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Rant #370
(published February 21, 2008)
Six Strategies for Coping with Isolation
by David Erik Nelson
Like many first-time stay-at-home dads, I failed to consider the isolation that comes with shifting from fast-paced office life to washing cloth diapers in a leaking toilet. While I'm told that toddlers, like chimpanzees, can use simple tools and even occasionally speak, it turns out that four-month-olds do not offer nearly that level of intellectual stimulation, despite their heartwarming smiles and shrewd comic timing. Fortunately, there are many options for the househusband looking for new social venues, or simply hoping to be distracted from the daily drudgery of dish-pan hands, diaper rash, and daytime TV.

  1. Re-create Your Work Environment at Home: Were you a lawyer prior to the birth of your child? Then perhaps the Green Frog and Monsieur Monkey-Blanket stand accused of colluding in the murder of Teton Moose. Gather your child's plush toys and organize a jury of their peers — but first be sure to prepare evidence: kitchen implements rubbed with a mixture of red food coloring and Karo syrup, crayon drawings detailing the crime as described by investigators, and scandalous e-mails exchanged by Mrs. Frog and M. Monkey-Blanket should all be subpoenaed. Your baby can sit as the judge presiding over the trial; infant judicial robes can easily be crafted from an old t-shirt, your wife's black satin chemise, or monkey priest vestments. Coerced testimony is admissible in these trials.

  2. Go to the Park: A brief stroll around your local greenspace will reveal that this is a popular destination for babies and their caregivers. Although you are eager to interact with these adults sharing in your new lifestyle, note that most of them are trim young women, while you are a slouchy balding man with breast-milk-vomit hardening on his torn Metallica t-shirt. If you approach directly, it is highly likely that you will startle them, and your social enthusiasm may be misread as strained flirtation. Instead of introducing yourself, snatch glances from over the thick hedgerow, or nonchalantly absorb bits and pieces of their parenting chatter by repeatedly walking past them as slowly as possible. If any happen to glance your way, duck immediately or, if no cover is available, flee.

  3. Call NPR: National Public Radio offers 24-hours of thoughtful, left-leaning programming, but generally lacks the joys of actually talking to another adult human being. Fortunately, much of their daytime programing takes the form of radio call-in shows. A carefully crafted question will help maximize your time on-air, talking to guests and hosts. A few pointers: Never take your answer "off the air." Ask "questions" that contain no actual question, and are instead strings of self-contradictory remarks that may, or may not, be topical. Subtly cast aspersions on the integrity of the host or guests. Invent statistics as needed, and don't worry about logical consistency carrying over from one claim to the next. Do not giggle or raise your voice! Do thank the host for taking your call.

  4. Petty Larceny: Our legal system affords a great number of opportunities to engage in long discussions with other adults in interesting fields of work. Many lawyers, police, and career criminals have incisive insights into life, child rearing, and the proper technique for forcing a bolted door. You and your child can enter into the criminal justice system at no immediate cost by shoplifting small items, hiding inflammatory pamphlets in library books, or verbally assaulting a street vendor.

  5. Transdimensional Communication: Many transdimensional beings find their lifestyle choice to be as isolating as that of a full-time father. Subsequently, they are far more eager to form new interpersonal bonds than are housewives, NPR hosts, or municipal employees, even if it requires them to transcend to a degraded plane of influence. Transdimensional spirits include both the commonplace spiritual essences (e.g. ghosts, ancient Aztec god-kings, gritty blues musicians) and the more rarified energy essences (e.g. intergalactic travelers, eskimos, underwear models, ice cream vendors.) With just a Ouija board or haunted play-telephone, you and your infant daughter can while away the hours swapping muffin recipes with Quetzalcoatl or describing the flavor of strawberry yogurt to Xaxon the Wanderer and Heidi Klum, while forming fast friendships that will last a lifetime (and beyond!)

  6. Write Freelance.

David Erik Nelson is freelance writer available for your promotional, educational, informational, or diabolical campaign.

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