Male Bonding and How It Triumphs Over Composting and Aged Periodicals

My oldest son (#1) and I walked back to our house from the bus stop. It was just the two of us for the weekend as my bride and #2 were out of town.

I had been looking forward to this weekend because there were probably only a few years left before #1 decided that the last thing he wanted to do was hang out with his dad. #1, in turn, was excited because in his mind no mom equalled excess amounts of video games. He was also quick to point out how quiet things were without #2 around. It was clear that he’d been spending some time thinking about how nice life would have been as an only child.

As we walked up the front sidewalk our dog, Wilson, bounced up and down in one of our front windows. The word excited didn’t do his mood justice.

“Hey,” I said, “why don’t you throw Wilson a tennis ball out front for a minute while I dump out your backpack?”

“Sure. And then we play video games?”

“Yes, and then we play video games. For a LITTLE while. There should be an old tennis ball in the playroom.”

#1 handed me his backpack and disappeared into the house.

I took the backpack to the kitchen and dumped its contents onto the counter. Several day’s worth of various tupperware containers holding random, half-eaten morsels of prior lunches greeted me. Due to muggy heat of Houston the older bits of what was previously food now sported beards of green mold. Shouldn’t all of this be removed and cleaned on a daily basis? Yes, but I’ll do worse before it’s over so let’s move on.

The petri dish that was #1’s backpack was a ready supply of fuel for the large tupperware container that my bride had designated as the composting collection bin. I lifted the lid of the container to dump in the moldy morsels and was greeted by a large cloud of what I presumed to be fruit flies. We didn’t seem to be growing any dirt, or vegetables, around here, but we were definitely doing our part to increase the fly population.

I pondered the oozing, moldy, fly-ridden mess in the compost container and made a management decision — dumping the contents, flies and all, into the regular trash can. It would be nice to have a kitchen free of flies and smells for the few days until my wife returned, and we’d have no trouble quickly brewing another batch of insect-laden goo upon her return. Part of the secret of our long marriage is that I notice everything, but my bride has almost no short-term memory. She wouldn’t notice the clean compost container any more than she’d realize that I’d recycled the three foot tall stack of magazines she’d collected near her nightstand under the premise that she’d soon read them. The compost bin, the magazine pile and our marriage would continue to blossom unfettered by my temporary acts.

I walked the trash bag to the can at the side of the garage and heard the sounds of #1 and Wilson playing in the front yard. Dumping the bag into the large can, I went out front to see how things were progressing.

Upon turning the corner I saw Wilson with a confused look on his face, which is his natural state. This time, however, I could empathize with his fuzzy brain.

Wilson stood in the middle of our yard, tennis ball wedged firmly in his mouth, surrounded by a sea of other tennis balls. When a ball on the ground caught his eye he dropped the one already in his mouth and snagged the new one. This process was repeated over and over whilst #1, his arms folded in confident triumph, stood in the driveway with a satisfied look on his face and four open canisters of tennis balls at his feet. The aluminum pull-off tops that had previously sealed in the new balls were sprinkled between the canisters.

“Um. Didn’t I say to get an old ball out of the playroom?”

“Yep. Couldn’t find any. But I did find all of these in the garage.”

I noticed several balls sitting along the curb across the street. “Four brand new cans huh?”


Wilson’s brain finally froze-up and he laid down, exhausted, amongst the previously new balls now covered in generous layers of grass, dirt and slobber. My attempt at explaining the issues with using $15 of new tennis balls to exercise a dog were largely ignored by #1, who pointed out that: A) the dog, as promised, had received his exercise and, B) wouldn’t this conversation be better ignored inside whilst he played video games?

We picked up the balls, drug the limp dog back inside, and I went upstairs to exact my revenge upon the helpless stack of dusty magazines.

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