The Man on the Roof

Just like any other “get-ready-for-bed” evening, around 9:30.  DDFT’s mother is out working hard, harder than you think, on behalf of Hollywood’s composers and songwriters.

I’ve already made tonight’s last call to Julianna (12) and Isabella (10) for brush your teeth, now!  Now!

Then, the neighbors’ dogs start barking.  And, that causes a chain reaction.  Soon, our fierce chihuahuas join in the cause.

We hear a thud outside, nothing huge.  Like a big wind knocked something over.  I don’t think anything of it.

But, the wind is calm tonight.  Too calm.

Me:  Shush dogs!  Knock it off!  Bed time, girls!  I’ve got work to do.

Isabella:  Daddy, if that was wind, then I’m afraid that the umbrellas will fall into the pool.

Me:  Honey, don’t worry.  It’s not a windy tonight.

Iz: If it’s not a windy night, then what was that noise?

Julianna (rushed):  I’m going to get the flower I left outside so it doesn’t blow over.

Me:  Girls, it’s not windy.  Nothing is getting blown over.  Stop!  Bedtime!

Julianna flips on the outside light, heads outside and grabs her flower off of the patio.  The umbrellas are fine.

There’s another, lesser thump.  She heads back in.

Iz: But, Daddy…  There’s no wind, didn’t you heard another thump?

Me: I don’t know, honey.  Maybe, I’m busy.

I keep typing away at my computer.

Then, Julianna sits down, turns her head, looks out the Family Room window, and says in the most possibly, chilling horror-voice way possible:

“Daddy…  There’s someone in the backyard.”

Hairs stand on end.

Multiple adrenaline boosts.

Me:  Honey?  What?

Julianna: A guy is looking at me.

Me:  What?! No.  What?  We have a fence! A gate!  Really?

I run to the window, and sure as hell.  There’s a guy there.  In the backyard.  Standing there.  Eye contact.

Adrenaline.  Fucking boosting.  Boosting.

He’s a police officer.  In my backyard.  Acknowledging me.  Pointing to his badge.  Hand on holster.  Letting me know he’s on Patrol.

He motions me to come out.  Hand on holster.  Yes, I see that.  In my yard.

Since he is in the backyard, I opt to go out the front door and wrap around.

On my trek, I check my mental filing cabinet for Unconstitutional Police Intrusions.  “Exigent Circumstances” allow the police to ignore search warrants in an emergency.  I must be “exigent.”  I’m guessing: Serial Killer.

Me (approaching two officers) inside my gate:  Please, tell me what is going on?

Officer (male):  We’re in pursuit of a male suspect, jumping fences between yards.  Have you seen anything?

Me:  No, but the dogs have been barking like Hell for the last few minutes.

Officer:  Ok, sir, may we check your yard?  (For the axe murderer.)


Me:  Oh, God, yes.

I race back in through the front door to make sure the girls are Ok,  Scared little girls…  Just as the police helicopters basically land on my roof with their Night Sun technology.

Then, I realize….

I open the sliding door to the patio and approach the Officer (female) with my hands up.  I try to tell her to check the garage.

She can’t hear me because the chopper is giving us a haircut.

I take a few steps closer, knowing her hand is on her holster.  She motions for me to back off.   Her hand is on her goddamn holster!

Me (yelling):  The back garage door is unlocked!

Officer (female):  Ok!!  Thank you!

LAPD, always, so polite.

I high-tail it back to the patio, then inside to relative safety.  The girls are, of course, freaking out.

Screams of “I’m Scared…”  “Daddy!!!”

I play it cool with the girls.  Dial it back.  Rico Suave.  Billy D. Williams.

Me:  I’m sure it’s nothing.  The police are here. They’ve got their flashlights.  Did you see the helicopter?  I’m sure there’s a SWAT team around the corner.  We are the safest people in the world.  Yeah,…  It’s all cool…

They check out the garage.  They look through the Aloe bush.  They check behind the pool filter.

Officer (male) says something into his microphone.

The helicopter flies away, the officers depart (kindly closing the gate), and life returns to what the fuck just happened?

And, within 30 seconds, DDFT’s resident Mommy pulls into the driveway.  Isabella can’t wait to tell her what happened.

But, the next door neighbor had already intervened.

Mommy: Jessica says there was a guy who jumped on the roof!

Isabella:  The Thud!

Julianna:  Who could jump on the roof?

Me:  There were police searching in the backyard.  A Helicopter almost landed in the pool.

Mommy:  Where did he go?  Over the fence?

