She’s got my phone. The older daughter and I are out having a few soda pops in Culver City. Then we go to another tavern and another tavern, and her phone dies, so now she’s using mine to dial up Uber. How our kids got around before Uber is beyond me.
Oh, that’s right – we drove them.
So, she’s snatched my phone and is playing it the way John Mayer crushes an electric guitar. Our children used to play musical instruments, and now they strum their insanely seductive little gadgets. With every upgrade, the world gets a little less artful.
That’s not to say the world isn’t still a rich and fascinating place, particularly as curated by my older daughter (at 31, she is now older than I am). There is a certain benevolence with daughters. I admire their energy, their spirit, their sense of right now. I like hanging with them, even if it sometimes involves happy juice.
On this night, my oldest wears her sunglasses flipped up into her hair like a tiara. She clutches her chardonnay glass with the same innate maternal affection she used to reserve for stuffed bears when she was 4.
Most times, I don’t understand a word she says. Rat-a-tat this and rat-a-tat that. May as well be Cicero’s Latin.
Look, if my two daughters ever won an Oscar, they would thank Uber and truffle oil and their little brother for the good warm hugs he gives them on frigid winter mornings when the temperature drops below 70.
While holding up Starbucks, they would thank their barista. They would thank their favorite TV show, “Orange Is the New Black.” And “the world’s greatest living writer, Lena Dunham.”
Then, in the teary way Oscar winners usually mention loved ones, they would thank their smartphones.
But I love my daughters. Like most dads, I am forever under their spell.
On this night, she is hanging with me and a band of pirates I consider friends. I look around our corner booth, full of food and the roary mirth of a Tolkien feast. This night, the pirates all happen to be TV and movie producers. Eventually, L.A. will be made up only of producers. At that point, I will flee.
But for now, it’s a fine evening, filled with old stories and engaging lies. My daughter stopped by to borrow a beach cooler I’d brought over to the side of town where she lives, and ended up staying for a drink.
Dear John’s, a cozy Culver City landmark, is getting louder with every ice cube. It seems a cross between an old-school steakhouse and a ’70s-era sitcom. More and more, I find myself the Magellan of boisterous and colorful saloons.
Another pit stop I like is the Daily Pint, which is what my coffin should eventually look like – the color of Cognac and just roomy enough for a pool table.
This is where we end the night, the beach cooler now just a footnote. Unlike me, my daughter actually finds my friends amusing. At around midnight, her phone dies and she seizes mine.
I’m jumpy by nature, but to see my oldest daughter with my phone particularly worries me. She’s her mother’s daughter, so she’s probably staging a raid on the Federal Reserve. She’s probably buying up all the Domino’s franchises in New Jersey and putting money down on tomorrow’s feature race at Pimlico.
Just for kicks, she’ll steal some Russian passwords.
Turns out, she is only installing the Uber app, which is a wonderful service. Ensuring safe travel home, it’s the best thing to happen to America’s bar scene since frat boys and beer.
For me, it is particularly pleasing, for when my daughter installed the app, she synced it to her own account, so now I can ride around everywhere for free.
Since I am tapped into her account, it also turns out that I receive alerts when she orders a ride at 3 in the morning.
Hmmmm, what’s a dad to do?
I am both shocked by this and relieved, for I don’t want her driving at 3 in the morning, even if she’s being chauffeured. At 3 in the morning, I don’t even want her awake.
These Uber alerts are just one of the many ways – Facebook, Instagram – that we can Big Brother our adult children. When we were young adults, our social shenanigans were invisible to our parents. We got out alive, though often just barely.
When it comes to my oldest, I am proud yet still protective of her. Been that way since prom. She will one day have more money, more life skills, more poise in difficult situations.
But till then, I fret every time she steps on an airplane.
So I trace her steps on Uber, back her up to make sure she’s safe – in the same way mountains back up harvest moons.
Is that so wrong?
No, it’s just parenthood.