This, Our Otherwise Neanderthal Masculine Life

As you read this, my wife and our youngest will have been in Oregon for nearly a week, visiting our oldest and our older daughter. It’s our sophomore daughter’s fall break, and she has been impatient to return. They flew up there last year, but my brief October bachelorhood was immediately scotched by one of those maladies of uncertain origin that at first engender a desire for death but, after three or four shaky days, leave the survivor in a bizarre malaise. I was barely able to shave off my beard; the remainder of that interlude, not surprisingly, I scarcely remember. My wife and daughter did not recognize me at the airport when I went to pick them up. They walked right past me. I do faintly recall watching some important baseball games–but I can’t remember the teams and, anyhow, I digress. We did put a paper out, chiefly attributable to Steve and Tony, as I was useless. I was also alone. Not so, this time: I have been marooned in this besieged house with our two other sons, aged 26 and 20. Except for the fact that I’m old now and creaky–and their father–it has been rather like journeying back to my college days, when I lived with housemates. But here’s a list of things, at least so far, that have not occurred.

First, though, let us agree to never underestimate the civilizing influence of women in this, our otherwise Neanderthal masculine life.

So far, no one has decided that a raccoon–dead on the roadside for days yet somehow miraculously still intact–would make for an excellent adventure in home taxidermy. No carcass, therefore, has been dragged by its tail into the living room, eviscerated, de-boned and un-sinewed, then tacked to dry fur-side down on a plywood board and left, the whole week, reeking on the floor there. It follows, then, that no pervasive stench–apart, that is, from such that three men naturally create–has enveloped the household in a foul, almost palpable cloud.

No dead mouse has been discovered improbably entombed in the mini skyline of precariously stacked (but well-encrusted) dishes on the kitchen counters. In fact, the dishes have not been neglected at all; they have been regularly washed, and the sink has remained cheerfully clear. So nobody has had to resort–in an heroic attempt, finally and all at once let’s say–to bathing while simultaneously washing what might have amounted to every dish, pot and pan in the house. This means that the upstairs shower bath drain has not been catastrophically clogged.

It has not been taken into anyone’s head that insects make for marvelous target practice with a BB gun, whether on a wall, the ceiling, or in flight. Gone unperfected, then, has been the art of deflection shooting. A fly-swatter has sufficed.

Similarly, no deer has been illegally shot across anyone’s fence line. No deer has been shot at all. So far as I know, they’re out of season. Anyhow, you can’t really shoot one with a BB gun–so nobody has skulked home expecting the police to appear any minute at the front door.

Speaking of the police, nobody has called them with any complaint against us whatsoever. This means, of course, that the music has not been loud enough.

But the college football gods have. It’s past mere capriciousness at this point; they have remained, I still contend, actively unkind. No juju practiced by mankind can placate them, but–as a finger in their eye, so to speak–no street sign has had hands laid upon it and been furiously uprooted to protest the gods’ injustice.

House justice, too, has gone uninvoked. There has been no call, say, to fill an old album cover with shaving cream, as opposed to gel, and–after having stealthily placed it open-ended against the bottom of a closed door–to then leap upon the small pressure-equalizing board that has carefully been put on top. Nobody’s entire bedroom, therefore, has been converted into a sloppy, October snow globe. No–we’ve been too sobersided a crowd to have gone in for that kind of idiocy.

No all-nighters fueled by drink have been pulled in the writing of any lengthy research paper, although I have–obviously–penned this missive. Moreover, booze in quantities sufficient to float a battleship have not been consumed, nor have any new cocktails been invented. No keg of beer has been in evidence; but a modicum of chardonnay has, indeed, been downed–in proper wine glasses, no less. Thus my home streak of never using a coaster has been protected.

Food has been irrelevant. No floor or toilet seat has been buttered. Bread has been. Top Ramen has remained banned, along with most canned goods, and no one has really cared what time dinner has been served, or even what it was. Just that it was. “Men,” women are fond of saying, “are dogs.”

Alas, no women have illuminated the premises with their pulchritude and wit. Indeed, no one of that persuasion–the female–has so much as alighted from her car to ask for directions, as they so often say they are wont to do. I have, then, given no strange woman directions; certainly, I have not this week persuaded a strange woman of anything. Now that I think of it, though–about women–maybe I always have.

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