What Happens When Dad Doesn’t Talk?

Category: Weekly Columns


The other night, my wife and I watched “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” a perfectly entertaining, somewhat ordinary movie, with a great cast having a great time. At one point, two characters faced off and argued over who was the alpha person in their relationship. It’s quite clear who is the alpha personality in our home, even though my wife thinks she runs the show. And, I have the bigger mouth.

So, what happens when said “big mouth” doesn’t talk? That is what took place at our dinner table recently. Our family has recently undergone a pretty big change in the family dynamic when we “lost” a family member – my oldest son – to Boston and the beginning of his college journey. We also lost two of our three dogs in the past year, so the Sallan household is a heckuva lot quieter.

I had had a pretty good day for a Monday. I went golfing with my wife. The weather was gorgeous and we were both in a good mood. I was in my 4th month of learning golf and was still using my son’s clubs. I borrowed a 3-wood from the pro shop that I was advised would be good for me.

On the 7th hole, I used that club to hit the ball to within five feet or so of the pin. WOW! Sadly, I two-putted and missed my first chance for a birdie. The rest of my game was equally hit-and-miss until we got to the 14th hole, considered the most difficult 3-par on our course. It’s 185 yards to the tee from the white pumpkins, where most of the men tee off. Our club is in and named after Calabasas, which is evidently somewhere defined as pumpkin and, in fact, there are pumpkins growing all over the course.

Anyway, I used this new club and whacked the ball hopefully in the direction of the pin. It seemed to go straight there, but we couldn’t see it land since it was over 500 feet away. I remarked to my wife, “Hey, that might have run right into the hole.” She gave me a “dream on” look and went ahead and set up her tee shot.

Right after she hit a great shot right into the trap just before the pin, a greens-man rolled up in his cart and over-heard our continuing debate on the chances of my shot going in the hole. He laughs and says; “I was right there and saw it land, roll, and drop right into the hole! Congratulations on a Hole-in-One!”

My wife displayed a big grin and together we let out a huge “WOW.” Going up to the hole and actually seeing my ball in the hole was a kick almost beyond description. We took the proverbial photos with my lousy iPhone camera (something is wrong with it though I do love the phone) and went on to finish our round of golf.

That's MY ball, right in the cup after I hit my 3-wood 186 yards! WOW!

Afterward, we “registered” the hole-in-one with the pro shop, I thanked the head pro for the club recommendation, and we headed on home.

Quite jazzed by my good fortune, I edited the photos, tweeted about it, and then did what I love to do when I’m happy – write. I wrote three quick scripts for our Because I Said So comic strips. I thought they were pretty good and pretty funny.

So, when our reduced family sat down to dinner, we talked a bit about my hole-in-one and then I shared that I had just written three new comic scripts. I proceeded to tell the stories I just wrote, to a double blank-look from my wife and younger son. I wasn’t pleased with their non-reaction and said so. They made a snide comment about me always talking and that they didn’t ask to hear them.

One of my earlier cartoon efforts

Acting like the mature alpha-male that I am I poutingly said, “Well, if you feel that way, I’ll just be quiet the rest of the meal.” They both laughed and said, “Impossible.” I kept quiet the rest of the meal and what happened? We ate in silence. My wife asked my son what happened at school that day to which she got the standard reply, “Nothing.”

I felt vindicated, unless my wife and son really enjoy sitting and eating in silence. It was so revealing of how the dynamic in our family works. I am the loudmouth, often annoying, but equally entertaining if not at least stimulating. My wife has the role of keeping peace, teaching the kids and me manners, running the home, my son has his own teenage life, and I am the Dad.

This spontaneous experiment was fun to do. Hard as it was for me to be quiet for those 10-15 minutes, I found it amusing to watch the significant difference when I wasn’t talking.

Maybe I was vindicated, maybe not. But, it was fun to “experiment” and always interesting to see how our family evolves…

What do you think is the BEST title for my forthcoming book about my cross-country trip taking my son to college?

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