[In a preschool parking lot at 8:32 a.m. on a Friday. It is an unseasonably warm morning in February.]
Dad #1: Hey.
Dad #2: Hey, how's it going?
[Dad #2 opens lift gate of SUV trunk]
Dad #1: Pretty good. What you got there?
Dad #2: Oh this? It's just a full-sized replica of the puppet stage from the Sound of Music.
Dad #1: Ah, cool.
[Dad #1 hides set of four borrowed finger puppets behind back]
Dad #1: That's the one with shepherds, right?
Dad #2: Goatherds, actually. But hey, a lot of people can’t tell the difference. Look at this; I've got all the marionettes in here too.
Dad #1: Oh, wow.
Dad #2: Yeah, our family likes to break this baby out on cool summer evenings. You know, set it up on the stone patio in the backyard overlooking the lake and take turns choreographing puppet musicals.
Dad #1: Sure. Yeah. That sounds amazing.
Dad #2: You should come over one night. It’s usually just the nine of us, but the more the merrier!
Dad #1: Nine?
Dad #2: Yeah. The wife and me and our kids. We have seven.
Dad #1: Oh, wow. So, you really are big Sound of Music fans.
Dad #2: What do you mean?
Dad #1: Seven kids. Like the von Trapps.
Dad #2: Huh. Yeah, I hadn’t thought about it, but I guess that is kind of funny. Would you mind giving me a hand with this stage? It’s a little awkward to carry.
Dad #1: Sure. So, what do you do for work?
Dad #2: Well, I’m actually retired. I was a captain in the Navy. Now I travel a lot. I guess you could say I’m kind of on the social circuit.
Dad #1: Right. Yes.
Dad #2: I also play guitar and sing a little bit. Mostly just at home with the kids, but every now and then we’ll jump in and perform at a local festival or talent show or something. We have fun.
Dad #1: Uh-huh. Yeah, my son and I play putt-putt sometimes. And we like watching TV.
Dad #2: Awesome! You have to bond with the kids, man. It’s the best!
Dad #1: Totally.
Dad #2: I mean, it can be hard, but there’s nothing more rewarding. I’m very lucky to have my wife. She has really stepped in and treated the children just like they were her own.
Dad #1: Oh, man. Did their mother pass away? I’m so sorry.
Dad #2: Yeah, it was really rough on all of us. When she passed, it was almost like all the joy and music just disappeared from our house.
Dad #1: Oh. I’m very sorry.
Dad #2: Thanks. But luckily Maria was there to pick us all up.
Dad #1: Your wife is named Maria?
Dad #2: Yes. She’s lovely. She was our nanny until it turned into something more. If you know what I mean. Haha.
Dad #1: Okay.
Dad #2: Wonderful with the kids. Just amazing. And she rekindled my passion for music and sparked my interest in puppetry. As you can see! Did I mention I made all of this by hand?
Dad #1: Well, we borrowed these finger puppets from a friend last night so I guess you could say we’re about even.
Dad #2: Haha! It’s totally cool. Anyway, it’s not a competition. It’s just preschool puppet day, right? We’re competing in a singing and puppetry competition this weekend, but that’s a totally different thing.
Dad #1: Of course.
Dad #2: Whew…this thing gets heavier every time. Thanks for helping me out. Are you sticking around? I wrote up a little musical puppet show for the kids. I play all fifteen characters! It’s exhausting, but the kids love it. They’re going to go nuts!
Dad #1: No, I have to run. I’m going to go to Starbucks to sit by myself for three hours.
Dad #2: Great! Enjoy it. Oh, and you might see my oldest daughter there. She’ll be the one busking in the corner wearing a homemade dress. She plays the guitar, sings, and makes her own clothes!
Dad #1: Wonderful. I’ll tell her you said hi.
Dad #2: Please do. And if you see a little blond UPS twerp hanging around her, tell him to get lost! Haha.