Maybe rename it DadSpace?
“WHAT about this MySpace?” I ask my daughter.
“What about it, Dad?” she answers like a bored professor.
Here’s what I know about MySpace. It’s one word with a cap in the middle, like LensCrafters. Kids are crazy for it. Parents not so much.
Parents believe, often with good reason, that using MySpace leads to inappropriate behavior, and eventually, the complete breakdown of American society. Every era, there’s something that teens do that will lead to the breakdown of American society. At one time, it was watching Elvis. Then it was long hair and the Beatles. Parents try to stop every trend, to no avail. Now, the battleground is MySpace, the ultimate bathroom wall.
“I think I need to be on MySpace,” I tell my daughter.
“You?” she gasps, as if swallowing a wasp.
“Me,” I say.
As communal experiences go, I prefer a sold-out ballpark to anything you might find on the Internet. I’d even prefer a crowded, sweaty beach. Or maybe a brawl in the Bronx, where everyone carries clubs and chains.
But every once in a while, you need to give a new thing a try. I guess I’m what they call an “early adapter.”
“You mean an early adopter?” the boy asks.
“You call it what you want, I’ll call it what I want,” I tell him.
With parenthood, the happy ending comes first. You’re in the hospital with the newborn, nurses and flowers everywhere. People pat you on the back for no real reason.
Then you get home. Steadily, parenting grows more cerebral. Eventually, the kids reach their teen years. That’s when the magic really happens.
Me, I love talking to teens. I find them responsive to my ideas, easy to work with, ceaselessly charming. Here’s how a typical conversation with a teen usually goes:
Teen: “WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS YELLING AT ME, HUH?”
Parent: “I was just wondering why you suddenly shaved your head and dyed it green?”
Teen: “IT’S MY PROM, OK? WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS YELLING AT ME, HUH?”
Of course, not all conversations go this well. Sometimes there is more yelling than that, and sometimes people really lose their tempers. In some instances, I have seen Valium actually squirt right out of a mother’s ears.
To some parents, teens are like extraterrestrials with better cars. But the thing to remember is this: Every teenager is a blessing. And it goes by soooooo fast.
And now there’s this MySpace to fret over. To a parent, it is a mostly invisible world where teens post very personal information and images, occasionally to the delight of some very creepy people. Naturally, parents either ban their kids from participating or try to keep a close eye on all this activity.
Keeping a close eye on teens is akin to trying to watch hydrogen atoms bond.
But there might be a simple solution to all this: dads.
Dads? Yes, dads.
We’ll just join in. If we can get enough fathers to join, pretty soon MySpace.com will go from being a very cool site to being about as hip as a yard sale at Bob Newhart’s house.
For, if there’s anything a teen doesn’t want to be seen with, it’s a dad. At the mall, they’ll walk 20 steps behind. In line at the movies, they’ll press up against the people in front, pretending they’re with them. I don’t mind. Usually, teens smell like bad fruit anyway. I think it’s that mango deodorant they wear.
“You want what?” my older daughter asks.
“A place on MySpace,” I say.
“You’re serious?” she asks.
I remind her that I’ve always been a very serious guy. I explain that MySpace will let me reach out to others and promote my other work: books, movie, coaching tips, marital advice. Besides, I’m always open to new things and new people.
“All my friends are doing it,” I say.
“You’re kidding me,” she says.
“I’d never kid a kid,” I say.
So here, with a little help from my older daughter, is my MySpace profile (www.myspace.com/chriserskine). The personal information runs under a photo of me at the barbecue holding a pair of tongs and what looks like maybe a beer.
Children: Love kids, but not for me.
General interests: Likes baseball, pina coladas and getting caught in the rain.
Heroes: Homer Simpson, Ernie Banks, his holiness the Dalai Lama.
“You really want this?” my daughter asks.
“Consider it a Father’s Day gift,” I tell her.
“I don’t believe it.”
Frankly, neither do I. I’m now on MySpace. Let the Internet revolution begin.
Chris Erskine can be reached at email@example.com.