My wife is a sportswriter. This is good and bad.
The good part is this: Say I'm lying on the sofa watching pro football, and my team, the Miami Dolphins, has the ball, and it's third and four, a situation in which the Dolphins, after considering all 3,487 of their offensive plays, always decide to send the running back into the middle of the line for a gain of two yards. ALWAYS. The other team expects it, as does everybody else watching the game, including stadium-dwelling cockroaches, who wave their feelers to indicate: "Here goes the running back up the middle for two."
So as the Dolphins line up -- with the opposing team's entire defense bunched around the middle, holding signs that say, "WELCOME, DOLPHINS RUNNING BACK!" -- I'm thinking this would be the perfect time for the Dolphins to -- Just once! -- try something different, maybe an actual forward pass, which (for the benefit of you Dolphins fans) is when the quarterback propels the ball forward "through the air," rather than giving it to the running back.
And sure enough, when the ball is snapped, the Dolphins, to my amazement ... send the running back up the middle for a gain of two yards! And along with millions of other Dolphins fans, I hurl the remote control across the family room and scream: "Do you BELIEVE THAT?"
And my wife says, simply: "I know."
And the beautiful thing is: She DOES know. As a professional sportswriter, she knows way more about football in general, and the Dolphins in particular, than I do. She has covered many Dolphin games, and conducted many interviews in locker rooms filled with Buick-sized, stark naked Dolphins, although she does not look at them.
Q: How do you know?
A: She assures me that she doesn't look, because she's not interested in a bunch of guys who, manly though they are, do not measure up to me.
Q: But how does she know that, if she doesn't look?
A: Shut up.
My point is that the good part about having a sportswriter wife is that she understands the devastating emotional pain a guy can feel -- comparable to the pain of losing a pet weighing 10 pounds or more -- when a guy's team is run by MORONS WHO WANT TO LOSE.
Now here's the bad part: From time to time, my wife has to go away to cover sporting events, leaving me in charge of our daughter, Sophie. This was easy when Sophie was very small, because she didn't care what she wore. I could have dressed her in a Cheetos bag with holes cut out for her arms and legs. (I would never actually DO this, of course, except to get on "America's Funniest Home Videos.")
But at somewhere around two years, Sophie started caring about fashion, and now, at 4, she is VERY picky. I'll put on her bed what I think is a nice outfit, by which I mean, an outfit that has both a top part AND a bottom part. This is the Two-Part System, and it's how I always dressed my son, who never objected. (He definitely would have worn the Cheetos bag.)
Sophie, however, looks at my proposed outfit as though it's a rat corpse.
"Daddy!" she says. "Those don't go together!"
And she's right. Even as she speaks, the two parts I selected are writhing away from each other, horrified at the thought of being in the same outfit.
So now Sophie picks out all her clothes. This is a LOT of clothes, because she changes outfits many times a day, because God forbid you should go to the supermarket dressed in an Ariel the Mermaid outfit that you've been wearing for nearly 45 minutes! No, to go to the supermarket, you need to change to your bridal gown. (Yes, Sophie has a bridal gown. Shut up.) The problem is, I still have to do her hair. I can't do my OWN hair, which looks like the nest of a deeply troubled osprey. But Sophie wants a pony tail, and she is not happy with the quality of the pony tail I make. I don't blame her: It's asymmetrical. It looks like it's from a cubist pony whose tail grows out of the side of its butt.
So I spend a lot of time picking up discarded (but color-coordinated) outfits and being brutally critiqued on my hair technique by a 4-year-old. It's not easy, but I'm happy to do it to support the career of my wife, to whom I say: Honey, if you're reading this in some locker room somewhere, rest assured that we're OK!
Also, you'd better be reading this with your eyes closed.
-- Dave Barry is a humor columnist for the Miami Herald.