It is not easy being a man. Not that it is any harder than being a woman, but a man’s life is not all chocolate and roses.
It starts at birth. Before you know it someone in a mask is coming at your privates with a sharp knife. That is quickly forgotten with the breast feeding thing. But, in a flash that is all over. Then comes the pressure. Immediately, people are pressuring you on your size. “Oooh, look at what a big baby you are! You’re going to grow up to be a football player. Unlike your Dad the midget.” or worse “Ooooh, what a large girl… oh its a boy? That must have been an easy birth.” Yeah, lean closer you old bat, I got a good feeling I could get you right between the eyes with some “aged” milk.
You then have to go through the years of being dressed in “outfits”. When I dressed the boys they looked like men, stains and nothing was coordinated. When my wife dressed them, she had their colours done and everything matched and brought out their eyes. Why, I do not know. Things quickly looked as though I had dressed them. It comes down to the fact that men live in a woman’s world. This is a world where there is a standard that has to be kept when it comes to dressing your children. If your child doesn’t meet the look that your friends and family supposedly expect, you may as well slit your wrists – you are a bad, bad mother. Men, we are different. A matching outfit doesn’t cut it. The ability to burp and break wind at the same time – their is a child that will bring tears to your buddies eyes – literally.
Once you get to school the competition level increases exponentially. You have to be smart. You have to do well in sports. Girls have to like you and boys too. But not that way. It is a fine line to walk. Being nice to girls, but also trying to convince your guy friends that you still think they give off cooties. Trying to get that first slow dance is torture. Girls are bigger. When you hold her close she is staring at all the gel in your hair and you are staring at her breast. However, you have to look as though you are not staring while staring a little. The first kiss. It will be a blurr for years. When you do remember it will be a scenario of palm trees, music, tropical breezes and sandy beaches.
University is a man’s best friend. Beer, girls and legitimacy. You get to act like you always wanted too and there are enough people there that you can always find others who think that the way you act is just fine. Fools. Look where they are now. The fact that you are in university, bettering yourself to eventually turn the world into the place it always should have been, allows you to act like an arse and get away with it. You’re a university guy. You are going to go places. Like the liquor store and the movies. Alas the utopia of university is all too short. You stupidly graduate.
Then your world starts to unravel. You start making plans. The competition thing comes back into play. You need to get a “career”. You need to get “married”. You need to become “responsible” and “settle down”. I remember when it dawned on me that I was not going to be given wads of cash by a company because I could shotgun a beer and tap dance at the same time. Crushing. Little do you know that the worst thing that can happen to you is that you actually land a job. Because the next thing you know people are talking…
Marriage! What! Two years ago I was living large at frat parties. Now they want me to get married. Your first instinct is the correct one. Marry for money. I guaranttee that perfect plan will be drowned out by everyone who is married. Find the right girl. Find a nice girl. Go for one that makes you laugh. Opposites attract. Find someone just like you. Marry a short woman. Marry a tall woman. You need a hard worker ( translation: you are a lazy slob ). Find someone you can love for the rest of your life. “I have,” you scream, “Bud Wiser.” This insanity stays with you for the rest of your life. No it doesn’t stop with the vows, it morphs into something more sinister. More later.
So, you finally get married. The honeymoon is usually great and you start think hey this isn’t bad. Wait until I tell the guys. Whoooaaa, whooaaa and WHOA. Guys!? What in the hell are you thinking? Guys are no longer part of your world. Anything you can tell or do with the guys you can tell or do with your wife. Didn’t you read the fine print. You have just married your BEST FRIEND, in case you didn’t know that already and when you have a BEST FRIEND, you do not need GUYS. Jeez get with the program. Soon the honeymoon will be over. When I say soon I mean within the first three months. Usually less. At that point, your wife will have decided that you are a life form lower than a virus and you have to be “molded”. That toilet seat up thing. That won’t do. Your pleas that your “Mom always put it down” will be met with icy stares. Where a sweater ALL THE TIME. It helps with the coolness in the room. Oh yeah. Your mother is the anti christ. This is not a true assessment of her personality, just a daughter- in-law, mother-in-law thing. Why I do not know. Ask any married guy.
While you are being molded you are probably going through the same thing at work. Your bosses will hopefully see that you have potential and start suggesting things like working late and taking on more projects. If you are unlucky you may also be asked to go out with some “senior” guys golfing or something. You will be trained well at home and your first response will be “can I bring my wife?” This will be met with a hearty round of laughter, while the “senior” guys will pat you on the back and say, “I understand. Your wife has you well trained.” You will laugh back and check the desk for a letter opener that you can run through your heart. Marriage is not all bad. When you get home after a hard day’s work you will be met by your wife, probably a doctor or CEO, in a sexy outfit, with a martini in her hand for you and dinner on the table. Sorry I need a minute, that image always cracks me up.
