What it Means to be a Man. Part 1

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“THERE’S A BUG! IT’S REALLY BIG!”

Yes, there is a bug. However, ‘Really Big’ is a relative terms: It’s about the size of my pinky fingernail. It’s clinging to the ceiling, or the wall, or the window frame. It has been discovered either by spouse or daughter.

And it’s my responsibility to do something about it. Invariably that means that I must destroy the creature. Typically, my weapon of choice is a tissue or a scrap of toilet paper poised between the pincers of my thumb and forefinger. If there’s no tissue or toilet paper available, I attack bareback.

This is one of those beetly bugs that appear around the house this time of year. They have a shell that resists just for a sec before giving way to a definitive little crunch, like that first bite of cereal.

Several times I’ve been implored to take the bug outside, a catch and release maneuver, but I’m not in that business. I tell myself that once an intruder has penetrated the perimeter, it’s war, baby. And crushing the bug is much easier and quicker than going for the capture.

Side note: I read a joke today. My wife said there was spider, but could I take it out instead of kill it? So I did. We went out for drinks. He’s a very nice spider. Works as a web designer.

But there’s no pleasure in this bug bashing. I wish I wasn’t called upon. I’d rather others do their own dirty work in this regard. I once tried encouraging that tactic: “You can handle a bug,” I said. The idea did not go over well. I did not suggest again.

Last night there was a bug. It came as an announcement from the other room. I asked: “Do you need me to deal with it?”

“Yes, I think so.”

It cost a paper towel.

This is what I do. What I must do. Is it because I’m a man? Is this part of being a man? The soldiering, dirty, violent part. The rescuing of the distressed part. I’m sure there are plenty of women who are effective and efficient bug killers; I just happen not to know any of them.

But I do like to be needed. I like that others can depend on me to do what must be done.

Then just this morning, daughter calls from the other room: “There’s a bug!” Her voice like a bugle signaling for the calvary. I was at my desk in the next room. I sighed under the weight of responsibility. I began to get up. But then I heard: “Wait, I think I got it!” Then: “I did. I got it!”

I looked in. Daughter was holding the tissue clenched between her fingers. She’d learned from the master. I was proud, and a little sad.

By David Klein

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.

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