"I am not throwin' away my...shot!" the two-year-old sings from his pack-and-play in the hotel room we weren't supposed to be staying in. It is 1:36 a.m.
It seems we are going to be talking about him a lot, so let's call the two-year-old "George," since that's a more efficient use of syllables and also his actual name.
We don't leave at first light, obviously, and we don't even leave just in time for the George's nap. Departure time from the Outer Banks is more like 4:30 p.m., which is about the time George is usually warming up on re-entry into the waking atmosphere.
So we don't roll into Philadelphia until about 11:00, to find access to the Airbnb bachelor pad that seemed like a good idea at the time blocked off by a tractor-trailer unloading shrink-wrapped cargo in the middle of the street of the "recovering" neighborhood that it turns out I should have been more suspicious about. The approach to the apartment is like one of those circular mazes on kids' menus: there is only one way in, and every other failed route will leave you having to back an overladen Suburban out of a dead-end one-way road with on-street parking on both sides. Eventually it's more fun in either scenario to just give up and eat the crayons. The tractor-trailer is blocking the lone route to bed, and he isn't going anywhere any time soon. After unsuccessfully circling the elusive portal to hidden treasure for a good half hour, we ditch, and mutter something inappropriate in front of the kids whom we wrongly think are asleep.
We pull up alongside the curb in a part of town where there is unoccupied curb space. My wife and I are both on our phones, scrambling to find a hotel room for six in a pinch, when we find one called The Franklin that looks reasonable.
"We should call that one," I say, but not because Ben is the theme of tomorrow's activities.
About that time a bellman waves to me from the curb, a gesture I interpret to mean something like "you can't park that grotesque, overgrown station wagon here, sir. It does not look right," because in addition to a congenital aversion to the obvious, I am an expert at misreading signals, especially when already perturbed.
"This hotel has rooms available," he says.
Meanwhile Smart Boy here is waving away the bellman, googling photos of The Franklin Hotel, grumpily trying to find a phone number for The Franklin Hotel, trying to locate The Franklin Hotel on Google Maps, all while sitting in the driver seat of a grotesque, overgrown station wagon parallel-parked directly in front of the revolving brass door of The Franklin Hotel.
Tomorrow I am sure I am going to read some proverb from Benjamin Franklin which I should have heeded, but for now I look out the window across Chestnut Street at the floodlit Greek Revival façade of The Second Bank of The United States. It's now a portrait gallery, but it began as a national bank, chartered in 1816 on the model created by Alexander Hamilton.
I cannot get away from this guy.
It's almost 2:00. George is still not throwing away his shot.