Saturday, April 26, 2014

An interview with Teddy

My wife and I just returned home from four days in Washington, D.C. where we met our first grandchild, Theodore Edward (Teddy) Dryden, who was kind enough to take time from his hectic schedule to sit for an interview.

TD: You were due April 21 but arrived March 19. What was the rush?

Teddy: I didn’t want to miss March Madness. I had my money on Michigan. My dad went there for his undergraduate degree so I’m a fan.

TD: Were you able to watch any of the games?

Teddy: Unfortunately not. The neo-natal intensive care unit at the hospital had a strict “no TV” policy.

TD: You spent your first 16 days in the NICU but have been home for three weeks now. What’s the major difference between life at home and life in the hospital's neo-natal unit?

Teddy: About $20,000 a day.

TD: Now that you’ve met your grandma Judy and grandpa Tom, what is your impression?

Teddy: They seem well-intentioned but babble like babies whenever they talk to me, argue over who gets to hold me and generally fawn over me the same way I’ve heard they treat their dachshunds who, everyone says, are spoiled beyond redemption. I find their behavior disturbing because I carry some of their genes.

TD: Which one of them is your favorite?

Teddy: Grandma’s an excellent burper – she rubs her hand lightly in a circular motion on my back while talking jibberish and I absolutely love that. On the other hand, Grandpa has promised me a trip to Disney next month. It’s a toss-up.

TD: You’re D.C. born and bred so I have to ask. Do you consider yourself a Democrat or a Republican?

Teddy: Up the day I was born I worked with my mother in the office of a Democratic congressman on Capitol Hill and I couldn’t help but absorb some of what was going on there, so I definitely appreciate the Democratic POV. But, I understand that some people, including members of my own family, are Republicans so I’m going to pass on that question for now. I wouldn’t want my answer to influence their choice of Christmas or birthday presents.

TD: What is your biggest fear?

Teddy: That Russia will return to Communism under Putin, that hyper-inflation will erode the purchasing power of the dollar and that Malaysian and Chinese authorities aren’t telling the truth about the plane that disappeared.

TD: Wow. Very impressive.

Teddy: Realistically, other than eating, growing and sleeping, I don’t have a lot to do at this point so I listen to CNBC and CNN all day and night. I'd have to guess I'm probably better informed than the vast majority of Americans.

TD: Anything else you fear?

Teddy: Missing a meal. I have nightmares about that. Speaking of which, I see mom coming into the room with a bottle right now, so I’m going to have to cut this short.

TD: Thank you Teddy.

Teddy: Thank you Grandpa.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Call me anything but please, please don't call me that

Customer Service Rep: Thank you for calling eBay customer support, THOM-as (pronouncing the “th” in Thomas as one pronounces the “th” in “thumb”). How can I help you?

TD: I listed a British World War One poster a few days ago. It hasn’t gotten many views and no bids which is surprising because that particular poster is rare and very much in demand, so I went back and double-checked. I listed it in the category “Collectibles/Militaria/WWI/Great Britain/Posters” but it’s showing up in “Sporting Goods/Sports Memorabilia/Cards/Posters.” I revised it but nothing changed – it’s still in the wrong category.

Customer Service Rep: OK, THOM-as, I will be happy to help you with that.

TD: Miss, for the record, you don’t pronounce the “h” – it’s pronounced TOM-us, not THOM-as.

Customer Service Rep: Give me a minute, THOM-as, and let me take a look. What is the item number?

TD: One six one two seven three eight seven nine five nine zero.

Customer Service Rep: Thank you for that information, THOM-as.

TD: Uh, you really shouldn’t pronounce that “h.” It doesn’t bother me but Thomas is one of the most common names there is and it might bother some other Thomas in the future. 

Customer Service Rep: I see the issue, THOM-as. I suggest you end the listing and relist it under the correct category.

TD: As opposed to revising it?

Customer Service Rep: Yes THOM-as, for some reason the revision you made did not register.

TD: Look, if you’re going to persist in repeating my first name in every sentence, would you please pronounce it TOM-us, not THOM-as? Haven’t you ever met someone named Thomas before?

Customer Service Rep: No, you are the first.

TD: Well, the “h” is silent.

Customer Service Rep: What does that mean?

TD: It means you don’t pronounce it.

Customer Service Rep: Why?

TD: I dunno, you just don't.

Customer Service Rep: OK THOM-as, is there anything else I can assist you with today?

TD: No.

Customer Service Rep: Thanks for calling eBay, THOM-as. Have a great day.

TD: You, too.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Big news! I'm heir to an oil fortune.

Last year, as a participant in a DNA test spearheaded by a distant Dryden relative, I swabbed the insides of both my cheeks (the ones above my waist, not below it) with giant Q-tips and mailed them off to a lab for analysis. The goal was to try and determine how far back the Dryden bloodline goes and what those of us who bear the name might possibly be in terms of our ethnicity – Peruvian, Ethiopian, Neanderthal, etc.

Turns out most of my fellow swabbees  – Drydens from the U.S., U.K., Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia – aren’t Drydens at all.

Back in the 1400s there was a valley outside Edinburgh, Scotland, known as Driden Wood. (Driden apparently means “Dry Valley” in Scottish.) The valley was owned by the Sinclair family. Some of their descendants may have used not only their last name but the place where they lived to distinguish themselves from the other Sinclairs in that part of the world. For instance, James Sinclair de Driden, LaToya Sinclair de Driden, Billy Bob Sinclair de Driden, etc. Over time, that name evolved into “Sinclair de Dryden” and, finally, plain old “Dryden.”

It may take some time to prove it definitively but I'm almost sure I'm an heir of Harry Ford Sinclair, founder of Sinclair Oil, America’s thirty-eighth largest independent company. (Full disclosure; Uncle Harry was implicated in the Teapot Dome Scandal and spent six months in prison for jury tampering but I for one appreciate the lengths he went to to protect my inheritance.)

Now I'm working to determine my connection to the Fords because Harry Ford Sinclair, it stands to reason, was related to Henry, so I'm probably entitled to a cut of the Ford Motor Company, too. 

After all these years my ship has come in.

Blood is at least as thick as oil, don’t you agree?