July 27th, 2016



Dad wanted to play catch with the baseball.  Well, he wanted me to play catch, and he was there to teach me how.  I was 8 years old. We were in the backyard of our house, on the grass, past the flagstones under the crabapple tree and in the bright sunshine, so it must have been a weekend day as Dad was there and not at his office downtown.

We’d stand about ten feet apart.  He’d tossed the ball to me.  I’d squint, turn my head and hold my my mitt up in front of my face.  I didn’t want the ball to hit my head!  Dad would sigh.

“Okay, pick up the ball and throw it to me.”

I’d pick up the ball and throw it.  At least I didn’t throw like a girl.  He’d have quit right then if I did.  So, he tried again: he tossed the ball to me; I ducked and held up my glove to keep the ball from hitting me in the head.

This went on for a while, until Dad finally gave up.  I knew he was disappointed in me, as usual.  But he didn’t have the patience to keep at it until I got over my fear.  Dad was terrified of my turning out to be a sissy — that is, of growing up to be  homosexual.  He really was afraid of that.

When I was just entering puberty, I finally started to grow a few hairs in my armpits.

Mom: “Why don’t you try shaving them?”

I was aghast!  “No, I want them to get hairy!”

“I mean, if you shave them, it’ll grow back thicker and darker.”

She had me convinced, so I did shave my armpits.

Dad, when he found out, was furious, in his own Dad-like way: seething but keeping everything inside, although it was obvious to everyone he was angry, except you never knew about just what –but this time I felt his anger, and I knew what had caused it.

But Mom was right: the hair quickly grew back, but much thicker and darker.

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