Many houses in Pinamar have names.

Why not ours then?

My grandmother named hers in the south of England after Ballynafoy, her birthplace in Belfast. Then for me it would be Brentwood, Los Angeles or Santa Monica. Maybe West L.A. Hmm, not so poetic as Ballynafoy.

My wife shot down any such intentions. “Don’t even think about it,” she said.

So I left it at that.

Most of the names are lame anyway, The Chill Out, Two Below Par, 4X4 Full. Stuff like that.

So our house is nameless. Just the traditional numbers.

Then a friend from the city brought up the subject during a visit. “You ever thought of naming your house?”

“Nah,” we said.

But she and my wife got to giggling about it and they came up with the perfect name. The Brick House.

Original, I thought. Our house is made of bricks. What about Log Cabin?

So the topic died away – until we were burgled. That got my thoughts racing again. A name that’ll tell the bastards to keep away. Get Lost, Scram, Don’t Try It. Or: Try Next Door, We’ve Been Done Already. It’s Empty.

“That’s not funny,” my wife said. And she, with her more straight-to-the-point and bawdy tongue, came up with the stopper: Fuck Off.


I’d rather eat my own hand than go, my wife says. You think along those lines, though less graphically. But it must be done. Family day at school. Teachers to talk to. The principal. People to meet. You think I’m no good at this, the small talk and the crowds. But the kids are gung-ho at the idea. So you go, cheerily as you can.

You and the other families are divided into teams, given a colored piece of paper to pin to your shirt. The Blues, the Pinks, the Salmons. You’re with the Greens. Off you go. Win, win, win. Beat them at musical chairs, sack races, hoops. Have fun.

At the first game, the pillow race, you stand at the back. You look on, your two kids with you and your wife with your four-month-old daughter. Get with it, you think. Let go of your inhibitions. Participate. Clap, hoot, holler, smile. Cheer on the Greens. Go for it. Do it. For the kids.

It is your wife who is the first to steal away – to feed the baby.

You participate. You race with your five-year-old daughter, holding the pillow between your backs, not dropping it. Get to the midway marker and turn around. Don’t drop the pillow; keep it between your backs. Race. To the finish – and you’re second to last. That was good. You huff. Did you have fun?

You look at your team, hooting on the next racers. You look for your three-year-old son and he’s not there with the Greens. He’s walking off, following his mother’s exit. Now your daughter is following too. Sorry team, but parental duties call. Got to get the kids, sorry. They’re now with their mother, in the play area, 50 yards away. On the monkey bars, down the slide, in the sand pit. Other kids follow and soon there’s a crowd on the monkey bars, the slide, the swings. They’re playing Power Rangers. Pow! Pow! Pow!

And you’re sat next to your wife and baby, and talking with a guy you’ve seen around. He surfs, you surf. This is good. You talk about the surf spots down south. Oh, and did you catch it the other day, at the Rambla? It was going off. Insane, the best ever. Absolutely.

Lunch comes, lunch goes. A picnic. Then the activities resume, the games, the awards ceremony. Come on kids, come on parents, the teachers call out. Clap, hoot, holler. The Blues have won it.

Come on kids, come on parents, they call out again. The music is on for a dance. You take the kids; you try to dance. Wriggle your shoulders a bit, move the arms, the legs. Smile and move your body, a bit. But you can’t. You can only nod your head. If anybody looks at you, just smile. No, you say, you’ve got to let go. Do it. Dance for the kids. Other parents are jigging, spinning, twisting, wriggling. All the moves, following the lead of the teacher. Jigging, spinning, twisting, wriggling. They’re into it, fully. You try again. But your daughter and son are not into it so you back away, to your wife, the surfer, the monkey bars. You sit back, stretch out your legs and think this is more like it – it’s either this or self-inflicted cannibalism.


Three strikes and you’re out. If that were true for me as a computer user, well, I’d be long out. Forgotten. Gone. This is because I have something in common with computers. We’re both fragile. It breaks and I break. I break down weeping and frantic. I lose my cool, pace around and think why could this happen again. Curse, pace, curse, pace.

Just ask my wife to testify.

So it happens again. A message to upgrade a program pops up. “Oh, yeah. Okay,” I think. And click. It’s not a virus. I’m not that bad – anymore. It’s a program update, a heavy file. For those in the know about computers that means check things first, clean up, run a Disk Utility or something like that. I just go click. And continue my work. There are deadlines to meet, stories to write. The message comes telling you to restart the computer. “Oh, yeah.” Click.

And that’s it. A half hour later and you’re still waiting for the computer to start back up, getting anxious. Deadlines to meet, stories to write. Not again. Yes, again. The computer’s down and you’re weeping, frantic. You’ve lost your cool and you’re pacing, cursing. Pacing, cursing. All those work files at risk of total loss – and the family photos. The music downloads. The contacts. Everything.

And I think, crap, I’m a moron. Without this technology I wouldn’t be able to live in a pine forest at the beach. So suck it up and admit defeat. You suck at computers but you can learn. You can get better. You can change. So you say to yourself and to your wife, “I promise, I really and truly promise. I’ll never do it again. I’ll be good and get better, improve, do things right, back things up, save it all on a second hard drive.”

Yes, I will. But just let me finish this work first. There are deadlines to meet, stories to write.

And you know you’re doomed.