I was in the back storage shed looking for an old owners manual to my mower, when I found my snorkel gear. It had been packed away with some clothes that were to be donated to charity. (@#$%*! How come my stuff is the only stuff that gets thrown out or donated to charity?) I decided to see if the snorkel gear still fit. (You’re asking yourself, “Why?” I know, well- why not? I mean, it doesn’t have to make sense!) My head hadn’t grown, so the dive mask slipped on fairly easily, but the fins where a bit tight and the snorkel was filled with cobwebs and dust. Just about the time I had the whole outfit on, complete with the obligatory weight-belt, I heard the front door bell ring.
I only managed to get one fin off, (@#$%*!) before it rang again and again, insistently, six or eight more times. I had on the dive mask with snorkel, sagging weight-belt, one large swim fin, and one pant leg rolled up as I hobbled, ker-flap, ker-flap, ker-flap, to the door. It was Nancy, and little Timmy, the missionary.
“How come,” Nancy began derisively, as she narrowed her eyes at me, “whenever I come over here, you’re always dressed up like an idiot?”
In the big book of the DHMF, (Doghouse Manifesto) in the biological chapters, under the title: MEN- PIGS & REGRESSIVE EVOLUTION- the rule states, “All innocence aside, always expect her to walk in on and surprise you, only in the most compromising, embarrassing and completely unexplainable moments.”
“Never mind all that!” She interrupted me. “Little Timmy has something to tell you.”
Little Timmy, the missionary, was terrified.
“Uhm, uhh…” he stammered.
Nancy gave him shove forward.
“Go on!” She barked. “Tell him!”
Little Timmy looked like he was about to pass out.
“Uhm, uhh…” he stammered, some more.
Nancy huffed in impatient frustration.
“Timmy broke your garage window!” She exclaimed.
Just about that time I tried to spit out my snorkel, but breathed instead, and caught a lungful of dust and cobwebs,
“He (*cough- hack- gurgle*) broke (*snurt- snuffle- snuff*) my (*gag- choke- spit*) what?!” I managed, as my slobber soaked snorkel fell out of my mouth.
Nancy put her hands on her hips, and regarded me suspiciously.
“Should we come back after your stroke?”
I cleared my throat aggressively. “Nancy…”
Nancy shoved poor little terrified Timmy at me.
“He broke the side window on your garage. I want YOU,” she emphasized, “to punish him.”
I took off my dive mask. “You want me to do what?!” I asked her.
Nancy turned on her heels and stomped away.
“But, don’t hit him.” She called over her shoulder as she disappeared.
Little Timmy, the missionary stood there on my stoop, trembling. His face was red. His upper lip was quavering. His little chest was heaving in an out. Little Timmy was about to have a heart attack, but began to cry instead.
“You’re gonna hit me!” He sniveled. “Wwwaaaahhh!”
I looked nervously up and down the street.
“Timmy…” I began.
Timmy screwed his purpled face up tighter than a sewing machine bobbin, took a deep breath and continued…
“WWWAAAHHH” He wailed. “YOU’RE GONNA HIT ME!”
“T- Timmy…” I stammered nervously.
“WWWAAAHHH!” He shrieked. “PLEASE, DON’T HIT ME!”
I grabbed him by the collar and hustled him inside the house and closed the door.
“WWWIIIEEE-AAAHHH!!” A sound, like an ice pick in my ear drum, spilled out of him like an air raid siren winding up to announce sure and certain death, doom and destruction at high noon on a bomb-testing range.
I knelt down and took him gently by both shoulders.
“Geeze, Timmy… will you relax?! You’re gonna get me arrested! Good grief; I’m not going to hit you. There’s no ‘hitting’, okay?”
He snuck a doubtful look at me.
“But mommy said…” he sniffled.
I ushered him into the kitchen.
“Yeah, yeah- I know what your ‘mommy said’, but she’s not here, and she doesn’t know everything anyway…”
I grabbed up a clean dishcloth, wetted it with cold water and began to dab his face and neck.
“Mommy says, you’re an idiot- are you gonna hit me?” He asked.
I ran some more cool water onto the cloth.
