Louds In The Cradle: Chapter 2.

"Now before I get back to how we got to there from here, I have to duck into the living room to do the 'dad' thing I do: repeating my wife's opinion in a deeper tone of voice. Said opinion is that it's not somehow magically Lincoln's fault that the girl's trip to Great Lakes City didn't quite go as they planned. Hmm. That reminds me of a listenable song from the seventies: Steely Dan's Reeling In The Years. That one is about some poor slob blessed with a crazy girlfriend with an ego problem. From what little I can make sense of from the shouting and huffiness, everyone from Leni on down made the same foolish mistake Lori did when she decided to spend a weekend play-acting at being a city girl for when she moved away next year. I don't know what's sadder: watching someone I still kind of see as the six year old playing with a toy cell phone grow up and away to her own life or listening to her complain because real life got in the way of her goofy fantasy of living in a sitcom. You try being the sap trying to explain that That Girl is a work of fiction that has very little to do with real life or that all most people see when they look at her is "Hopelessly Lost Tourist Too Proud To Ask For Help."

"Ah. 'What trip to the city?', you ask. Well, we have Bobby and Ronnie Anne to 'thank' for that. That's because for some reason, the two of them decided to wish Lori and Lincoln well after graduation. This would have come to nothing had Ronnie Anne not decided that it was only fair to drag her friend Sid Chang along to show her around all of the 'great' places she used to hang out back before Mrs Santiago got to thinking that her daughter would be better off with a lot more supervision than she was getting so she could have something like a childhood. Suffice to say, that didn't go over exceptionally well. They got along great with Sid but what became a burr under nine saddles was the unsubtle intimation that Royal Woods wasn't what you'd call the center of the universe or anything. The next thing she did after delivering the speech Wolfman Jack made in American Graffiti was talk about all of the much cooler sights and places in Great Lakes City. Big freaking mistake because that triggered a super-predictable response: they'd gotten to thinking that somehow, Lincoln was 'hoarding' this cool place to himself to be a jerk like the time he'd gotten an advanced case of Swelling Of The Head when that comic opera British dude started flattering his malleable ass and he'd decided to keep that limo ride he'd won for consuming mass quantities of mustard to himself."

As he walked towards the living room, Sid and Ronnie Anne were standing outside the kitchen door. Having overheard what Lynn Sr was saying, Sid said "You can't blame this mess on me. All I did was tell them that I grew up in the same small town they did only it was in Indiana. It's not my fault that they took it the wrong way." He said "No….it isn't. It's kind of my fault for never quite managing to get them to see that fairness is kind of like the Easter Bunny or Santa: fun to believe in but not actually a thing. Why do you think Luna started the 'Hey! Lincoln is keeping this great place to himself instead of sharing! What a creep!' business five seconds after you talked about expanding horizons?"

"As you know, the end result of that exercise in screaming about fairness and favoritism was that his mother and I had been made to agree to a girl's only road trip to the big city so they too could enjoy the sites and understand what Lori and Lincoln were talking about and, well, do what they always seem to end up doing without realizing they're doing it: make big, loud and embarrassing idiots of themselves they hate being ignored as much as Lincoln does. That's what he never seems to notice: his problem isn't that he has nothing in common with them, it's that he has the devil's own time seeing how similar he and they are. He's just the Loud who has to pay for their acting like demented monkeys because no one wants to hit a cute girl."

"This, of course, led to an extended period of me trying to figure out why the only really positive thing I can see having in common with him is a mutual love of a game show. I know we share the panicky over-reaction to horror movies because we can get awfully literal-minded. I remember the desperate hunger to fit in with the cool kids and the inability to understand what cool things are. I even remember the impulse to do anything, no matter how underhanded, to upstage a favorite child. For the life of me, I couldn't see any of my good traits in that boy. This is because of another negative trait we seem to share: getting distracted and outsmarted and focusing on total non-issues like, say, trophy cases."