Me: We don’t know.  But, the helicopter was so low it nearly took out the chimney.  There is no bad guy here.

Mommy: And how do we sleep tonight?

Me:  Safely.  But, with one eye open.

Darren Otero ©®



I introduced myself to someone last night. “Darren,” I said. He said, “Like from that Bewitched TV show. Ha!” For the record, my mother had a TV Guide and easily could have named me Mannix, Jethro, or (my favorite): Ironside.

(Also, Bewitched ‘Darrin’ spelled it wrong.) Don’t mock peoples’ names. It’s not their fault. Please Endora me:

[Editor’s note:  It has been pointed out that Mannix and Ironside premiered after my birth certificate was certified with the certain-to-be mocked “Darren” name.  These people are party-poopers.  My parents could have gone with Star Trek’s James Tiberius.  I’m just saying.  I hold no grudges, Mom.]

The Length of Time

As difficult as it is to get the children into the shower, it is almost impossible to get them out when we are on a deadline.

Me (banging on the bathroom door):  Honey, you’ve been in there for 45 minutes.  Give someone else a chance!  Tick-tock, Sweetie.

Julianna (she’s 12):  Dad!   You know I don’t know how long time takes to happen!

Time keeps on ticking into the future.

Pirate Booty

Since some (or one) of you have asked, here’s a rough draft from a year ago.  This is why we can’t have nice things.:


For this post I will need a life-line.  A life-vest.  And, probably the Coast Guard.

Mommy is heading off to a Bingo game at a local Catholic church school. I am driving Isabella to gymnastics (she’s 9, by the way).

The pre-practice snack: Pirate Booty.

Iz:  Daddy, I’ve finished the Pirate Booty.  What is Booty anyway?

Me:  Well, popcorn, cheese and salt.

Iz:  No, I mean “Booty.”  What does that even mean?

[You see how innocently things start.]

Me:  It was a term that Pirates used to mean “treasure.”

Iz:  Oh, Booty is a Prize?  So is Mommy trying to get some Booty tonight at Bingo?

Me:  Um…. No, I hope not, but Yes..   I hope so.

[You see me now, squirming.  Asking for a life-line.]

Iz:  I’m confused.

Me (under my breath): That’s the idea.

Iz:  What is booty?

Me:  Well, in Pirate days, booty was gold and silver.  Stuff they stole.

Iz:  But…  What about  Butts.  What’s that about.  Butt.  But.  ‘bout.   Hahaha.

[Reminder, we’re in a car. Driving.  Highway speeds.]

Me:   Nowadays, Booty means Butt.  I don’t know how that happened, but Booty means Butt.

Iz:  So, you are a butt?

Me:  Yes.  I guess.  Are we good?

Iz:  No, wait.

[I’m needing that life-vest about now…]

Iz:  Why would someone want your booty?

Me:  Trust me, no one wants my booty.

Iz:   Obviously.

Me: [snap] (Good one)

Iz: But you wanted Mommy’s, right?  Her booty.

Kill me now.


The Daddy/Daughter Fun Time Caravan went on the road to Fallbrook, CA.  (Yeah, I had to Google it, too.)

Anyway, Isabella (she’s 10, you know) was competing in the Pajama Party gymnastics meet.  The last competition of the Regular season.  In the lovely town of Fallbrook.  (I am not being facetious.  Gentle rolling hills….)  But it’s 120 miles away.

It was just Isabella and me on a 2 hour drive.  And, you know, she’s actually a very pleasant person once you get past the whole “where’s my sweater” “stop staring at me” stage.  (I doubt she’d say the same about me.  Where’s my damn JEB! sweater?)

We make it through the rain (what the hell?  Southern California?  In May?)

Isabella amps herself up.  She shrugs off the numerous injuries that have plagued her year. Knees, back.  Her bad attitude.

First up:  Uneven Bars.  She told me earlier, she was going to do a flyaway (a back somersault dismount off of the high bar.  Please don’t break your neck.)

But, here’s a Gold Medal-winning (9.450) performance for a 10-year-old.  Next up the Western Regionals, then the World Championships.

Isabella Bars



No Treble

As is typical, on the drive in to school, the radio is an issue.  Julianna (she’s 12) is riding the presets.

Sweet Home Ala … flip … Donald Tr … flip … Welcome to the Ho … flip … Baby, We were Born to R… flip ..  Welcome to the Ju…  flip … Dun-dun-dun Duuu… flip.

Me: Honey, stop.  There was at least one good song that you skipped.  Maybe two.

