This is another one of those weeks where plans for the column changed at the last minute. In fact, I had already written a piece that I subsequently decided to put on the shelf when inspiration struck me unexpectedly again. The inspiration I speak of, as is often the case, came in the form of my children. It was my two youngest this time, a pair of beautifully mischievous little girls ages 2 and 3 respectively.

I found myself sitting on my couch Monday morning nursing a nasty cold. I had already been sleeping on the couch for a few nights so as not to get my wife sick or disturb her slumber with my wheezing and coughing. (My choice by the way, not her demand or even request). She had already gone off to work for the day at the hospital and I had already gotten my 10 year old daughter off to school. So it was another cold dreary January day at home with a pair of toddlers who may unwittingly be the the funniest comedy duo since Abbott and Costello.

I sat there under a blanket flanked by a box of Kleenex and several now empty bottles of water. I was adorned in my newly acquired flannel fat boy pants and a college sweatshirt so old that it actually read; Towson State University. Some of you may know that the word “state” was dropped many years ago, and yet I still own and wear the garment. It was the perfect attire for the way I was feeling and the day I had planned. My reading glasses were perched on the tip of my nose as I read some messages from my phone.

Then, without warning I felt a gentle tug on my leg and blanket as my 2-year-old climbed up into my lap and under the covers with me. There are few things in life I enjoy as much as my little girls cuddling up in my lap. Shortly thereafter, the 3-year-old noticed some vacant real estate in the other half of Daddy’s lap and climbed up to stake her claim. I’m not sure if it was their innate desire to snuggle Daddy as much as it was that they had already seen this particular episode of Dora the Explorer several times before. Either way I didn’t care. All I knew was that I had my two youngest perched happily in my lap under a blanket and I was going to enjoy it as long as I can.

I’m not exactly sure how it happened, and it wasn’t even per request of the children. But next thing I knew, we had logged on to YouTube on my phone and the three of us were doing a sing along to the soundtrack of Frozen complete with video.

They stayed perfectly content in my lap for over an hour as we went through every song on that soundtrack, watched each video, and sang along to each one at the top of our lungs. We had a ball and I think they were genuinely impressed by how many of the songs I knew all or at least some of the words to. Now this is where the inspiration part comes in and why I opted to write a whole new article rather than send the one I just needed to proof read.

As I tried to sustain a note from “Let it Go” as long as my ailing lungs would allow I realized that there was nowhere in the world I’d rather be, or nothing I’d rather be doing at that moment. It suddenly occurred to me that this was the happiest I’d ever been in my life and finally, I was right where I needed to be. I wasn’t the slightest bit embarrassed, or concerned for what would happen if someone had knocked on the door at that moment, or longing for the old me in any way. We sat there for the better part of the morning singing, giggling, and cuddling, and I realized that I was the luckiest man alive.

This got me thinking about how drastically my life had changed over the past several years, and even how much I had changed since the inception of Shorebilly’s Swill. It was just a handful of years ago that I was living alone in my 28th condo and driving an old black Mecedes Benz. My only child was about to head off to college leaving me with nobody, and minimal responsibility. I was the engineer of the self destruction express serving up a heaping helping of self loathing in the dining car. I had given up on any hopes of finding “the one”, so I just stopped looking. I was fast approaching 40 which was a milestone that at one point in my life I thought was unattainable. I had come to grips with the fact that not only would I be alone as I took my last breath, but that I was heading for a much warmer climate in the afterlife. I just wanted to have as good a time as possible while I was above ground and ride it out til the end.

Then, from out of nowhere came the love of my life accompanied by a beautiful little blonde haired, blue eyed, dimple faced cherubic sidekick. To say my life change 180 degrees would be a gross understatement. It was pretty cool to find happiness for the first time in my life. Prior to then, I was so happy being unhappy, I never noticed I wasn’t happy.

Even in the early stages of Shorebilly’s Swill, I was the ‘cynical’ Syd Nichols. I was the rapidly aging talentless bartender still slinging drinks in Neverland. Well past my prime, and with no other marketable skills I began regaling you weekly with my loathsome diatribes about how incredibly stupid people can act in a bar. I would search for other people’s foibles, and behaviors to be pissed off about because it kept me in character and made for a good read. My deepest pondering in life was whether or not there was an age requirement to be a curmudgeon. I knew I was already there, I just wanted to know if I was an overachiever or just an asshole.

The following is a partial list of some of the things I used to think about when I was alone:

  1. Why the hell does anyone listen to anything Oprah has to say?

  2. Who decided on the spelling of the word ‘colonel’?

  3. Is Montana really a place?

  4. How the hell is Keanu Reeves still getting work?

  5. Why is it called “tourist season” if we’re not allowed to hunt them?

  6. Do monkeys really like bananas, or is that just some crappy stereotype they’ve been saddled with for generations?

  7. Words written by Kanye West have him living in a mansion. Words written by me don’t even cover my diaper expenses. Figure that out.

The point being, living in a house with a ridiculously compassionate wife and three beautiful little girls has definitely softened me up a bit. My articles aren’t as cranky and edgy as they once were and I have them to thank. I’m so happy with my life that it’s hard to write with bitterness anymore. So my girls have inspired me to change my new year’s resolution. Originally it was going to be to stop procrastinating, but I’ve decided to put that off til a later date. (Yeah, I know I’ve used that before but we picked up a lot of new readers in 2014 so just shut up and play along!) So, now I’ve changed that to this year, I just want to be a better person. I know that’s pretty vague, so now you have to check back next week and I’ll give you some examples of how I intend to do so.

Thanks for playing along.

Until next week, Syd Nichols