My wife and three teenaged daughters have been both a blessing and source for introspection over the years. The estrogen in my house is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Our upstairs bathroom is like a weird scientist’s laboratory, featuring bottles of lotions and potions in every shape and color. Pipe in some Oingo Boingo music and I’d feel like I’m in some cheesy Eighties comedy. On the plus side, marriage has smoothed off my rough edges. My communicative ability has moved from a series of low grunts and high-pitched yelps to noun and verb construction. Neutered and sensitized, I no longer shovel food into my pie hole squatting in the corner of the dining room with a manic Renfieldesque laugh, nor do I snarl and growl like a ravenous canine when Jessika and I reach for that last slab of chicken. Now I use something called an “eating utensil”—well la dee da—and read Dr. Phil diet books. However, the dinner table conversation is a cacophonous barrage of verbiage and I’m required to hold two, if not three, conversations simultaneously. I long to discuss Bret Favre or war or Mel Gibson movies, but instead I’m subjected to a series of unfinished sentences about the latest sale at Old Navy and gossip regarding the soccer coach’s boyfriend’s sister’s haughty attitude
I kid you not, whenever I make my way through the garage and into the entry hall I stumble over more shoes than Imelda Marcos ever dreamed of. When I go to the mailbox, I have to sift through Mademoiselle, Teen Vogue, The Oprah Magazine, and Victoria Secret catalogues just to fetch my frickin’ remittance check. Seriously, I feel outnumbered, the only man in the house, unless the posters of a half-naked Jacob Black or wanton-eyed Edward Cullen count.
I’m one of civilization’s discontents, that is to say a male, a domesticated animal still smarting over changes that occurred 10,000 years ago and yearning for the nomadic life; for this reason I find myself mindlessly driving around town, heeding the atavistic calling within, on the trail of Mammoths and wildebeests but finding Starbucks instead. Yes, I’m a hunter-gatherer by genetic disposition, but nowadays I’m reduced to hunting for a pair of socks in the laundry basket and gathering any traces of my lost manhood. You know it’s bad when you’re on a guy canoe trip in the wilderness and you’ve brought raspberry-scented hand sanitizer and Moonlight Escape body spray. My male cats at least keep me grounded, though they’re neutered too.