Warning: Do Not Read this Post to Your Parents

So my parents visited Bovey and me in Pittsburgh this summer and the four of us are driving down this country road listening to Mumford & Sons.

I’m thinking to myself, I’ll introduce Mom and Dad to some new music, show them how hip I am, as if parents think of their children as hip.

I’m feeling proud as we listen to Marcus Mumford belt out the song, Broken Crown.


I tell Mom and Dad how progressive this band is, how they fuse Bluegrass and rock, making a unique sound, and then Marcus drops the f-bomb.

I’ve listened to this tune a billion times and the f-bomb never bothered me. I completely forgot there was even one in it at all.

It’s only when I listen with my parents that I become acutely aware, like someone dropped a banjo on my head and said, “Look idiot, there’s an f-bomb in this song.”

It’s not like Dave and Zola never heard the f-bomb. I think my dad’s even dropped one or two, although I’m not positive about this. Funny how memory works.

If he did, it was probably over something stupid like smashing his thumb with a hammer or hooking a five iron out of bounds.

My mom though, I’m sure I never heard her drop one. You’d have to rile my mother to within an inch of committing homicide before she might let a shit or a damn slip, but I’m certain I never heard her say the big one.

Lord knows I’m no stranger to the big one, but I’d rather twist my own fingers out of their sockets than let one fly in front of my parents.

Anyway, so we’re driving along and I’m thinking Dave and Zola must believe their son’s grown into some kind of heathen. I hope they don’t notice, and try to start a conversation, “Hey, did you know the Pirates might have their first winning season in twenty years?”

Inside I’m dying but I can’t tell if my parents are bothered. They’re not the type to tell me to turn off the music or lecture me about manners.

Why is it though, that no matter what your age, as soon as you’re in the same room with your parents you feel fourteen again, young and stupid and awkward and lost?

And then the coup de gras. In this Mumford song near the end, the music stops and Marcus spits out the last verse, speaking slowly, driving home every syllable, so when he hits the f-bomb here, it sounds like a three story pile driver smashing into bedrock.

As soon as the song ends I immediately switch to another album. I’m doing this while driving and it’s not like I remember all the songs that have the f-bomb.

So wouldn’t you know, I next play Amy Winehouse’s Me and Mr. Jones. It’s barely started when she drops the first f-bomb. Of course, those Brits have a way of elevating the f-bomb to proper, everyday speech, but for me it’s another dagger in my ear.

Here we go. As I’m driving along taking another beating, I think to myself, f*%k! f*%k! f*%k! They ought to invent a rating system to help guys like me, a system to warn grown children about profane language in music, and that if you want to maintain what little dignity you have left, avoid playing this f*%cking song in the presence of your parents.


Like Some Kind of Johnny Depp

Sometimes when people ask me, “How did you meet your wife?” I sense what they really want to know, “Is your wife a mail order bride?”

Taking a mail order bride doesn’t offend me.

What offends me is that people believe I would take a mail order bride.

Do people see me as one of those dudes with a shaggy back and duct tape holding together his glasses, browsing online bride sites?

I’m sure I’ll get plenty of hate mail from mail order bride business owners swearing they get tons of business from hipsters.

And I’ll probably hear from scores of cool dudes who found mail order bliss and swear they could have picked up a bride in person down at their local watering hole if they weren’t so busy and successful.
Actually, Bovey and I met through work while we were both living in New York, but sometimes when I tell people this, I see that glimmer of doubt in their eyes.

In their mind, I’m sure they are picturing me wandering around Concourse A of LaGuardia Airport with a sign around my neck that says Wilcox, waiting for Bovey to walk up to me.

Bovey worked for the China Institute and I for the American Forum for Global Education. The two organizations collaborated on The China Project, a teacher training initiative. Bovey and I did all the grunt work.

We talked on the phone a lot before actually meeting in person. During our collaboration, I sometimes made up excuses to call her.

“Hey. You think we have enough cheese for the reception?”


“Do we have enough cheese? These teachers will loot the place if we run out of cheese.”

“Who is this?”

After a while, I had to see Bovey in person, so I made up an excuse to visit her.

I told her that for the upcoming series of lectures to be held at the China Institute, we needed a proper map of China and volunteered that I possessed just such a map and could drop it off.

Mind you we’re talking about the China Institute here. They probably had enough maps of China to paper the entire Great Wall.

Oh, yeah, I was smooth.

There’s a circular staircase just inside the Upper East Side building, and that was the first time I saw Bovey, coming down the stairs in heels and a navy pinstripe dress.

I remember smiling like an idiot and not knowing what to say, feeling a little light-headed. I don’t remember much after that.

Weeks later, during a lecture at the Institute, I screwed up the courage to ask Bovey out for a drink afterward.

We went to an internet cafe in the East Village.

I know what you’re thinking. Internet cafe. Total nerd. In my defense, the place was Bovey’s idea. Besides, it was late and the place was convenient, just a half a block from Bovey’s apartment. And we didn’t even use a computer.

We each had a drink and I walked Bovey home then caught the subway back to my place in Brooklyn. I’m lucky I didn’t get mugged on the train because I sat lost in my thoughts, completely unaware of the world around me.

I might not be the coolest guy around, but at that moment, going back over our time in the cafe, picturing Bovey’s smile, feeling the warmth of those brown eyes that held my gaze all night, I felt sure and carefree, bulletproof, like some kind of Johnny Depp.