The Master Class in Emotional Manipulation

Sometimes, you just need a little pick-me-up.

My family of three ran a few errands yesterday afternoon and those menial tasks would likely have taken us straight through dinner time. “What do you guys want to eat for dinner?” I said. Before Lynnette and her pregnancy appetite had a chance to reply, Madison blurted out “Nachos. I want spicy nachos, dad.” “But I just ate Taco Bell for lunch,” I said. “Daddy just ate Taco Bell for lunch,” Lynnette said with more than a tinge of patronization. “I really want nachos, though,” Madison said. There was a beat of silence. “But we don’t have to if you guys don’t want to,” she added with more than a tinge of pathetic resignation.

Well, I decided if Madison was going to try to emotionally manipulate me, I was going to emotionally manipulate her right back. “I tell you what,” I said. We locked eyes via the rear-view mirror. “If you can tell me eight (of course) things you love about me, then we can eat at Taco Bell.”

This guy over here...

This guy over here…

“Well, I love you because we both love the Mets and we both love the Cowboys – that’s two, dad!” she shouted. “Wait, what?” I said. “Oh, oh, and we both love sushi!” she quickly added. “Wait. You don’t even like sushi! You only eat the spam and egg ones!” “I EAT THE TEMPURA ONE TOO DAD AND THAT’S SUSHI!” she shouted from the back of the Highlander. “You right, you right,” I said.

“But Madison, it’s not what you have in common with dad, it’s things about dad that you love,” Lynnette said. “Yeah, only about me,” I added. Silence. I pretended to cry in the front seat. “Stop it, dad,” Mad said. “Madison loves Taco Bell more than she loves me!” I wailed. “WAIT! I’M THINKING!” she screamed.

“I love it when you take me fishing,” she continued. “Oh, I really like that, too!” I said. “And?” Lynnette said. “And sometimes dad brings home the apple and watermelon li hing mui…” Mad added. “AND THEN YOU EAT ALL OF IT!” I shouted. Her response to this accusation was laughter, which I was able to capture here.
“Madison loves me because I have candy!” I shouted, throwing up my hands.

Perhaps sensing my dismay, Mad quickly threw in “Oh, and daddy is handsome!” I grinned and nodded. I turned to look at Lynnette who was wearing a face full of contempt and shaking it slowly left-to-right, then back again. “It’s true,” I said. I started elbowing Lynnette so as to insinuate that maybe she should physically manifest her love for her handsome husband later that night, but was met with a resounding “Pffftttt!” Oh, well. “And I love that daddy and me have the same fat feet,” Madison said. Truth be told, that was pretty weak, but after the seventh one, she could have said anything and it would have passed.

I agreed to eat at Taco Bell and in un-Matty fashion, ordered something different from what I ate earlier in the day. I was in the middle of my second taco when it dawned on me that she had emotionally manipulated me again and she ultimately got her way because of it. I sat in a kind of sheepish silence. I didn’t even see it. I was too busy gloating to my wife about my handsomeness to see it. I hate losing to Madison. In anything, but especially in things I’m good at. But I got over it quickly; I had a taco in my hand and one more sitting in its wrapper, just waiting for a handsome man to devour it.

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