Often I ask myself whether today’s best story is about a Father, a Writer, or a Lawyer. Readers vote overwhelmingly for “Father.”
So here’s Year 5, Episode 1 of Gay Sitcom Dad: “Facing Addiction.”
Glee. Rachel's birth mother was Idina Menzel.
My kids have been attending Zoom School since March 13, 2020 – which means they spend weekdays invading the dogs’ and my space and sucking up all the wi-fi.
Even though Bellingham is blessed with excellent public schools, we’ve all struggled with the challenges of online education. Quarantine came as a surprise to everyone. Last spring local educators focused on helping families cope with the once-in-a-century crisis long enough to make it to summer. Because pandemic supply chains limited the availability of ribbons and gold stars, the high school ended up giving every student who logged on A’s in all their classes.
Modern Family switched child actors mid-run.
Like both The Partridge Family and my son
For the 2020-21 school year, Bellingham Schools’ administrators, teachers, and counsellors prepared an elaborate online curriculum. With real grades. It’s been a challenge for everyone.
My high-school nephew is living with us this month while my parents snowbird in Hawaii. That means the dogs and I are stuck with four teenagers. The house’s Apple products include five iPhones, three iPads, two iMacs, and one ancient Macbook. We also have four cheap school-issued laptop PCs that run Windows and Chinese spyware.
Today the kids were particularly stressed as they approached the end of the semester, with Zoom finals scheduled for tomorrow and the next day. The first period of high school begins at 8:30 am. At 8:23 am this morning we discovered that our Centurylink wi-fi had gone down. At 8:24 am we discovered none of our AT&T iPhones worked either.
Ordinarily I would apply Ockham’s Razor and look for a simple explanation – operator error, unpaid utility bill, divine plague, etc. But none of these alternatives explained why Centurylink’s DSL cable and AT&T’s cellular reception both failed at the same time.
Jack Donaghy’s 30 Rock gay nemesis Devon Banks (Will Arnett)
with one of Devon's surrogate triplets
Like rest of their generation, my children are justly accused of being addicted to their phones. Addition is a serious thing. But today began with a period of farce.
First we tried turning everything off and on. Nada. As we continued searching for answers we kept looking in the same place – i.e. the internet, which turns out to be completely useless without DSL, wi-fi, or cellular data. D’oh.
Someone remembered that radio stations provide useful information about local disasters that is not only streamed online but also broadcast on the airwaves. Somewhere in the garage there is an old-fashioned radio for emergencies. Apparently it’s migrated to a mislabeled bin.
Cars are also equipped with radios. For the last six months I’ve been driving my dad’s old Honda. Unfortunately, my daughter ran down the battery a few weeks ago when she was banished outside to finish making loud TikToks. When we jumpstarted the Honda the stereo returned to its factory settings – and I keep forgetting to ask my parents for the security code to reinstall the radio.
What about the ancient minivan, you ask? The Kia is parked on the street in front of the house, uninsured, waiting to be traded in for a new car after my ship finally comes. We discovered the minivan battery is dead when I tried to jumpstart the Honda. (One of the neighbors came over to give us a jump instead.) The powerless minivan remains parked on the street, its radio silent, dreaming of being smashed by a heavily insured drunk driver.
Brothers & Sisters (& Sweaters)
Eventually Bear and I walked over to campus to log onto WWU’s guest wi-fi.
I was able to read one page of the 29-page legal document I’d been waiting to download. And I finally found the local news. According to the Bellingham Herald, an “unrelated contractor” cut the fiber optic cable serving Bellingham public schools, Centurylink home customers, and “some” AT&T cellphone users. Like us.
The New Normal, cancelled after one season.
Andrew Rannells also originated the role of Elder Price,
one of the obviously gay missionaries in The Book of Mormon.
Back at the house the situation remained unplugged and dire.
Some Leishmans were anxious because they couldn’t attend classes or study for finals. (Obviously that was my conscientious nephew, not my lazy children.) Others were excited about skipping school – until they realized everything fun requires a connection. Eleanor was the hardest hit. Eventually she wandered downtown in a daze, hoping to find some methadone.
I suggested activities like reading a book, or sorting the craft cupboard. This reminded Rosalind that just last week she mourned the departure from Netflix and Hulu of her favorite movie Coraline. Rosalind was disappointed when I wouldn’t pay $19.99 to download a movie when we already owned at least two copies on DVD. So today she and the other kids found a Bluray player that sorta worked and opened the DVD closet.
Ordinarily the dogs and I would relish an unplugged day where we couldn’t do legal work, and were forced to read and write between naps and walks. But we couldn’t enjoy ourselves while surrounded by whining children going through withdrawal. So Bear and I drove over to Whatcom Falls Park and took a long walk in the sunshine.
Afterwards we stopped by my parents’ house and confirmed their Comcast connection still worked. I decided if our wi-fi was still down after 4 pm I would take pity on my children and drive them back to Grandma’s for a fix. However, shortly after I arrived home my computer reloaded Facebook, and bars returned to everyone’s iPhones.
According to the Bellingham Herald, internet service to the schools and other affected locations was restored at 4:12 pm. At 4:13 the children barricaded themselves to their rooms to stare at screens and reconnect with the Borg.
Mr. Brady died of AIDS-related cancer in 1992.
When Rosalind gave me a hug at bedtime, she said the best part of the day was watching Coraline. Until it started skipping.
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