The Mast-Head: Time Out

Forget about work for a minute; my real job, it seems, is driving

    So by now we all know about the soccer mom. Allow me to introduce the ballet dad.

    Ballet dads, of which I am one, are hardly a demographic that politicians are going to be chasing in the next national election, and of course there are as many ballet moms as fathers. Allow me to tell you what it’s like.

    Forget about work for a minute; my real job, it seems, is driving. The oldest of our three children attends evening dance classes three times a week in Bridgehampton, one night a week in Water Mill, and often on Saturdays too. Because of my wife’s work schedule, I play taxi and find myself with hours to kill. I am not alone in this.

    At the King Kullen supermarket, I see them, other dance moms and dads moving slowly along the aisles. A certain less than urgent step gives us away. Want to linger over the packages of chow mein noodles? Well, that’s okay!

    For a while, I found the freedom exciting and hit a different restaurant every night, but I’ve grown bored of that. There’s something uncomfortable about being the only person at the bar on a howling January night, making small talk with the staff when you would rather be somewhere, anywhere, else.

    Eventually, I simply started to sit in my truck listening to the radio, starting the engine every now and then so I did not freeze. Around Christmas, friends gave me a key to their nearby shop so I could use the couch in the back room to just nap.

    Tuesdays, I have two and a half hours to fill. Since I drive a gas-guzzling truck, I am hesitant to head back to the office, plus it is taco night at one place more or less around the corner from the dance studio. Sometimes I invite friends; other times, at the end of a full day at the office, I want to sit and stare at my phone or at the bottles lining the back wall.

    They know me by name there now, and do not hurry me along. I’ve become a regular, a ballet dad with nowhere else to go.