How to Be the World’s Coolest Dad

Romanesque Grotesque

It’s probably a little harder to achieve Coolest Dad status today than it was in 1983, but I found a quick and easy way to do it back then.

At the time, I was a single dad, living just outside Washington, D.C., and sharing custody of my two (at that time) kids with my former wife. On the weekend I earned the Coolest Dad title, Naomi, then approaching 10 years of age, and Adam, 8, were in my care. Unfortunately, I had some urgent work to do at my office in downtown Washington, and I had no choice but to spend a few hours there on Saturday morning to complete it.

Out of necessity, I took the kids along with me, and to keep them occupied and entertained I asked them to use the Xerox machine to make a stack of copies needed for a project I’d been working on. The kids were terrific and got their assignment done while I did the work I needed to complete.

When we were all finished, it was lunchtime. But rather than taking the kids to one of our customary haunts, I had an offbeat idea. Only a few weeks earlier, renovation had been completed on the Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue,* only a few blocks from the White House and an even shorter distance from my USIA Foreign Press Center office in the National Press Building. The ground floor of the Old Post Office had been transformed into a food court – the Old Post Office Pavilion – a fairly early example of a type of chow palace that is now quite common, but which in those days was still a pretty rare species.

So we walked over there to see what was on offer amid what promised to be a wide range of choices. I no longer remember the specifics, but it’s safe to say that in this gustatory Disneyland, we could have selected anything from burgers or pizza to a range of Asian and other exotic comestibles. All the food booths were offering items that were both tempting and nutritious.

All but one. There, nutrition – as most moms would understand it – had gone straight out the window, leaving only temptation behind.

On offer at this booth, to whose allure we succumbed, were ice cream sundaes served in fresh-baked, chocolate-dipped, jumbo waffle cones. You could order one of these eye-popping, belly-busting delights with any two or three ice cream flavors you liked, plus as many dazzling toppings as would fit before they spilled over the edge, like an erupting, syrup-oozing volcano.

Thanks to that “lunch,” for at least the next few hours I reigned as the World’s Coolest Dad!

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* The historic structure, completed in 1899, is built in Romanesque Revival style – which strikes me as being more aptly labeled Romanesque Grotesque. Today, once again remodeled, the Old Post Office houses Washington’s Trump International Hotel, which has become – according to my daughter-in-law Jodi (Adam’s wife), whose office is across the street – a magnet for noisy anti-Trump protests.

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