Molding is all a process of getting you to the stage that when she says “I have been thinking about children” you have lost your will to live and you say “Whatever you think is best dear”. Having children is not as fun as it sounds. You can be watching the last five minute of game seven of the Stanley Cup, tie game, and your wife walks in the room and says “It is that time in the cycle, we need to do it now.” Don’t even think about questioning this. Do not provide any rationale that now could be in five or ten minutes. Just don’t. Now is NOW!!!! And turn off the TV. If you are trying to make a baby with one ear on the play-by-play things are not going to happen. Just think about how wonderous the next nine months are going to be. Sorry again. I need another minute. Laughing.
The thing that gets me is when men say that “we” are having a baby. I was smart enough to never let this idiotic phrase leave my lips. When another man would say it, I would respond with, “that’s the way, I am sure that a bowling ball squeezing out of your genitalia will be no problem for you at all.” “We are not having a baby. My wife is having a baby, I am just along for the abuse.”
I was lucky. There wasn’t much abuse involved. Until we started to go to pre-natal classes. To be fair, I was not the best husband there. I said what was on my mind. If you thought you got icy stares at home, go to a pre-natal class and say what is on your mind. I remember one night that I survived. The pre-natal instructor nazi was going around the room asking the expectant fathers what they were feeling. The usuall response was along the lines of “I can’t wait, I am so excited. I know I will love my child immediately. Heck I love them now, the cute little blastula. I love my wife more than ever.” Gag me. When it was my turn, my answer was “Fear”. Yup fear. My wife and I have a good life now. We do things we like whenever we like. We don’t have the responsibility of a child. That life is going to disappear and I fear the unknown. The nazi’s jaw dropped. Other expectant mothers snickered in sympathy at the fact that my wife married a numbskull. Some men in the room nodded when their wives weren’t looking. My brain kinda froze from the stare that my wife gave me. Oh well. I spoke the truth and that made it sincere at least. Other than that, I paid attention and remembered everything that I was supposed to do to support my wife in the delivery room. Little did I know that I would have been as usefull on the golf course. To be fair I was late for my second child’s birth and had to leave half way through the first. I did come back. Read on. The third child, my car conked out on the way to get my wife. A customer lent me theirs.
By that time I was running my own business. Things were chugging along and we had our normal ups and downs. In the last trimester, we decided in our first house. It was a fixer upper so we did a deal where I could go in and work on it before we took possession. Those were good times. The pressure of a new baby, renovating and dealing with a small business. I had a lot of free time. Of course the first child did not want to arrive on time. He was late. Two weeks late. By that time they wanted to induce. Okay. The date was set for a Sunday. We were to close the house on Monday. No problem. My life can take it. When we set the closing date it was supposed to be with a two week old baby in tow. On the Friday before the delivery day we got a call from Revenue Canada. Those are never good. They had frozen all of our bank accounts for non-payment of taxes. I called back with cancelled cheques. Oh, it seems that they had made a mistake and placed our monies on another account. They would send out a letter to reverse the holds on the accounts the first of the next week! I and my wife went ballistic. We explained that we were closing a house on Monday and we needed access to funds. Otherwise we were going to sue their butts. Little did I know that the threat of a law suit only makes them laugh. Anyway they promised to fax in the letter to the banks that afternoon. Okay.
Sunday morning I took my wife to the hospital for the first application of foam/gel I don’t remember. Bring her back for the second application at four. No problemo. That gives me six hours to go work on the house. Coming back for the appointment, I was met with a wife a mother-in-law and a packed suitcase. Great. I was told that my wife was in labor. Perfect. Give me 45 seconds for a shower and I will be right with you. On the way to the hospital I was noticing that my wife got very quiet at an alarming frequency. I started timing these “quiet” moments to find out that they occurred every forty-five seconds. I looked at her and said “Please tell me that you are trying to deal with gas.” Naw. It was a fast drive. Unfortunately for my wife, the contractions were quick, but she was only one or two centimeters dialated. So went the next 22 hours. I was dilligently trying to do everything I learned from the pre-natal nazi. Only to be told, in dulcimer tones, to “LEAVE ME ALONE.” Now I can take a hint. Especially from members of the opposite sex. I told her that if she needed me I would be over in the rocking chair watching sports. They don’t have porn in delivery rooms.
The next morning dawned. My wife was still in labour. The accounts were still frozen. And Barney was the only thing I could watch on TV. Forget the torture my wife was going through. I had to watch Barney! My nerves were raw. Only until I had to call my lawyer and explain that we could not close the house that day. I was quickly told that if the vendor did not agree we would face severe financial penalties and the deal would be off. Try your best was all I could muster. A couple of hours later the phone in the room rang. To my suprise it was our account manager at the bank. How he got that number I do not know to this day. He was calling to tell me that the bank was calling our current loans and lines of credit with immediate effect as a result of the Rev Can freeze. My protest and explanations on the phone were to no avail. As a result I looked Satan (my wife) in the eye and told her I had to leave “for a few minutes”. Really. I did that. I am still alive. Really. I left. I drove down to the bank tower, went up to the fourteenth floor walked into his office, dialed the lady at Rev Can, put the phone to his ear and said talk to her. After a few minutes he hung up. We were still in business and I was free to go back to the peaceful serenity of the delivery room. Another few hours and our first child was born healthy and happy. My wife had a few “war wounds” that took a little longer to get over.
