The easiest place to hide is right there.

Right in front of you.

That’s why actors do it. The acting.

You can can stand in the chill of a Houston fall holding an unloaded deer rifle on your pale and pancaked co-star and he won’t see you.

You can fight the worst hay fever of your life on the deck of a decommissioned submarine in the navel yards outside of Oakland and get dumped in a vat of that stuff that thickens McDonald’s milkshakes, except in this case it’s dyed black to resemble diesel oil, and they’re not laughing at you.

In the Studio City Trader Joe’s when you feel some one staring at you, working so hard to place you the click of their cognitive machinery is almost audible that they risk the free fall between the safety of their grocery lists and the pressure drop of a stranger’s proximity just so they can ask if you are that guy, that guy in POWDER or DOWN PERISCOPE, or more usually, some one they went to school with or had a crush on once or met in some airport bar, and you’re right there, right in front of them and you know your provenance is the re-run, the hotel pay-per-view summoned to hatchet the late hours in an unfamiliar place. But to them you are semi-precious, worth the effort if not the price. They look right at you and don’t see you.

We don’t do it for love or money. We do it for the cover.

My wife asked me if I would want to have a baby on a crappy flip phone from the metal steps of a half banger on the set of the first iteration of CHARMED, dressed in a Bob Mackey Cleopatra costume, her voice sudden and real and not at all like a voice over a cellular connection. I said yes immediately. Like most parents we wanted our daughter before we even met her, loved her before we knew her and even understood, perhaps like most parents, that such emotional adamancy, such a strident desire for an experience unseen, if applied to any other aspect of modern life would leave you broke and despondent. That Darwinian directive to multiply, extend, not bodies in space, but love beyond space, makes happy suckers of us all. For when she came, after forty-three hours of labor, and no more than a bowl of heated neroli oil to kill the pain--when she crowned, at home, no less than eleven inches from where she had been conceived, on our bed, her one-day family bed--I knew our daughter would do what nothing up to that point in my life had ever done. She would do what all babies do.

She would blow my cover.

This book is what happened to me when the lights went on inside me, when it was just my little girl and me for several months while her mother was off making our daily bread.

I wrote it in snatches, in quarter hours, spare minutes purloined from the daily center of the universe that is cold breakfasts and hot lunches and dress-ups and cool downs and naps and not-right-now naps and all the gravitational agencies that orbit the assembly process of the inner workings and outer hygiene of the most special and yet statically average human being.

I want you to read it. I want you to like it. But I only wrote it for one person. And I had to wait a whole decade before she was old to enough to appreciate it. She’s read it by now. My daughter. She read about herself just this year-- before she even knew herself and about me, thinly disguised, and our house much less convincingly disguised--and that experience, that culmination of that not-hiding, that has been exceptional.

My hope is for many but my audience is of just one.

THE MOMMY MACHINE explores the wondrous and unusual way nine-year- old Chloe Taggert heals herself after the death of her mother. Caught in the twilight between fresh loss and the beginning of mourning, her father, Brian, discovers that his daughter’s unique efforts open the door to his own healing, as well as that of numerous others.

Taking her mother’s cold shoes, oncology reports and other personal effects, Chloe builds The Mommy Machine, a cocoon-like soft sculpture that has the near-magic ability to to conjure the comforting essence of the deceased woman. After a chance meeting with Brian’s old art rep, Carly, what he initially saw a cute little comforting kid’s fort is seen to have enough potential to perhaps impact the post-modernist art world. After an extremely successful opening, it is clear The Mommy Machine’s evocative and transformational powers are not limited to one heartbroken little girl. Determined to break free from the judgement of his own family, Brian makes the first of several questionable choices when he decides to take Chloe out of school to accompany her piece on tour. Father and daughter soon find themselves on the surreal road to national prominence, a road fraught with emotional confrontations, unlikely friendships, and impossible parenting choices. Father and daughter are forever redefined for one another as they discover that life is inexorably yet paradoxically loosening our grip on what no longer matters to help us more firmly hang on to what does.