Sometimes I ponder how unmanly I have become in the past few years. I could claim that I had no choice in the matter. After all, everyone in our household is female. Wife, four girls, girl dog, girl cat. Every living thing around me is biologically capable of bearing fruit. I bet if I look close enough, the wilted and neglected tomato plant in the backyard has a vagina. I’m sure estrogen coats my walls. Maybe it will leave shadows of clean wall behind picture frames and chest of drawers when we move. Like an elderly chain smoker had lived here for decades. The new owners will probably need new curtains. But I can’t blame the women in my life. My decline started well before my family was formed.
Rewind to a time before I discovered my superpower of self-depreciation and I would say that on the surface I was somewhat manly.
Let’s take an inventory of what being male looked like;
Sports Car – Check
Leather Bomber Jacket – Check
Physically Fit – Yup
Favorite Music – Hip Hop
Miscellaneous Street Signage on my wall – Of Course
Favorite Pastime – Beer
Favorite Swear Word – Fuck
Amazing. From these spectacular beginnings I reached a point, a climax, a fight or flight moment when I exposed myself as a liar.
I met the love of my life who I knew I could marry the night we met. She took about three months to return my calls but that story is for another day. She eventually gave in to my stalking and before long we got a dog. A pet/first child who I will call Dog. The addition of Dog to our small family made Sports Car unwieldy and it gave way to small SUV. I use SUV liberally here, I think it was a RAV4 body on a go-cart frame but the three of us fit happily.
Then as everyone knows happiness equals weight gain, ergo Leather Bomber Jacket and Physically Fit both fell off the list. Girlfriends have an aversion to felony theft and my bad boy first impression was intact so the street signs (which were totally not obtained in any questionable way by myself and two friends on a Wednesday night) had to go. Time marches on and with wedding, jobs, and sissy man sinus problems, beer also became a fond memory for me. At least I had my swearing. Sure profanity and expletives are unnecessary and are always a sign that you don’t have a good grasp on what you are trying to say, but nothing makes you feel like a man like a rebellious “Fuck It”.
Not in front of the baby though. We are always in front of the baby. So there I was releasing the last thing on my manly list. I was oblivious that the list had even existed but my test lay just around the corner.
One fateful night Mommy and I were relaxing on the worlds cheapest couch. Our two bedroom mansion, which may be on MTV cribs, was dark and silent with only a dim lamp on in the living room. We had just our baby, One, to bed and popped in a DVD. The selection for the evening was the Amityville Horror because Mommy likes scaring herself out of her mind and sending me to the kitchen to fetch things while I try and pretend like I’m not creeped out too. After all, I may have sold out my man list but I have a child, dog, and wife to protect. I am still a man.
The weather forecast for the evening was severe thunderstorms. Perfect.
I plan on a story about this first house of ours at a later date but some important details are necessary. This house was constructed by the Pastor of the church across the street. I assumed he lived there until he realized that free wasn’t always worth the price. Maybe he joined a mission overseas so he could have more reliable housing, who knows. The ultimate irony about the house is that while the oak framing was robust enough to burn out saw blades, every other aspect of the house was awful and it was in no way airtight.
The movie was getting to the suspenseful part near the end and the approaching thunderstorm was rumbling in the distance. In a creepy coincidence our front door blows open at the same time as a jumpy moment in the movie. Lightning flashes outside and we laugh a nervous laugh as I shut the front door. I make sure it clicks shut and we pause the movie. Not because we were scared but because of the thunderstorm.
As we sat in the silent and eerie glow of the paused horror show we noticed a scratching sound coming from the baby’s room. Nothing all that horrible but definitely a noticeable scratching. Leaves are blowing around in increasing gusts in the yard and the lightning is getting more frequent with the thunder getting louder. Still more scratching, so Mommy nominates me to investigate.
I quietly throw my shoulder at the crooked door and it pops open. The streetlight outside casts a glow through the oak tree across the room and the wind makes the shadows dance back and forth. The baby crib is near the window and baby One is sleeping soundly. Even so there is still a scratching and it is coming from the window. I step towards the window and squint in the dim light. I am inches away from the window when all hell breaks loose. A mighty wind blows against the window and a crack in the edge of the window lets out a banshee scream. The high pitched squeal scared the absolute shit out of me and I ran as fast as I ever ran out of the room and slammed the door behind me.
Mommy says, “What is it! What happened?!?”
My heart is pounding but even now I realize that it was the wind. I reply between breaths, “I think the window screamed at me. That thing is alive.”
“And you left our child with it!?” she said with a haunting disappointment.
This was the exact moment I gave up any pretense of being manly. I had just abandoned my first born child to the jaws of a whistling window monster and I even closed the door so it wouldn’t come get me too. We had a good laugh but I think a small part of me died that night.
So if you have never abandoned your child to save your own ass in the face of danger, you might be a better parent than me. You’re welcome.
Underdaddy to the rescue.