They are the oddest couple, my daughters — one edgy and curt, the other about as threatening as a Lutheran tea. One wears her heart on her sleeve, the other wears it all over the place, like a smock.
Now, for the first time in almost a decade, they are about to be roomies again.
I am skeptical of their new rental arrangement, whereby the younger one is leaving her Brentwood apartment after a year to move in with her bossy big sister, the one with the halogen eyes. Under such high beams, the younger one will now try to live a good and moral life.
They still have lives like that, right?
What do I know, I'm just the dad in this relationship. I am trying to appreciate this spectacle from afar, keeping a respectful distance — if only to protect myself from the impending screaming.
Note that there is nothing wrong with smart and opinionated daughters that reasoning with them won't aggravate.
"Did you read the lease?"
"What about renter's insurance?"
"Who buys the Clorox?"
Those are the kinds of questions that make me seem like a stuffy, no-fun, uptight dad. I try to stay out of things but am forced to ask them anyway, if only to see a moonbeam of enlightenment wash across their pretty faces.
"Oy, this guy," their expressions say instead. "Who is this soulless dolt? Joe Biden?"
No, that would be me, dear, a guy who realizes just how much moving always costs — the rental vans, the lost security deposits, the thousands of dollars even the simplest cross-town shuffle sets you back.
Their mother, meanwhile, seems to relish this move. She sees in this cohabitation a certain security, the sense her two daughters will look out for each other. Besides, it will make snooping on them so much easier.
Posh has already taken the day off work to help with the move and will measure, dust, match the new bedspread to the blush on her daughter' cheeks. There are no details too small for Posh. After jumping at marriage, she has become a supremely cautious person.
Once the few pieces of furniture are moved, they will rush out to Target, then Home Depot, as if hoarding things before a major typhoon. She will buy them rugs and road flares. She will replace the strainer in the sink.
"Oh, look at that crazy-cool ceiling fan!"
And before it's over, this move will cost me more than it does the daughter who's actually moving.
You can harangue and grumble over this, but what good would it do? In her mother's eyes, this is a justifiable expense, the best example of what politicians call "trickle-down" economics. Besides, doesn't a ceiling fan in the bedroom make absolute sense?
Well, in parenthood, there is no such thing as "absolute sense." And there's always been the finest of lines between being a supportive dad and a chump.
If my life were a sitcom (which it sort of is), they would finish this move, pour a glass of the Marilyn Merlot left over from their Oscar party and start to toast this new arrangement when — Knock! Knock! Hello? — standing at the door would be me with a suitcase, thrown out by Posh after my fourth midlife crisis in as many weeks.
Now, three midlife crises you can probably abide, but when I bought that muscle car with last month's mortgage money, that might've been it for us. Many marriages come with expiration dates, and that impulse purchase apparently was mine.
In my defense, it's a very clean vehicle — what college coaches call "a can't-miss recruit." It's always nice to bring new blood into the family, and this Camaro was such an attempt ... a gleaming, six-cylinder foster child.
I don't understand why Posh is so slow to warm to it. It has the kind of fabric seats once seen on the better interstate buses, and you have to admire the color — a dark cherry, the shade of an old, reliable heart.
I mean, what could symbolize us better? Handcuffs? A noose?
Anyway, in the first episode, I would show up on my daughters' Santa Monica doorstep on what would've otherwise been a splendid day — a milestone, a move-mitzvah. They would, of course, fear the return of their sensible, omnipresent dad, yet the episode would end with them waiting up till the wee hours for me to come home.
"I was just out waxing my cool Camaro," I would explain.
Cue the eye roll. Roll the laugh track.
Life is too funny sometimes.