You know how everyone says that they loved their child from first sight. Not me. For the first six months I was looking for the return lable. These things just devour your time and energy. Once they got to six months and started to interact with you, I wouldn’t give them up for the world. Love at first sight, nope. If a man ever liked the fact that he was numero uno in his wife’s eyes, a child quickly shows how quickly you can drop to number two or further. I am at five and we only have three children. I think the cat is ahead of me.
An older gentleman once told me that you know you are a dad when you have poop in one hand, barf in the other and you are getting peed on. Yeah that’s about it. It always amazed my how much joy my children seemed to get out of peeing on me when I was trying to change them. Once one got it right up the left nostril. He nearly killed himself laughing. Oh their smart. Men, don’t even try to get sympathy for something like this. You will get a barrage of “oh yeah, well I carried this thing for nine months” “look at these stretch mark” “you try passing a basketball for a gazillion hours”. Its why we love them. Compassionate and caring.
Then men we get into the family phase. This is when all things revolve around your children and nothing around you. Want to have sex. Jimmy had a soccer game. Want to have sex. Cindy has piano lessons. Want to have sex. Too tired from the parent meeting. It gets better. You actually get to a point were you believe sex wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and maybe you are really not missing much anyway. Think of it. It was sex that got you in this mess in the first place. Abstinence or polygamy. I haven’t decided what is best. This family phase is when most men start to think that maybe things would be better somewhere else. I have talked to men who have gotten divorced and the usual reason is that they did not feel that they were part of anything other than delivery driver and the person who helped it all happen. Get used to it. The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. It just hasn’t been cut yet.
You spend the next twenty years hoping that you have provided the right finances and upbringing to make your child a success. Don’t worry. They are your offspring. And since you didn’t marry for money they are going to be just like you. Sorry. That’s the way it is. Once they are on their own, when they finally leave home at 33 into an apartment that you are paying for, you and your wife can get back to rekindling your romance. You know that thing that brought you together in the first place. You thought she was hot and she thought you had potential. Well, that’s long gone, so you have to find some other common ground. Gardening seems to be a hot activity. And if you are lucky you could take up couples golf. You and the other guy try to squelch you anger and the women flail away. Ahhhh, nothing brings a couple closer together than an annoying day at the links. There is the hot young thing on the beer cart though. Don’t worry the women are too busy talking about the “daughters-in-law” to notice or care that you and you partner are chatting up the beer hostess. Your reward for this will be a day of antiqueing. Antique shops are great. You can mosey around looking for medievil torture implements while your wife haggles over a tea set that she doesn’t need and keeps asking you “what you think?”. I am always amazed by this. I don’t know if this is the ultimate sign of respect, that your wife thinks you know everything, or she is just an idiot. What do I think about a teaset?” Oh I don’t know let me see the watermark on the bottom of the tea pot then I can consult the vast database of porcelain manufactures in my brain to see if this set is truly worth the $25 dollars asked or if you should beat the seller down to $24. My wife phoned me during her third pregnancy and asked me if I thought she was in labour. No I said and hung up. Needless to say that she called backed. How would I know? was my response. I would assume that if you were truly in labour you wouldn’t be calling me. A few more questions from me about how she was feeling and I said, “Yup, you’re in labour.” To be fair, the first two were induced, so this was the first natural progression. So as men we have to be able to answer questions about the various female functions. Not a small task.
A man’s later years are pretty good. You get to that point where everyone thinks you have lost it and you can say anything you want. Your wife wants you dead and you are willing to oblige. As long as you can take her with you. You can take forever to do nothing and consider it a good day’s work. You can’t drink because it makes you gassy. You spend all your time with friends taking about bodily functions. But, unlike your college days they are serious conversations. You get to buy viagra. The thoughts of sex are dancing around your head. Little do you know the whole kit-n-kaboodle got moldy and fell off years ago due to lack of use.
You have grandchildren. They come and visit and when you get tired you can send them home. You also get to drive your sons and daughters crazy by telling them how they should be raising said grandchildren. Don’t worry about alientating them, they know you have lost it, remember?
Then you die. Hopefully, your wife will cry, and put down her cruise brochures long enough to hear the eulogy. She won’t agree with it and hopefully most of it will be made up. I want to be buried at sea. My family will probably grant me my wish by flushing my ashes down the toilet.
And there you have it.
Until next time, I remain
A Sour Kraut