Is Being a Dad Turning Me Straight?

The Next Family

By Brent Almondbrent

 

Once again I’m hauling my kid to the mall to burn off energy (and preserve my sanity) in that germ-infested swarm known as the Play Area. As soon as we step off the bottom step to the mall’s lower level, JJ immediately charges in the direction of the indoor plastic playground. Out of instinct—and fear of him running headfirst into an adult crotch—I start the awkward walk-jog of an exhausted, out-of-shape dad in hopes of snatching him from the jaws of danger or a lawsuit. I haven’t shaved or bathed (it’s Sunday – when cleanliness is far from godliness), and I’m wearing a slight variation of the clothes I’d worn the previous day. I’m blending in quite nicely with the other beleaguered parents, walk-jogging through the mall like suburban zombies.

Suddenly, from the American Eagle Outfitters, emerge a couple of friends from the gay men’s chorus I sing with. And it’s not just any couple of friends, but the couple who’d been voted “Cutest Couple” at our annual end of year party. Nice guys, full of energy and sunshine and OH SO VERY YOUNG.

Of course they had showered and shaved and are wearing something simple yet smart and put together. I stop for a brief bit of small talk, curious as to why they are in my mall, so far from the city and all things young, cute, and gay.

Turns out they are on their way to a play at a local theater, and had run in to get some sandals for a weekend trip to South Beach. I’ve been holding JJ’s hand during this conversation, but soon he wriggles his clammy little paw out of mine and continues his mad dash for the play area. I quickly apologize, bid my friends a good trip, and take off after my kid.

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This exchange, while brief and uneventful, was significant in that it brought together two different worlds, bridged my past and my present, and illuminated the stark contrast between these young, gay lads and myself. We share a gender, an orientation, a chorus and a community, but our lives couldn’t be more different. They were on their way to the see a Broadway musical, dressing (and smelling) nice, shopping for their mid-winter, tropical vacation. I was in sweats chasing a screaming preschooler through a mall. As I pondered this event further, I wondered to myself in horror: Was being a dad turning me straight?
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THE EVIDENCE:

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EXHIBIT A:
 I no longer go to my gossipy, orgasmic shampoo-giving stylist. I now get my hair cut by an old, Greek barber within walking distance of my house. In contrast to the non-stop chatter of a salon, I think my barber said “have a good afternoon” to me once. And the few seconds of shave cream on the back of my neck before he uses the straight razor is pleasantly warm, but hardly orgasmic.
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shirts
EXHIBIT B:
 On the weekends (and most weekdays) I wear the same 3 or 4 grey t-shirts, a black hoodie and sneakers.
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cap
EXHIBIT C: Sometimes I leave the house in a baseball cap—not as a fashion statement, but because I have bedhead.
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laundry
EXHIBIT D:
 I let the house get messy. Not Hoarders-level messy, but my dreams of being featured in Southern Living have long since been abandoned.
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potty
EXHIBIT E:
 There’s been a drastic rise in the number of poop jokes, poop discussions, poop-related purchases and other scatological shit scattered throughout my day.
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EXHIBIT F: I also have a lot of conversations about boogers and chicken butts.
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trex
EXHIBIT G: I’m learning way more about dinosaurs than I ever wanted to know in 10 million trillion years.
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beltshoes
EXHIBIT H:
 Sometimes I leave the house wearing a black belt with brown shoes.
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EXHIBIT I: I stopped wearing a watch. I don’t have an expensive collection—but as one of the few allowable man-ccessories, I took pride in the several cool timepieces I had. I started going watchless when feeding JJ as an infant, so as not to scratch him or get them barfed on. Now I don’t wear them because none of them go with a grey t-shirt and black hoodie.
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cologne
EXHIBIT J:
 I stopped wearing cologne. I used to wear it almost every day, even if I was just going to be working from home. A guy likes to smell special, even for himself. Now it just seems to be a waste, as it’s spent the last few years competing with the aromas of formula, puke, Desitin, syrup, mac & cheese, pee and poop.
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EXHIBIT K: I hang out in the mall on weekends.
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THE CONCLUSION:

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While the evidence certainly points to my reorientation, now that I’ve had some time to sit with this list, ponder my life and live my “straight” existence a little longer, I realize that I haven’t switched teams after all. I’ve just become a dad.

So why does it have to be gay versus straight? That’s the thing – it doesn’t. All parents of every orientation and family makeup need to stick together through the simultaneous battles being waged against us by A) the ravages of time and B) the diabolical minds of our children.

We need to pool our resources, share each others’ burdens and learn from one another’s experiences. Alert a fellow parent when it’s time to bathe, change clothes or switch out that black belt for a brown one. Give each other a spritz of cologne to mask the fog of baby farts. Let your neighbor know if you see them leaving the house stained with puke or peanut butter.

As long as we have each others’ backs, we can make it through parenthood — if not in style, then at least not covered in shit.

 

Article brought to you by Designer Daddy

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