Monday, January 31, 2011
(Father) Male Bonding
A few days ago Daisy decided she was going to Target to pick up a few things. She said, "I won't be more than an hour" as she was heading out the door. Then she stopped, turned around, and said, "Are you guys going to be ok?". It was as if an internal force had jerked her back into the house to ask the question. Almost as if asking the question would rid her of any responsibility if something were to go terribly wrong.
I can see it now. Daisy drives down our street and sees ambulances, fire trucks, and police surrounding our house. She gets out and runs toward the yellow tape only to be rebuffed by the policeman standing guard.
"I need to get in there!" she screams. "My family needs my help."
"Maybe you shouldn't have left." he replies.
"What are you talking about? They were going to be fine."
"Well let me ask you one thing. Did you ask if they were going to be fine before you left?" Stunned silence.
"Then how did you know your husband felt entirely comfortable with the situation."
Again. Stunned silence.
"I'll tell you what ma'am. Why don't you go to your mom's house, get a little rest, and we'll go ahead and clean up your mess."
Back to the story. I said yes, relieved her of any future guilt, and she was on her way. We had bought a cardboard gingerbread house for Christmas that was big enough to fit the both of the boys inside. They had played in it, ripped it up to the point of reinforcing it with plastic coat hangers (thanks dad), and it was beginning to fall apart again. We had been playing "fort" with other couch cushions when I became bored. The gingerbread house needed to be put out of its misery.
"Let's jump off the couch onto the gingerbread house!"
"Yeah!" they shouted.
We launched ourselves off the couch, set the house back up onto its wobbly foundation, and then jumped on it again. We then used the cardboard to slide down the couch cushions. Once that was over Beast looked at his cherished possession. I could see the look of regret on his face. After all, this was the gingerbread house he had wanted to keep "forever". I had to think of something quick.
"Let's light the gingerbread house on fire!"
"Yeah!" they shouted.
We went out to the backyard where I set up a traditional tepee fire arrangement. The lighter didn't light on the cardboard as well as I had liked and the boys seemed to be loosing their enthusiasm. I ran to the recycle box and got a couple of cereal boxes and an egg carton. I carefully positioned them into place and it wasn't long before we had a raging inferno. As the flames licked up into the night sky I had a horrible feeling this wasn't a good idea. Our backyard can be seen from a main road and if the flames were going to get any higher my a-- was grass. Speaking of grass. Our lawn (which was substituting as a fireplace) wasn't looking too good either. I began to worry about the fence and the smoke going toward our neighbor's house. Then I looked at the awe and wonder on my children's faces and worried about what they might tell their future parole office when asked how they learned how to set fires. I quickly got the hose and sprayed down my creation.
Then the boys ran into the house. "What are they doing" I thought. Well, they are like dogs when they hear someone at the front door. Let me repeat. They are like dogs when they hear someone at the front door.
"I'm home!" Daisy said in a sing song voice.
"We may fire!" Fire said
"On the gingerbread house!" said Beast
Silence. I kept my back to the house and continued my hosing. The back door opens. The silence was killing me to the point where I had to look to see if she was still there. She was. And she was staring at me through the cross hairs.
"What......did.....you.....do?" She pronounced each word very carefully, slowly, and methodically so as to make sure she was understood. I started laughing. And when she didn't laugh it made me so anxious that I started laughing even harder. "I'm going to go apologize to our neighbors" as she walked back through the house and out the front door. A couple of minutes later she came back and didn't speak a word to me.
"Well." I said.
Begrudgingly, she said, "Michael said he thought it was funny."
I was relieved. I even went as far as to think, "Deep down, Daisy thinks I'm pretty cool."
If you haven't yet drifted off into a coma then let's transition into chapter 2.
A few days later Beast came down from his room and saw me out on the front step of our home. It was a sunny day and the perfect temperature to sit and drink 7 up. Beast asked if he could join me. He sat down and propped his back up against the house. I propped my back up against a brick pillar so we faced one another.
"I think I'm going to get some fresh air." He calmly took off his shirt, sat back down, and stared out onto the street again as if it was the most natural thing to do. We sat silent for a couple of minutes.
"I think you should take your shirt off too." I searched his face for a smile to let me know he was joking. It didn't happen. Then I waited a little longer.
"Yeah. Um. Uhhhhhhh. Sure. sure. yeah. Let's uh. Let's take my shirt off for a minute." I was speaking as if to convince myself this was nothing to be scared of but it didn't have the desired effect. I took my shirt off and cradled it onto my lap to cover up my belly. I looked at him to see if my shirt was sufficiently "off". Satisfied, he returned his attention to the street. This was not turning out to be the relaxing experience I was hoping it would be.
30 seconds later our neighbors turned into their drive way. My back had been turned toward that end of the street so I didn't have any warning. And God knows Beast doesn't have a clue to the shame I'm experiencing. I was going to make a joke when they got out of their car because they had obviously seen me. Except they didn't get out of the car. I kept waiting. The anticipation was killing me. Were they talking about me? Did they decide this was a good idea to talk over tax preparation? Do I outwardly admit to my stupidity and put my shirt back on? No. I wasn't going to cave. I looked at Beast. Totally and completely relaxed. She got out.
"Great day huh?" I said.
"Beast said we should take our shirts off."
"That's nice" What I would rather have had her do was make fun of me. Instead, she was trying not to embarrass me which made me even more embarrassed. I turned my attention to Michael. Yes. The Michael who calmed Daisy's wrath with the gingerbread house fire.
"Want to come over and take your shirt off too?" I said. And yes, Michael saved me again. He didn't take off his shirt but he did the next best thing. We bantered about how our shirts being off was either attracting beautiful females or repulsing them. Either way it didn't matter. My anxiety turned into laughter. He went into his house.
I looked over at Beast. He was looking at the clouds in complete serenity. Male bonding at its finest.