She looked at me with tears in her eyes and in a soft voice asked me what we were going to do. I kissed her and said that we weren’t going to do anything because there was no reason to be upset.
Flames shot out of her nostrils and lightning burst from her fingertips. I can’t tell you whether I got out of bed on my own or if I was thrown but I do know for certain that I was standing across the room when I told her to take a deep breath and relax.
“Jack, the fucking condom broke! Are you stupid! I don’t want to be pregnant now!’
“I don’t want to be pregnant now” echoed in my head and I wondered if I was going to become a statistic. It was the summer before my sophomore year of college and I was having a blast. My girlfriend and I were working at a sleepaway camp as were most of my closest friends. Each night after the campers went to bed we would all hang out and then my girlfriend and I would enjoy some time alone.
There was plenty of food, plenty of time with friends and plenty of sex. I thought that it was great and prayed that the summer would never end.
“I don’t see a reason to worry about something that might not happen. How long do we have to wait until you get your period again?”
Two or three weeks later she gave me a huge hug and told me that she her aunt had come to visit and we started breathing again.
Memories like that make for interesting moments now. I love being a father and am forever blessed but I am so very grateful that I don’t have a twenty-five year old son/daughter now. I wasn’t ready then and even though I would have done my best I know that I am a better father now than I could have been then.
I am not a perfect person or a perfect father but at forty something I have had life experiences that make me far more grounded than I was at 19. It is easy to say that and easy to remember how angry that 19 year-old kid would have been if someone had suggested he couldn’t do it. As my grandfather, may he rest in peace, used to say, “you can’t screw an old head on young shoulders.”
Last night the children watched President Obama give his State of The Union. I provided color commentary while the president spoke and mentioned how the things that happen now could impact them later. I told the kids that I am angry with our government and angry with much of the country.
I told them I am angry because I don’t think that our government is working hard enough for us. I told them that too many people waste time and energy trying to prove that Democrats/Republicans are bad and not enough time trying to fix the problems that exist. I told them that too many people slept through history/civics and as a result don’t understand how the system works.
The kids asked me what I wanted and I said, “action.” I want people to shut up and work on finding real solutions to the problems we hear them cry about. My son told me that I say the same thing about him and his sister. He is right. I tell them both that I don’t care who started the fight because I am going to end it. That is what I would do here if I could.
I told them that when we find a problem we don’t just cry, we take action.
“Did you buy new condoms?”
“Why is it my responsibility to buy them? Why don’t you just go on the pill?”
She gave me the look that I had received the day of the broken condom and told me that if I expected to enjoy the same privileges I better go out and buy new condoms. I grabbed the car keys and we headed over to the drug store.
There was an older couple standing just ahead of us in line. The woman stared at the box of condoms and then looked at our hands. When she saw our ringless fingers she made a face. I stared back at her and she told her husband that they should “pray for him.”
We paid for our purchase and walked out to the car. As we passed by I heard them say that President Reagan needed to do something but what I didn’t hear what it was they wanted him to do.
I hadn’t thought about that moment in years and might not have ever done so again but last night I swear that I saw that couple standing among the crowd. Doesn’t really matter if it was them but I would have liked to have asked them if they did pray that night and if so, what did they pray for.