“Will you stop with the ‘hitting?’” I asked. “Real men don’t ‘hit.’ And I am not an idiot- only your mommy thinks so- or, well… anyway, just take my word for it; I am not going to hit you.”
Ten minutes, a few more doubtful tears, and two cold washcloths later, we stood in the garage surveying the damage.
“Yup…” I sighed. “It’s broken.”
“Yup.” Timmy affirmed. “I’m sorry Grandpa.” He added.
I regarded Timmy sternly for a moment.
“Did you break my window on purpose, or by accident?” I asked him.
“I didn’t mean to…” he said quietly.
“Okay,” I replied, “what did you learn?”
He looked questioningly up at me.
“Not to play ball by the house?”
I smiled at him.
“That’s right. Okay,” I said as I rubbed my hands together…
Timmy was already in a dead run for the door.
“Thanks, Grandpa!” He shouted back.
“Whoa- Timmy; where are you going?”
Timmy slid to a stop.
“Home?” He replied hopefully.
“Oh, no you’re not.” I stated. “The rules are, when a man makes a mistake, he apologizes and then, he makes it right. You have to make this right. Do you have any money?
Timmy thought for a moment.
“So… we can’t buy a window, can we?
“Do you know how to fix a broken window?” I asked him?
Timmy shook his head.
“Well, I do, so, I’m going to teach you. That’s rule number two- ‘A man always learns from his mistakes.’”
Rule 26, in chapter 32: REAL MEN REALLY DO EXIST- states, “A real man is never too busy to teach a child something, especially if that child is a confused and frightened little boy.” For more on this subject, refer to the indices, under: PRISON- DANGEROUS ANGRY MEN WHO WERE ONCE CONFUSED & FRIGHTENED LITTLE BOYS.
Timmy walked back over to me, perused the shards of broken glass, put his hands on his hips and asked,
“What do we do first?”
Good. I had his attention, and maybe if I was lucky, his imagination.
“First, we need to get you a pair of safety glasses, some leather gloves, a broom, and a dust pan. Then, we need to take some measurements, and go to the hardware store and have a piece of glass cut…” I began.
Several hours later, Timmy and I stood in front of the new window, surveying our handiwork.
I drew in a breath, and sighed with satisfaction, as I crossed my arms on my chest. Timmy did the same.
“Yup. Looks pretty good.” I said.
“Yup.” Timmy repeated. “Looks pretty good.”
“You did a fine job.” I told him matter-of-factly.
He smiled up at me.
“I think we deserve a rootbeer, Timmy.” I stated.
“Is that a ‘real man’ rule?” He asked.
“Yup.” I told him as I retrieved two cans from the garage fridge. “When you do a good job, always reward yourself.” I opened his can and gave it to him.
He took a long drink. I took a long drink. We both burped. Timmy giggled.
“Are there lots of rules to being a real man?” He asked me.
“Yup.” I said. “But the most important ones are;
1) Real men don’t ‘hit’- especially women and children.
2) Real men keep their promises.
3) And real men always learn something from their mistakes.”
I pulled up the lawn recliner and sat down. Timmy crawled up on my lap with his rootbeer.
“Are there lots more rules to being a real man?” He asked me thoughtfully.
“Hundreds.” I sighed. “Maybe thousands…”
Timmy sighed too.
“How will I learn them all?” He asked me earnestly.
I reached over and grabbed the stereo remote from the worktable, and clicked the receiver on.
“By making lots and lots of mistakes.” I told him.
Timmy cocked his head sideways as the music filled the semi-lighted confines of the cool garage.
“Are there rules for music, too?”
I put my arms up over my head, leaned back and closed my eyes. Timmy leaned into me, put his arms up and closed his eyes.
“Yeah,” I mumbled, “naptime music should always be Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller, or Frankie Carle.”
About a half an hour later, I heard my wife let Nancy in the front door, but I pretended to be asleep. Why ruin a good nap? Besides, Timmy was out like a light on my chest.
Just about the time they both quietly poked their heads through the kitchen door into the garage to find us both fast asleep, the 8-track clicked over, and Frank began to sing,
“Call me irresponsible- call me unreliable- call me undependable too…”
* sigh *