There are some things that men observe that are a source of pride to him as he sees his son growing into a man. Unfortunately, some of the things that men see as a sign are not enjoyed by the female gender. I give you as a case in point a real experience that I had in my own family. I will give my wife (to protect the innocent) the name of Brunhilda the taskmaster since she is master specialist in handing out loathsome, disagreeable jobs to none other but . . . Me. I will call the “nearly-a-man” who is the subject of this story: Chip.
Brunhilda does not see the development of Chip becoming a man with much enthusiasm. As a matter of fact, I would say disdain and contempt would be better adjectives. She would rather not have Chip grow into the slovenly habits of manhood. To most mothers, (and I believe that most mothers are women), as a group, that growing into the testosterone-laden pursuits of men are not considered acceptable human behavior.
There were early signs. Chip had been observed standing in front of an open refrigerator staring inside for about ten minutes. Brunhilda can hardly stand it.
“What are you standing there looking for?”
“You have been standing in front the fridge for over ten minutes. The temperature in the kitchen has dropped two degrees. WHAT DO YOU NEED?!?!”
“Got any cheese in here?” he finally asks.
“Look behind the milk.”
Five minutes later the door is still open and Chip hasn’t moved. Since his behavior seems very normal to me, I do not say anything. Brunhilda is fuming and showing signs of a stroke or heart attack.
“If you want the cheese, move the milk and get the hell out of the fridge!”
“How do I know the cheese is back there?’ Chip counters.
“MOVE THE MILK AND LOOK!”
“If I move the milk and the cheese isn’t back there – the milk wins.”
“WHAT?!?! That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever . . . OMIGOD! He is turning into a man!”
“Yeah,” I said with pride, “I saw him spill some soda on the floor yesterday, and he just kicked off his shoe and soaked it up with his sock and put his shoe back on. It nearly brought tears of pride to my eyes. He is becoming such a man. He even eats over the sink.”
Oooooh, Brunhilda moaned, I suppose I saw it coming but I just didn’t want to acknowledge the signs. He drove me to a meeting last week and we were twenty minutes late because he wouldn’t ask directions. Then I saw him run the washing machine on an extra large, full cycle with the setting on hot all for a single t-shirt.”
“YES!” I exclaimed, “He runs one of those sticky lint rollers over his sheets. He said it picks up most of the debris and he doesn’t have to wash them as often. I tell ya, the kid’s really got it!
Brunhilda was showing signs of mild shock and tears were welling up in her eyes. I had the feeling I was not cheering her up.
“You’re not cheering me up.” (See, I told you.)
“What’s the problem? You knew he was going to grow up eventually.
“But Chip was my baby! He was such a sweet, sensitive little boy. Now he is turning into another one of those testosterone vessels who bonds more easily with pro-football team than another human who doesn’t recognize dust until it supports agriculture, gives his car a stupid name and shows more emotion over a penalty flag than the birth of a child.!”
“Yeah,” I said, I guess that it’s one of those rare rewards for parenting.”
Brunhilda hasn’t been herself lately and hasn’t spoken to me very much. She might be in one of her moods or else waiting for the end of the football season.