The dial ends up on:

Carly Rae Jepsen:  Hey I just met you / And this is crazy / But here’s my number / So call me maybe

Julianna:  Wow, this was a big song YEARS ago, when I was in like the fourth grade.

Me: Yeah, I suppose so.  Years ago.  A lifetime ago.

J: So, Daddy, is this an Oldie?

Me: Like the Drifters or the Platters or the Buddy Holly?  Ummm.  No.

J:  No, Like “All About that Bass.”

Me: Well, then I guess, to you, it’s an Oldie.

J:  Cool.  I’m old enough to have Oldies.

Isabella (she’s 10) whispers to J:  But, Daddy has more.  Because he’s OLD!

Me: You know I can hear you.


Holy Zeus in a Backpack

Last night’s argument: Bedtime!

Julianna (she’s 12): Dad! Stop!

Me: It’s 9:30. Brush your teeth.

J: Every 5 minutes you yell! Hrrrrrgh!

Me: Yes, until you are in bed. Then, you are not my problem.

J: Then, whose problem will I be?

Me: I don’t care, Honey. Zeus.  Come on.  Let’s go.

J: I learned about him in school. Wait, it’s in my notebook. Hang on…

Me: Jesus!

J: Well, which one, Daddy? They’re both in my notebook.

Me: Crap!

J: Which one is he?

Queen, Prince, and the King

On the drive home from school, the iPhone playlist comes to Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls.

Julianna (she’s 12):  Who are they?  They sound like Bohemian Rhapsody.

Me: Well, Honey.  The band is Queen and they did Bohemi..

J: But what are they talking about?

Crap.  Body-image, gender politics, Girl-Positive Power while I try to merge from the carpool lane to the “fast” lane.  Why won’t anyone let me in?

Me: Sweetie, you see…

J: Oh, it is so ironic!

Me: What?

J:  I was talking with my friends about Prince because he loved Purple.  I love Purple.  Well, I love all colors really.

Me: What about Queen?  What about Queen Latifah?

J:  Who?  Oh, Daddy!  Since there’s a Queen and a Prince.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was a King.

Me:  Well, Sweetie.  I thought you’d never ask. There was a King.  His name was Elvis.  And, since we’re at a stoplight, I have control of the phone.

“You ain’t nuthin’ but a hound dog…”

J: Why do you do this to me?

Me:  Music you need to know.




Bryd Middle School

I am weighing in on the current (Spring 2017) Los Angeles School Board Election.  I’ve never done that before.

But, some guy came to the door and gave me a pamphlet. Ironically, my mail-in ballot had just arrived from the postman.

So, I checked out his candidate’s website. She’s young and full of energy.  She’ll make a positive difference for our children.

And, since I’m all about due diligence, I also dialed up her opponent’s website.

She’s also young, she wants to make a difference.  To improve our childrens’ education.

Whew!  Because, I thought for sure one of them would suck.  And, I would be able to tell that from their very vague promises.  Charters?  Funding?  Taxes?  China?

Now, I’m not going to tell you who I voted for. But, if someone is running for the School Board, I don’t expect to find 4 or 5 easy, easy typos on their website. (Like the misspelling of her Middle School’s name.)

She’s running for School Board.

The Last Word by the First Light

A clearly annoyed Isabella (she’s 10) on the drive in to school this morning:

Iz:  Look what time it is!  I’m gonna be late.  They’re gonna yell at me.

Me (also visibly annoyed):  And, do you know why you are going to be late?

Iz: It’s because you need to wake me up earlier than you do.

Me [with a little upward inflection]: Nooo. I woke you up plenty early enough.

Iz: Yeah.  Because you know I like to stay in bed after you wake me up.  And, sometimes I fall back asleep.  So, you should wake me up earlier.

Me: Let me get this straight.  I’m supposed to wake up even earlier so that you can fall back asleep.

Iz: Yeah, that seems fair.

Me [a rage is building]:  How is that fair?! Maybe you should get your butt out of bed, get dressed, not yell at me for 10 minutes because you can’t find your jacket that you left somewhere, make your own breakfast, make your own lunch, find your own missing library book, pack your own book bag and walk yourself the 14 miles to school!  Wouldn’t that be more fair?!

We finally arrive at the drop-off line, the girls gather their stuff.  Isabella has been quiet.  I think I got through to her.  Yelled some sense into her.

They get out of the car, Isabella looks at me through the window and says:

“No, that wouldn’t be more fair.  Bye.”