We get to the EMP and I am delighted to discover that it is attached to another museum, which I’ve not yet seen and which is far more interesting to me than Jimi Hendrix’ guitar. The SciFi museum opened recently, and apparently the admission ticket I receive is good for that, too.
I’m going to the SciFi museum, I say.
Mr. Faraway and his children think this is a good idea, so along with several other people from the bus, we head in that direction. We wander around looking at set sketches and props from Avatar; I take pictures of The Child with a genuine, apparently wood Dalek from the original Tom-Baker-era Doctor Who that I grew up on. We all wait on line together for the kids to have their own Avatar videos made and uploaded to YouTube.
When the downstairs has been exhausted, we head up to see what else there is.
The Child and the boy want to go check out the music section now and begin racing off in that direction, past the giant guitar tornado sculpture. Mr. Faraway says, I’ve got them, and races off too. It happens quickly – suddenly, The Child is just gone, doing what she wants to do, and I’ve lost control of her, the situation.
She can’t even supervise her child properly, he must be thinking.
I wander around for a bit, but then return to the main hall and wait for them. As I stand there, trying not to look as awkward as I feel, I watch concert footage of Freddy Mercury, and idly remember how much The Foreigner loved his music. He played it all the time.
Mr. Faraway returns with two children in tow, and they all tell me what a great time they had. He took pictures, and promises to email them to me. He doesn’t seem annoyed that he had to manage an extra child for a bit, and it dawns on me: This is what fathers do.
I have to think about this for a moment, and I play through my mind all the fathers of The Child’s friends. They do things like this too. Perform in talent shows with little girls, spin them around on ice skating rinks, laugh at their jokes. In some world I have never lived in, this is completely normal and routine. I want to live there too, I think – but I never seem to meet the likes of Mr. Faraway. Actually, I sometimes do meet them, but someone else has almost always met them first.
I’m completely lost in thoughts and stumped for conversation now, but the problem is solved when more of the group starts to gather in the same area. I focus on the music, since it’s hard to hear much else anyway.
We board the bus back, and I get on first, and head toward the back of the bus. Mr. Faraway takes a seat toward the front and begins chatting with another father.
I sit in the back and listen to the chattering of teenagers around me, and wish I had not been so hopelessly needy that I drove away the only conversation I felt safe enough to have.