Pt. 2 Macho Macho Men
I like to think of myself as someone who is “there for you.” Someone who’s there when you need a laugh, when you need a night out, when you need someone to get even more pissed off than you are, someone who’ll stand up for you… Basically I like to think you can lean on me. But if you really want to lean on me, I mean, if you really need a shoulder to cry on, you’d better try your luck somewhere else. There’s just something about tears that makes me squirm, makes me laugh, or makes me run for the hills. So when I met Rob, I deemed him perfect. I voted him Least Likely to Cry in the first five minutes of our acquaintance. And what I didn’t consider, was what would happen if shit went down. I didn’t consider it because when I saw a spider he killed it without flinching. I didn’t consider it because he helped me move, and lifted loads of shit while barely breaking a sweat. I didn’t consider it because he could tell me everything about my car and exactly what was inevitably, wrong with it. I didn’t consider it because I turned this boy, this young man, into a macho idol, and I worshipped him.
The first time I saw a grown man cry was at my eighth grade graduation. I was whatever the equivalent to valedictorian is in middle school and so I had to give a speech. I went to a very small school, the largest my class ever grew to be was 28 students. Everyone knew everyone and on top of that my father was the music teacher. I spent more time at school than any child should, arriving an hour early every morning and leaving hours after the final bell rang. This meant, of course that my principle was a surrogate father, the lady at the front desk was a sweet aunt, and my English teacher was a strict and over-involved ‘grammatician.’ I wrote my speech about every “unique” experience I would remember from the past nine years of my very young life. The first thing I mentioned was the insanely early morning drives into school. Starting my coffee addiction off early, I’d climb into the car, groggy as hell, either uncomfortably cold or far too hot, just to be greeted by the grating tune of some screeching country ‘singer’ or the annoyingly dulcet tones of bored anchormen reporting the even more boring weather or latest gunshot victim. He would always get so angry when I instinctually and rebelliously flipped to a different station. Every single morning would start out with the Next Great War of the Radio Dial as he immediately changed the channel back and mayhem ensued. I talked about the hours I would spend waiting for him to leave at the end of the day, and how much I would miss the “day in” and “day out” of my dad always being there. How I would miss skipping Spanish class with my select few friends to hide out banging on his piano or drawing pictures on his whiteboard. I was Daddy’s girl in the most obvious ways and everyone knew it. He was my hero last year but this year he was one of my best friends. And I looked into the audience at my grandmother-like Computer teacher, fanning her face, my Science teacher, a.k.a. the weird, fun uncle wiping his eyes, and my father, tears streaming down his face, my mother with her arm around him.
I quickly looked away, but it was too late. My skin felt too tight, like I was being blown up, inflated, filled with something hot and itchy, my skin stretching to hold the unwanted substance. My fingers grew moist and icy cold, shaking as I tried to turn the page. Every muscle tensed, knees locked and feet planted firmly in my sister’s too big high heels, I held my ground, my discomfort turning into a firm determination to ignore my weeping father, finish the speech and get a few laughs out of the audience. Finished, I sat on a chair behind the podium but remained on the stage for the rest of the ceremony, which seemed to take years, spending my time avoiding eye contact with anyone in the audience. After the ceremony finally ended we all walked into the crowd to greet our family and friends. I found my father quickly but I couldn’t look into his wet, reddened eyes. And the coldhearted bitch in me poisoned my veins with resentment. I hugged him because he hugged me, one armed and from the side, trying not to cringe with a smile barely plastered to my face and aching cheeks.