Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lamenting the Loss of Cool

When we were approached by the 141st Air Refueling Wing and Make a Wish about making our son, Tito, their Pilot of the Day at Fairchild Air Force Base, I was apprehensive. I have nothing against the Air Force philosophically. Like many males, I think being a pilot would be cool. I fear because I knew the truth.

See, I have been fooling my son into thinking he has a cool dad. And, yes, it’s been hard work (yes, I got my dorkiness, thank you), but I have been pulling it off until now. My son would hang around around pilots, firemen, safety technicians, bulldozer drivers and so many genuine cool people. What chance did I have? So ended the dream. The best I could hope for now would be “use to be cool” Dad. More likely, the gig was up. Tito would realize his dad was terribly and always a dork. I was praying to avoid dorky dad for a few more years. Oh, well… such is life.

So, off we went, my wife as beautiful as always, dorky dad carting the camera (think Chevy Chase only not as graceful) and my son in his brand-new flight suit. Mjr. Higgins had dropped off the flight suit earlier in the week. Already, Tito at 4 years old had bettered his dad in coolness. Yeah, I know, pretty easy to do. (Really, I got my dorkiness, thank you) Tito is so cool in his flight suit.

We were met at the front gate by Higgins, Leslie of Make a Wish and Cpt Miguel, a real life pilot. They had the whole day planned for my son. Safety demonstrations, touring a large plane, seeing Fairchild’s construction equipment up close, touring a Blackhawk Helicopter, lunch, playing in a flight simulator, touring the base’s fire department and finally, a ceremony to present him with his wings. Higgins and Miguel worried if they planned too much for my son and about tiring him. They might have planned too much, as both Higgins and Miguel surely looked pooped at the end of the day. My son, however, still looked as though he could go on another five hours, which he did. Operating and flying sophisticate equipment is one thing, chasing a fully alive 4-year-old is quite another. I had my dorky dad revenge.

My 4-year-old being so excited around cool and awesome equipment, and cooler and more awesome people would rev up for days after. Tito had so much fun sitting in a Blackhawk, bulldozer, refueling air planes, fire trucks and playing in flight simulator. Higgins and Miguel ran like a marathon trying to keep up. I captured it all on my digital camera. If I now had to play the dorky dad, I decided to play it to the hilt.

The day was filled with so many lifetime memories, and even I got some great photos. My family does extend an apology for my son crashing the flight simulator. Tito just loves pushing strange red buttons. A special thanks to the fireman that drew the short straw and was Sparky at the Fire Station. That Dalmatian costume really looked hot, and we appreciate your dehydration in the line of duty. We also understand your future accident (accident, wink, wink) of leaving the Sparky costume in the plane of your next practice fire. It would be a darn same.

I know that gratitude is a spiritual practice. Saying thank you is hard for us humans. It means for us that we are weak, but the truth is that we do need each other. Throughout the day Tito’s comrades of 141st warmly embraced him as did everyone at Fairchild AFB, from the fireman to the civil engineers. They even tolerated the bumbling old dad getting in the way. If you see any of these people going about town, salute them as they are the coolest people around. Truly, America’s finest.

I knew it was only a matter of time before my son figured out his father was an uncool buffoon. If he had to learn it soon or later, I am glad he learned it from such cool pilots. My family is eternally grateful and my ego will get over it.

No comments: