The Modern Captain – My Sitcom Moment


Captain’s Log. Daddy Chronicles. Diaper Date Unimportant. Today, I lived a scene from a sitcom. Except there was no script, no actors, no audience to witness my ingenuity and buffoonery. Just me, my daughter, our bike, and my nemesis – the Ice Cream Man.
The Ice Cream Man (hereafter known as ICM) is my nemesis. He isn’t a bully. He’s more like the class clown that always makes you the butt of the joke when the cute girl is paying attention. In this case, the cute girl is my daughter.
So let me set the stage for the real life sitcom moment (RLSM). It is the half hour preceding tub time for my daughter. She is excited about school, so nighttimes have gotten better – as long as we stick to the routine. She has already eaten and has declared that she wants to go for a quick bike ride before tub time.
I can handle that.
Now understand this. The Captain is not a cyclist. I don’t own the spandex shorts or fancy Fedex uniform with the water bottle holder on the back. The Captain wears whatever he is wearing for bike rides. Attire is important when you are competing, racing, going fast.
Here? There are no time trials. There are no hills. There is no race. It is a simple 2.5 mile course between two cul-de-sacs. The Captain rides for leisure – not legend. However, legend found me this day.
And do we find our hero pedaling his bike with an extension connected for The Eldest to pedal along. It is like a bike and a half. Every now and then she pedals and I can take a break for a few seconds. Every now and then she pedals backwards and I have to compensate. But we aren’t going fast. Just going.
We complete the first circuit. Home is within sight. Then she says, “Let’s do that again.”
I’m a gamer. She’s happy. Sure – Let’s ride it again.
I am turning the corner to start the circuit again when I hear it.
The Batman theme.
Who blares the 1960’s Batman theme? The ICM. My nemesis.
It is at this very moment that I feel the presence of an Angel (or is it a devil) on my shoulder – only it is in the form of Phil Dunphy of Modern Family fame.
“Captain. You have to outrun that truck.”
“I can’t make it. I’m not a cyclist.”
“Captain, that’s a defeatist attitude. How many times has the ICM taken your money this summer?”
“Too many times.”
“That’s right. Too many times. Are you gonna let him rob you of the last crummy dollar in your pocket, so he can continue to rule the streets of your neighborhood blaring the soundtrack of television shows from your childhood?”
“No. This ends today. No more money ICM. No. More. Money.”
“That’s right. Who’s the Captain?”
“I am.”
“I said – WHO IS THE CAPTAIN…Captain?”
“I AM!”
“Then smoke that ICM. Pedal like you have never pedaled before.”
Meanwhile, The Eldest has no idea what is happening since she was not privy to my internal dialogue with the fictitious dad friend I sometimes imagine is my golf partner (no judging…and I don’t even play golf). She hasn’t heard the music – or at least hasn’t recognized the source. She is just enjoying going fast.
I pedal like I am navigating the third stage of the Tour De France. He isn’t getting my money today. I’m. Going. To. Win.
And just as suddenly as the Batman music appeared – it became a distant memory. I had won. I still had my last dollar.
The middle of the course is a turn around in the second cul-de-sac, followed by some back tracking, followed by a turn down a side street.
As we make our turn in the cul-de-sac, I hear it. It is soft. Hidden. Like the first several bars of the Jaws theme. Then it gets progressively louder. It is the theme to Mission Impossible.
Just when I was starting to relax, the truck emerges from around the corner. We are now facing each other. Mano y Mano. Face to face. Wheel to wheel. And the ICM waves. He knows he has my other Washingtons. He wants one more for his collection, and he knows the weakness to my wallet is sitting right behind me. (Note: She is no longer pedaling.)
I give a semi nod and pedal. I’m pedaling faster than any biker in the history of cycling (meaning my legs feel like they are going fast, but the bike is not actually moving at mach speed – in truth it seems so much faster because the ice cream truck is going so slow and in the opposite direction).
I realize that I can’t keep up this pace. I ask myself a question – What would Phil do? He would outsmart the truck instead of racing it.
So the Captain, in the name of the last dollar, took a haphazard, backwards trail back to the house hoping to miss the future route of the ICM and instead follow the path he had already been.
He almost caught up to us on the back end of our journey. The theme song to Hawaii-Five-O was blaring behind us like a cautionary tune. We turned the corner and the ICM turned the other way.
Phil would be so proud.
The spoils of victory include – the one dollar I have left, a lack of dessert , and a painful understanding of why cyclist wear all that spandex. Next time I will not dress for leisure. I will dress for performance just in case I do hear that Jaws theme next time.
Just in case Phil calls me to duty.
I will be ready for you ICM. Me, my bike (and a half), and my angel named Phil. So be aware.
For now…the Captain is off to ice and stretch. Captain out.

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