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2007-04-12 - 12:47 p.m.

My parents are coming into town tonight. In the morning, they're flying from Baltimore to Denver, where my younger brother will pick them up and drive them the six hours to his house in southwest Kansas. They're spending a week and a half out there. My dad will hang with my brother (who's a baseball coach) and my mom will hang with brother's wife and their two-year-old. After work, I'm meeting them at their hotel room here and taking them to have dinner at the restaurant where my older brother works.

My dad is getting curmudgeoener and curmudgeoner. He's not that old. He's sixty. But, this morning, when I talked to the restaurant brother, he tells me that the first thing my dad said to my mom this morning was that he wanted to cancel the whole trip because it's snowing in Denver. I've got to do just one little thing in all this: drive them to dinner tonight and then drive them back to their hotel. But fact is, I'm anxious as shit about it. My dad gets crazy in cities, it's a fact, and he's scared of black people in cities and darkness in cities and trash on the streets in cities and I'm just hoping the Orioles game doesn't end at the exact moment that we take a right on Pratt Street because the last thing that car would need is a traffic jam in a city. I feel like I'm probably too old to worry about how my city-phobic dad acts, but I can't deny that the worry's there. I kind of want to set a six-pack on his lap and put him in charge of the radio stations.

Oh, but The New York Times' obit for Vonnegut had this passage from "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater."

"Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies--'God damn it, you've got to be kind."

How about that?

I got second place in an essay contest. I actually get money for this one. The essay is about girls. Vonnegut's got the firebombing of Dresden. I've got girls with hair that smells good.

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