Having grown up with sisters, I’m not as Neanderthal as some when it comes to understanding women. I still know nothing but have managed to maintain the peace.
While possessing at least the potential for sensitivity, I’m still a regular guy. My definition of a regular guy is a guy who spends little time considering appearance or on self-maintenance.
For context, I get my hair cut at a barber with the same-sized clippers every three weeks. I don’t own a hairbrush (insert balding jokes here). I have one pair of “work shoes.”
The closet has shirts of white, black, blue and dark green for when I’m feeling really daring. There is a bold assortment of khaki and gray pants. Stripes and patterns are as rare as albino tigers.
In the event of an asteroid ending all life in northern Illinois, anthropologists examining the closet contents might conclude that an Amish man who fought a lifelong battle against going up a waist size resided here.
The morning grooming and dressing ritual takes less than 15 minutes, and clothes are selected by a cursory examination of what appears to be least wrinkled. That’s it. No emotional investment whatsoever.
It’s a good thing that ritual is brief and my closet spartan, because the Lord blessed me with a daughter – a beautiful, intelligent, fearless, independent and obstinate daughter.
And anyone who’s dressed a young girl for school in the morning knows it cannot be accomplished in this dispassionate manner. Forget everything you thought you knew about pulling a sweater over your head.
There will be shrieks, tantrums, rejection, panic and moments of pure terror. Clearly, this is not a mere personal maintenance task.
All the elements of a classic novel or a Hitchcock thriller are represented – denouement when the last shoelace is tied. Think of the opening scene in “The Hurt Locker,” except I don’t take off the blast helmet until she’s buckled into her car seat.
There’s no cheery musical number at the end. No happily ever after. More like the oddly calming peace of napalm eviscerating the treeline in Vietnam – “Apocalypse Again: Tomorrow Morning.”
The shirt she happily picked out on her own 10 minutes into battle just last week is now a vile garment from the pit of hell. Dads just lack the discernment to see the obvious transformation, and the oafish failure to detect it is interpreted as nothing short of betrayal.
After mundanely griping about this reality on Facebook as millions do about routine matters we believe are unique to us, I found that this ritual is universal. And while I always believed my siblings and I were abruptly transferred to Catholic schools to tame my behavior, I now suspect the appeal of uniforms for my sisters was the real motivation.
When angry sources and/or hostile readers come at me on a typical weekday, they should know there’s a chance that I dressed a 5-year-old girl for preschool that morning.
What else you got?
• Kevin Lyons is news editor of the Northwest Herald. Reach him at 815-526-4505 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinLyonsNWH.