My dad used to tell a story about his silver-haired steel-executive father visiting the big office Dad got when they made him creative director of the Detroit ad agency, Campbell-Ewald.
"Bud," said the old man, gaping in astonishment that pleased and pained my dad for the rest of his life. "Are you this good?"
Dad's gone now, but sometimes I imagine him looking around my little home office, strewn with my papers and kid's toys and empty cans, coffee cups and granola bar wrappers, and asking: "Bud, are you this bad?"
* Yes, I do realize I've been talking about my parents even more than usual here. Maybe it's the time of year—my mom died on Thanksgiving, 1990, and dad departed January 2009. I often say I don't miss them because they're still here, but maybe that's a load of bullshit.