Voice of UnreasonPosted by Fred
Male ego is the little voice inside a big head that keeps men from reading directions and prevents boys from backing down at the sound of a double-dog-dare. Don’t get me wrong, women have egos too but their expression can be a bit more harsh … something between nails on a chalkboard and a brush-back fastball headed straight for your forehead. Usually, a girl’s fur really has to be stroked against the grain before her back arches, whereas a guy can achieve a full wrestler’s bridge merely by making eye contact. In a man’s world almost anything qualifies as a challenge.
My first encounter with the voice came when I was about five, although I had no idea what it was at the time and years passed before I finally figured it out. There were three of us that usually palled around together. Cal’s family had just gotten the first television on the block, but he was allowed only one guest each afternoon to watch The Four O’clock Western. That meant he had to find some way to choose between Duggie and me. Before I describe his innovative solution I should point out that, to this day, Doug’s ego is pretty well under control … mine is not and never has been.
Cal decided that whoever could draw a circle the fastest in his driveway would be the one to watch Bob Steele, Lash LaRue or Hoot Gibson gallop his way across the American West and into the hearts of kids everywhere! Doug won any time he wanted by simply drawing a very small circle in the gravel. I, on the other hand, always drew the largest circle my little arm could manage, thus demonstrating my superior artistic ability while my friend got to go inside and watch the western. I really liked Bob Steele, too … but I couldn’t figure out why his hat never fell off.
Now, somewhat older than five and many little voices later, I was reminded of that early mindset during one of those wind-whipped, horizontal rain storms we sometimes get in the Northeast. Not that I had any business being in a shopping center parking lot during a tsunami in the first place but I told myself, “You can do this.” Raincoat? I didn’t need no stinking raincoat! You see, the strings of a guy’s ego can be plucked by any number of different fingers … including his own.
I opened the car door and, immediately, the wind took my umbrella. Oh, I still had the handle but the cloth part went away. Next, my official Indiana Jones fedora followed in Frisbee-like fashion … heading for the largest puddle in the parking lot. Before I could move, the voice said, “Now don’t be one of those old coots you see running after his hat in the cartoons.” ”Okay,” I said, suddenly remembering the kid drawing circles in the driveway. What to do? The hat made a perfect three-point landing in the middle of the puddle, as I leaned into the tempest and began walking casually toward my wayward chapeaux. Driving rain stung my face, swirling wind stole my breath … but I was cool.
The fedora proved to be a worthy craft and skimmed toward the puddle’s edge, as if driven by a tiny motor. But as I arrived within a few feet it suddenly stood upright, on edge, and began rolling doubletime toward the next puddle! I was cool … soaked and possessed but cool. I continued simply walking at a normal pace as my bouyant felt quarry launched itself into yet a second puddle, pausing only long enough to beckon me to run. But the vision of a soggy old man with remnants of white hair flapping on the breeze and the laughter of unseen small children helped hold me to my pace.
This pattern continued until the fourth puddle when, during a merciful lull in the gale, my saturated headgear ran aground. It could sail no more. I now took an upwind position to prevent any further attempt at escape and gracefully retrieved the soggy brown mass, as another torrent of rain lashed my naked scalp. The hat smelled like wet dog. Its weight felt more like pounds than ounces. The wind buffeted my face … and the car was now way-y-y over there! What to do?
The voice told me. I thought for a moment about Bob Steele, put the hat on my head, and turned toward the shops as if nothing had happened. I was wet but I was cool. Male ego is a beautiful thing!
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