“The lone father is not a strong father. Fathering is a difficult and perilous journey and
is done well with the help of other men.”
–John L. Hart
I knew the exact moment my wife went into labor. Silence permeated the Uber, and for once, she didn’t have any suggestions to offer for improving myself as a human being. Having real issues to contend with, she was rather quiet.
Looking back five months later, I would not have been able to endure my nine-month sentence, emerge and have these beautiful Kodak moments with my wife, if not for my three closest friends. Like good friends should, they didn’t let me fall into the trap of antiquated social conventions and invest all my time, focus, and attention into my pregnant wife.
My friends were quick to point out that, firstly, today’s women are not only strong but indubitably brave, too, echoing the plethora of commercials and hashtag campaigns. Consequently, they advised me to reduce the effort I had been putting into anticipating my wife’s needs during pregnancy. I took this as an opportunity to focus on encouraging her, going so far as to mention (infrequently) that “working through labor pain is a disguised opportunity to show the patriarchy.” I even went so far as to suggest that changing careers during her maternity leave and entering STEM would be the ultimate show of bravery.
Seriously, pregnancy is the most challenging thing a woman can go through outside of choosing what to eat on a random Wednesday. It’s a well-kept secret that pregnancy transforms even the most woke social justice warrior into a blatant hypocrite. Every time my wife passed a mirror, it wasn’t long before she prayed aloud for her old skinny body back. “What about beauty at any size,” I asked? She had no time for that tired rhetoric outside of promoting her love of Lizzo, the empowering, body-positive, eight-nomination-juggernaut rolling into the Grammy’s (at the time of this composition).
Once a year, my closest friends and I’s schedule allows us to meet-up and momentarily talk freely without reprise from our respective families. On one such outing, about three months before my daughter was born. Slowly and without much fanfare, one friend shared the following words, which shepherded me through my nine-months incarceration. “Marc, if pregnancy is the most challenging thing a woman can do, living with a pregnant woman will be your most significant ordeal to date. What could be more trying than living with someone who wholeheartedly believes they are performing the hardest job on earth. In the realm of martyr complexes, the pregnant woman trope reigns supreme.”
The rest of the advice received that day wasn’t as esoteric. For example, on a more practical note, my friends were adamant that only a veteran anesthesiologist should do the epidural. They didn’t believe I had the maturity to stay faithful to and co-parent with a disabled partner if something went wrong.
Two months ago, while fawning over pictures of my baby, a female coworker told me that fathers are their daughter’s first heroes. All this before giving the amplest tightest congratulatory hug. At that moment, under the spell of Marc Jacobs’ Decadence, I knew that my ascent to the pantheon of great fathers wasn’t assured. However, I did indeed feel like a hero rushing back to my desk, thinking of baseball stats.
We walk at an increasing pace, careful not to bump into each other. Fifteen minutes prior, I had committed an unforgivable sin. I shared my unedited thoughts over dinner. Dinner had started like Hamlet with such a simple question: “You’re so quiet, what’s on your mind, Marc?”
In actuality, even your loved ones don’t care about the contents of your thoughts. Most people after spending considerable energy to quiet their internal dialogue hire a therapist to silence it forever. The refuse floating around your mind is meaningful only to someone currently not in agreement with your actions. For example, I heard this woman ask her boyfriend in the dairy aisle of my local market: “If you don’t know her why like her pictures on Instagram? Please tell me what was going through your head.”
My fiancee asking what was on my mind was a preventative measure meant to neutralize address any low-flying issues that might otherwise disturb a stellar meal. Conventional wisdom dictated that I suppress (by any means necessary) articulating my thoughts, until our unavoidable future couples therapy sessions. Nevertheless, I persisted in my rebuke of the girl at the next table.
Her inability to feel remorse for waterboarding nearby patrons with useless, supra-audible trip details directly correlates to having no qualms traveling on someone else’s dime. That preparatory school scholarship I received in 1995 aside from preparing me for the rigors of college, acclimated me to the sight of unbridled privilege. I can say both with confidence and without any personal interaction that this loquacious torturer despite co-starring in photographs with hordes of lobotomized animals her most-liked photo on Instagram is of a cross-eyed tiger as visibly debilitated as her personality. Zero. Zero is the total number of her female friends surprised to hear despite her parents funding the majority of her travels she proposed vacationing together early in the relationship?”
I’d guess about two to three weeks after firmly establishing a regular habit of post-coital pillow -talk, she will plant subtle hints in the fertile soil of her partner’s imagination. “Babe, you should see the sky laying down on the beaches of the Amalfi coast. Flights are particularly cheap if you know when to purchase.”
It behooves me to point out a distinction. In just the same way that the sun is the source of Superman’s power, compassion allows my fiancee to do the impossible. For instance, she becomes whatever demographic is the butt of a joke. I remember watching her identify so intensely with the struggles of the Eskimo people that she became one in her mind. There’s never been a more sensitive Eskimo from New Jersey. You would think that for people who manage to make a home in the harsh Arctic environment, a joke about eating a whales vagina wouldn’t hurt.
In my opinion, an unknowable Creator has endowed men and women with complementary abilities (would you expect otherwise for a sexually-dimorphic species). In place of my fiancee’s over-developed sense of compassion is my unwavering fealty to Logic. My success directly correlates with my ability to be logical and subsequently execute a derivative plan of action. If like me, you’ve accepted Logic as your guide and savior, you don’t confuse jokes for political statements. You also don’t equate a joke about an Eskimo’s eating a whale’s vagina with a callousness to the plight of the Inuit.
But where does that leave things? Firstly, my fiancee imagined I inadvertently called her a gold-digger since her parents financed a vacation or two. Then, she asked me why didn’t I look at the men’s profiles on the dating website as that might have informed my opinion. Next, reminding her that the sight of a Vienna Sausage going through a pink donut doesn’t stimulate me exacerbated the situation. Why she asked if the donut had sprinkles is anyone’s guess. I, however, began to rethink my decision to marry a woman who forgets my distinguished career in heterosexuality whenever we argue.
Thankfully, we never settled the debate: my fiancee doesn’t let her disbelief in the existence of gold-diggers stop her from identifying with them as a marginalized group. The constant clash of objectivism and subjectivism adds a palatable tension in our relationship. If it ever dissipates returning us to the inert bags of sentient protoplasm searching for conflict and reasonably priced chicken fingers, I’ll exit our relationship.
Weeks after the great debate, my fiancee is lecturing again. The most recent lecture centers on why I cannot use the word ‘tranny’ in my own house, after midnight Tues. I blame all the shiftless grifters currently looking to secure the Democratic Party nomination. My fiancee has forgotten that I’m not running for office. During the question segment of her lecture, she is quick to dismiss my question. ‘If in the privacy of my two-person dwelling, I say ‘tranny’ how mad is Kaitlyn Jenner? Soon she’ll be persuading me to support vehicular manslaughter to further women and trans cause.