Why Me? Why Write? Why Now? Why Not?

The Me is Doug Curran…Douglas M Curran…Douglas Metcalf Curran. Douglas is Celtic for “dweller by the dark stream”. Curran in Gaelic means “little spear”. And Metcalf? Scottish for “I met a calf”? Hey I don’t know! I don't have all the answers. I'm still trying to get the questions right. At least I seem to be a spear fisher by some dirty water. Or maybe I'm a Druid. And that Curran thing may not even be as Irish as my Irish American wife, Colleen Fitzsimmons, hoped it was when she married me. Ok, I might be a Viking. It's like this. I was reading this book, The Lion Of Ireland, see, and the author, Morgan Llewellyn, recounts a last battle between Brian Boru and the Viking invader king, to regain Irish dominance again throughout the island and kick the fureners out. The Viking king's name? Olaf Cuaran? Cuaran? Curran? I'm a Viking now, so I am? And a descendent of one of those marauding and murderous pillagers and plunderers? I've never pillaged a thing in my life...well, maybe a book or two from somebody. I'm really just a gentle giant who loves books and music. Ok, I bought a sword recently, but only as a wall decoration to enhance my Irish family history coat of arms! Honest! Viking, Schmiking, so rest my Irish soul! Or my wife will have my old bald Irish head!

September 28, 2009

Sean is 28...and still driving!

Hey, have to say a few words about my 7th child, Sean, 28 on the 24th, with whom we partayed last night with the family, eating his favorite meal, Chinese Sundaes, with an oreo cake for dessert! Always fun to gather with the kids and g-kids, reminisce, laugh, catch up - though we see each other every month or two, so don't lose track much. But Sean deserves some big kudos for changing his life in some big ways, staying clean and sober from pain pills for five years, for getting his act together, for expressing himself in music in creative ways, hip-hopping and recording his own "recovery" cds. He's an amazing guy, all 6'6" of him, a truly cool dude and pretty good basketball player- though he did give us some major angst as a klepto kid and OCD-er of everything! Here' a little reminiscence of him during his ap for a driver's license 12 years ago, which I shepherded as best I could, but later wondered how I survived it...

"Now that I’m “older and wiser”, I have a lot more questions than answers. Like, how did I get through my kids’ licensing rituals? It ‘s a rite of passage for fathers as much as it is for the kids. Yes, I accompanied 16-year old Sean, my seventh child, to the DMV to stand in line for an hour and get him to the right counter where I could finalize his new driver’s license and guiltily put yet another teenage menace out on the highways.

I thought back to when I got my first license – and second license. I think I repressed all that because no thought came back. Actually, I was 18 and a freshman in college before I got my license, borrowing a friend’s car. I’ll never forget the look on the examiner's face when he told me to try driving in reverse and I did – and backed up without ever looking in the rear-view mirror or over my shoulder. He recovered nicely and told me to come back another time.

The long line now awaiting us was just the first stage of the licensing ritual, the line that looked like we’re going to a soup kitchen, based on the gaunt looks of those waiting – or maybe it was a real line-up and we were all being sized up and picked out as the one who did it. 'I'm innocent, I tell ya, I didn't do it!' No, but rather I just waxed philosophic and thought about how my son must get used to the long lines of life which snake their way through our daily survival and from which he’ll get his first real test of the concept of being first and last in line, and how the last shall be first, and the first shall be last, whatever that means.

Here, parents were consoling their moping kids, telling them it’s ok if they don’t pass the test for the fourth time. Other parents with little kids were correcting them out loud and unembarrassed, one even yelling across the room to her kid to give back the toy she took from yet another toddler. The cries of the victim bounced off the walls - and the little toy thief bounced off the wall too. Ah the living, breathing, toy-stealing lines of humanity! “We are the world, we are the children!”

After an hour of Sean building up the anticipation that can only come from knowing that his life and identity hang in the balance, after he hits on every young thing that can help him pass the time, after saying hello to a neighbor who just turned 16 and is getting his license 6 months before Sean because Sean's grades suck - and before anyone else can get bounced off the walls, we hear the cry “Next!” This signals a very important part of the journey – getting out of the line because we are finally at the end of the line - the front end, or salvation!

This is what lines are all about once you are in them –figuring how to get out of them as fast as you can. No wonder we cherish our place in the line and bristle at the mere thought of anyone trying to butt in. It’s not just our sense of outrage and fair play at being cut in on, but we don’t let anyone in because it threatens the very idea of our getting out of the line as soon as possible.

Next comes the task of finding the right counter with the right service person. All through the line, while my Sean is talking and cavorting, I am wondering if all this waiting will be for naught, because no one will be there to direct us to the right place and someone will tell us we’ve been in the wrong line all along, and why didn’t we read the directions which I didn’t see, and then make us go back to the end of the line!

But we did find our way to the counter, after all, to the part of the ritual where my son is grilled about his social security number and birth certificate which are right in front of him, and why he has so many zits, and how many times he has bleached his hair, while I perspire profusely waiting for him to go into a brain freeze, possibly forgetting what he is there for and not having the proper documentation – and going back to the end of the line!

At this time I am asked to affix my signature next to his, to take upon me all the repercussions of any dorky driving he may ever do as a minor, to be the responsible guardian I am supposed to be till death do us part, which I can see happening if I ever let him drive my car with me on the passenger side.

I flash back to the time when my daughter Erin was driving in the new car of a friend, daughter of local millionaire Allen Ashton, founder of WordPerfect. When Alison asked Erin if she wanted to drive her new birthday ride, Erin, 16, took over the wheel, drove three blocks and promptly totaled the week-old red Firebird on a slow left turn where the oncoming car was trying to beat the yellow light. They survived with some bruised bodies and egos, gracas a deus. I have since cautioned her to never make a left turn again. You can read the full account in my column called “No Left Turns” which I might subject you to someday.

After wincing at the $20 I had to fork over to the State to end this torture, I prepared myself for the final stage of the rite – the shooting of the foto, the foto op, the candid camera, the affixed smile. He had been practicing his smile since we got there, turning often to look at me with a goofy spread of his uppers, “Is this ok, Dad?”. But the time of reckoning was at hand, where he had to answer to his own name, and walk John Wayne style to the front of the camera, place his feet behind the line and let his body follow, face the firing squad, find the camera lens, listen to the instructions and smile at the same time.

This was harder than he thought, because the first one didn’t take. The second time was a keeper however, and after looking at the beaming faces, his and the foto’s, I began to realize what this was really all about. It was about the foto! How did he look in the foto! It was yet another imprint of the image with which he might go out and conquer the world – and the chicks! Identity is everything! I wanted to warn the community – there should be a section of the local paper where parents can alert their neighbors and prepare people for a new teen stud driver!"

Well, fast forward and he's still trying to get the chicks...he's got leather seats in his hot Lexus, has a good sales job, still obsesses about shoes and has a ton of new ones to show off or sell on eBay, has the biggest room in a shared condo, goes to 12-step meetings almost every day, is trying to finish a degree in Phys Ed so he can teach and be a coach, and he's not bad looking either - come on girls, what's not to like about this guy?


  1. What a fun story about Sean! I'm proud of him too. :)

  2. Hilarious Dad! Oh, and thanks for including me in the oh-so-popular story about the Mustang I totaled (not a firebird). Ah, the memories...