For Obvious Reasons

There’s a long loop I drive sometimes to get my kids to nap. The suburban arterial narrows to two-lane highway. 3:00 pm light shatters on the reservoir.

The border patrol roams the stretch where my passengers doze off.

One time I saw a guy standing on the shoulder near the abandoned dentist office. He gripped his backpack strap, and with the other hand, signaled his intent to cross. Body language from another realm.

I could have pulled over and let traffic break for him. Popped the passenger door open. Put my finger to my lips and tossed my head back at my sleeping daughter.

Whispered, “Where to, sir?”

If he paused, tried with, “A dónde, señor?”

And played ferryman for him on his great journey.

But I didn’t.

For obvious reasons.


A couple years ago I had one of those 7th graders who gets her body two years early. She attempted modest dresses. Styles religious girls wear.

Her grades and smiles faltered in the middle of the year. I tried to be understanding. Pushed an essay deadline out for her.

Her final draft was incoherent.

I called her to my desk. “This is not your best work,” I said.

Her smile collapsed. She went back to her seat, carrying herself with sudden hardness.

I could have waved her back again. Stood to show respect. Said, “What’s the matter, honey?”

And let her make the breast of my shirt transparent.

But I didn’t.

For obvious reasons.


I try to write on the couch in the mornings. It’s still dark. Only my three-year-old and I are up.

Yesterday he maneuvered onto me and pistoned on my ribs until it hurt too much to laugh.

He said something I didn’t catch. Then sniffed me. With that extra context I knew he’d said “smells.”

“What smells?” I said.

“Daddy,” he said.

I was reluctant to ask. But asked anyway. “What does Daddy smell like?”

He sniffed again. Considered. “Good,” he said.

I could have hugged him back to my chest. Wept into his hair. Grieved the fleeting innocence that sourced the compliment.

And bequeathed him an early memory of his dad sobbing.

But I didn’t.

For obvious reasons.