DogHouse Manifesto

Prince Charming & Prince Wrong, Wrong, Wrong…

We have a new neighbor. Her name is Nancy. She is recently divorced. She has a son named, Timmy.

Mr. ‘Nancy’ is long gone. Mrs. ‘Nancy’ is pissed off at the world in general, and men in particular, and little Timmy is just confused and frightened.

Me? I have a pretty good idea of how little Timmy feels, and I’m just trying to stay out of the line of fire.

Now, don’t get me wrong- Nancy is a nice enough young woman, and maybe that’s the problem? Nice young women very often choose Prince Wrong, Wrong, Wrong- I don’t know why.

The end result is, that when the Mrs. ‘Nancy’s’ of the world figure out that the man they married is Prince Wrong, Wrong, Wrong- usually just about the time they catch him in bed with someone else, or find cell phone video of him and someone else, or… well, you get the idea- they tend to get majorly pissed, and begin attacking and clawing at the perceived responsible remainder of humanity, most of which are male: including their sons.

Why is it that women who are pissed at the world in general, and men in particular, end up taking it out on their sons?

Mrs. Nancy is so pre-occupied with making sure that her son turns out nothing like Mr. ‘Nancy’, that she is turning little Timmy into a major ‘Nancy.’ She dresses him like a tourist and a missionary: two-tone saddle shoes, Bermuda shorts, white short sleeve shirt and a bow tie- he looks for all the world like he should be knocking on doors and asking perfect strangers if they have, “Heard the good news?”

Add a cowlick, braces and horn rim glasses to the mix, and he reminds me of Margaret, from Dennis the Menace! (That’s vaguely Oedipal and really wrong- I know.)

Little Timmy is so confused and frightened, I wonder how he even manages to stand on his own two feet most of the time? The very first day she brought him over to meet my wife and I, he called me Grandpa. At first, I didn’t really like it, but it didn’t take me more than a few minutes to realize that he was so starved for some male attention, he would have called a perfect stranger, Grandpa.

Okay- so I am a stranger: not perfect, as you all know, but I’ll take it. I have a few good qualities, not many, but one or two and maybe, just maybe I can give little Timmy as shove in the right direction?

Which brings me to my point…

Girls, let me clue you in on a little secret: there is no such man as Prince Charming!

I know, that’s not what you were told, and mostly, believe it or not, by your fathers. (That another WHOLE series of other stories! Don’t get me started!) Well, they meant well, but they did you a grave disservice all the same. Prince Charming is what we all aspire to be. That’s it. That’s all. We’ll never get there. Oh, we’ll try, and on some days, we’ll come close- but close is all you’re ever going to get. Close can be good enough, depending on the man and the woman.

If we skip ahead, there’s Prince Wrong, Wrong, Wrong. He’s the guy who you think is Prince Charming, but only because he has learned how to ‘game’ the system. If you are patient, and wait a bit, he will eventually show his true colors, and then that’s when you should run, run, run!

But, what usually happens? Mrs. ‘Nancy’ doesn’t run, run, run. Instead, she tries to change, change, change Prince Wrong, Wrong, Wrong! And why? Because Prince Wrong, Wrong, Wrong is exciting and maybe even a little bit dangerous. He has a castle and a couple of really nice chariots, never mind that they’re all a virtual house of cards that wouldn’t stand up to a stiff breeze, if it wasn’t for the loans, mortgages, bad credit debt and a truckload of lies holding them up!

It doesn’t take long, somewhere between a few months and a lifetime, and Mrs. Nancy is tired, worn out, embittered, confused and angry. And, if she has played her hand really badly, she will have a little ‘Nancy’ girl or ‘Nancy’ boy to raise by herself, after her ‘Nancy’ man has run off with yet another little girl, who thinks he is Prince Charming!

And, then, there are the rest of us- the Prince Not-So Charming’s. We’re the guys you never, or hardly ever look at. We’re the mechanics, bank managers, school teachers and yard workers; the truck drivers, garbage men and delivery drivers; the ordinary, average work-a-day ‘Joes’ whose idea of excitement is a beer (Just one, thank you.) or (preferably) a good cup of coffee at the end of a long and trying day. We’re not wild, dangerous or unpredictable; exciting, colorful or dangerous- in fact, we’re really rather dull and boring.

But, you can find us whenever you want us. We’re usually in one of three or four places: in the garage working on something, outside working on something, at work working on something, or on the couch resting from our work.

And, every once and a while, you might just stumble over one of us in your bed…

And, we’re not hard to please. We don’t want much. We want to feel like we matter, like we’re important to you, like we’re valuable and then- and here is the magic that your dad should have told you about- we are mysteriously transformed; not from a frog into a fairy tale Prince Charming who doesn’t, and never will exist, but into a real life Not-So Prince Charming, who only wants to love, adore and cherish a real, live and breathing woman for the rest of her life!

Okay- so, it’s not Snow White, or Cinderella, but the alternative isn’t a fairy tale, so much as it is a nightmare.

So, what is my point to all of this? I don’t know, exactly. I didn’t do the best job raising my own sons. I tried, but we all fall short of expectations, even our own: old lions vs. young lions. So, maybe I can redeem myself in part, with little Timmy?

If I were the vaunted, and exalted- if imaginary- Prince Charming, then I could blow some fart out of my ass, and you would probably believe me, but I’m Prince Not-So Charming, so here is the truth:

I’m going to continue to complain about having to spend time with, and baby-sitting little Timmy, the missionary, but only in front of you. Timmy will get my undivided and complete attention whenever you foist him onto me, or whenever he is within spitting distance of my voice, because that’s what he deserves from a ‘real man’, even a ‘Not-So’ perfect old lion, whom he insists- miraculously- to call, Grandpa.

And, you can denigrate me and deride me, call me stupid, and an idiot- even in front of him- all you want. It doesn’t matter to me, because, believe it or not, my shoulders a pretty broad and I know exactly who I am, and I am going to do my best to make sure that the little Timmy’s of the world get a fair shake, and a running head start at becoming what all ‘real men’ should be…

Not some unattainable, impossible fairytale legend; but a living, breathing functional Prince Not-So Charming, who is trying his best- and failing here and there, but mostly succeeding- in a world that is stacked against him.

 That’s my job…

and, I’m pretty good at it!



  1. Susan Winter

    March 3, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Mitchell– excellent article!! Thank you. Susan

  2. masodo

    March 4, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Well put.

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