If I could miniaturize I’d go into my middle child’s mind. I’d see what’s in there. I know it’s good. There are dragons, robots, robot dragons on this racing space treadmill of the weird and undiscovered. It’s a thoroughfare of thought that runs right across the front of his brain. Occasionally this Dr. Seuss smorgasbord of new and wonderful creatures goes out of focus. Gradually emerging in the distant fog is the rest of his family at the dinner table looking at him.
“Welcome back, Otto!”
That could be the name of a TV show but it’s also a household catchphrase. Where did he go? What fantastic beast was he riding into a sunset cloud?
I took the kids to a business meeting the other day. It was spring break. School was out and the family was in. But I needed to finish up some work. The kids joined me in Boulder for a few meetings. The first was at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. I logged that adventure. The second was at a hip little coffee shop. I outfitted the kids with hot chocolate and cupcakes while Adam Mayer of Boulder Startup Week and I figured out details of their big event in May.
Boulder can vex like a Brillo codpiece but startup week is the very best mix of big brains and neo-hippie flower showers of good vibes. I wish I didn’t cringe when someone said something about good vibes or glowing chakras or some such. Those are things I should respect and care about. I don’t wince a bit when we’re all eating chocolate on the day dead Jesus is supposed to punch his way out the casket. I mean that’s truly disturbing. But you get someone too enthusiastic about your aura and I get nervous and look around to make sure no one else is listening. For the painfully self aware like me, Boulder Startup Week mixes in enough business to balance the Buddha.
But it also makes me think that I shouldn’t care what people think. I’m thinking about that very thing as I discuss money with Adam. I’m wondering, am I pulling off this business talk? Am I believable? And I go on this inner dialogue. Part of me working very hard to follow his explanation of sponsorship levels, and another part of me really worried that I might have early onset of some brain-eating disease. Not only do I have attention issues, but whatever is left is being cannibalized by doubt. I’m getting closer to pulling out of the dive and cobbling together some cognition when Otto starts saying “dad.”
Dad. Dad…dad. He goes a few times before I tell him to hold on because I’m talking business. For a moment I imagine jumping onto the table and ripping off my normal clothes to reveal an sparkly Uncle Sam outfit. “See kids…business!” I shout.
“Dad. Dad…dad..” I finally break down.
“Excuse me, Adam,” I say to my patient counterpart.
“Otto,” I begin. The most business I’ve sounded all day. “Do you have something about Boulder Startup Week because that’s what we’re talking about?”
Otto has this thing where he’s slow to get to the actual words. He builds up. Little head gnomes rushing around piecing together this fantastic thing that just rushed by on rollers. He starts with little vocal fragments. Flecks of words flying out. I’m usually not patient enough to pick them up. So I push.
He’s getting there. He takes great care to get the thought just right; even has Adam watching, eyebrows raise. The garage door to the brain. They’re up. Open to whatever. The woman at the table next to us turns from her book and is trying not to look too interested. What is this excited kid stuttering about? It’s going to be big. When all of it comes together in his head, it’s going to Kool-Aid Man into the room.
Older brother Quin mutters something about Otto. It throws off his game. He turns to glare but his thoughts are still streaming across the room, dangling excitement.
“Otto, don’t let him get to you.” And I’m way beyond hippie chakra conversation uncomfortable. I just want him to get on with it.
And he let’s it out.
“Dad…dad…do you think we could build a dragon out of other animal parts?”
Rarely do long-awaited releases live up to the hype.
We were sidetracked for the next few minutes. I mean, you could do something with genetics. I explained to Otto you’d have some decomposition issues and a raft of problems with getting the guts to work again. He calms my concerns with some backup ideas about animatronics and skin made out of gold. Adam, a successful tech entrepreneur, isn’t entirely confident something like that could be done. The woman with her book smiles and turns back to her book.
We’ll talk about that when we’re heading home, I tell him. He held me to it. And while we’re talking I imagine a gilded dragon bursting out of a quaint little coffee shop and spiraling into the Colorado sky.