My wife and I were floating in the pool’s shallow end having a deep discussion about our little sliver of the universe. We had both gotten very overheated in the blazing Texas summer sun attacking the bricks next to our front door with a hand drill and a small pile of now broken or worn-down masonry bits.
My wife was hoping some attractive easy to read house numbers might not only add to our curb appeal (as they say on those addictive HGTV shows) but also assist the delivery people who keep leaving our packages at random neighbor’s houses. Unfortunately, as every homeowner knows, no project ever goes as smooth as planned, under the estimated budget or as quick as expected. We are also realists and sadly know when everything is finally complete, our deliveries will still likely end up at the wrong doorstep.
Hours into the ‘great number hanging project of 2017’ but long after we realized we would need more bits and possibly another drill, the heavier variations of the ‘should we really have done this’ questions started creeping into our conversations? We were still less than halfway through the project when we took out little pool break. I said “it sounds so trite but its yet another case of if I knew then what I knew now.” Bobbing up and down in the cool water, my wife and I analyzed that line. She said “the line might be trite but there is a reason everybody says it”.
I leaned my head backwards ears into the water and closed my eyes to the bright sun. My brain took me back to when I was a clueless kid (versus now when I am a slightly less clueless adult). If I knew then what I know now. I was so dense then, I thought euthanasia was about Chinese teens and misogynistic had to do with giving a good back massage. OK, bad jokes but based on reality.
‘Euthanasia’ was not on one of those spelling lists I had such a hard time with. I can only imagine my Mom’s mnemonic device for that one. I first learned the root of that word when we had to put our beloved family dog down. That’s when I first really learned about death and appreciating life. I’m still no expert but that ‘if I knew then’ line sure rings true. I did not realize until I was much older how good a job my folks did shielding me from the harsh pain of the real world. It was not an insanely idealistic childhood, but I would not trade it. If I knew then how special those days were, how precious the people I grew up around were and how in a flash someone you love can disappear. Now-a-days the conversations about pulling the plug seem to pop up way more than I would like.
Misogynistic is a little tougher one. Being more hands on raised by my Mom than Dad in a very open nonprejudicial house (does my Dad calling every waitress he has had since 1945 ‘Girlie’ count?), I always have seen woman as equals to men and certainly have never hated women. But I have always wondered about my behavior with the first girl that ever let me get to second base. I was oblivious. After English class she invited me to hang out that evening while she was at a babysitting gig. At that point when it came to girls, I was still afraid of my own shadow (still am a little bit). That night she was the one that made the first move to kiss and she is the one that guided my hand.
I walked home on from that date (I did not drive yet, not that I recommend driving home on air… aside from what is inside the tires) feeling the same elation as if I had just climbed Everest, won the Superbowl or solved the world hunger. Boob touching is a big deal for a young man. We know what legs and a butt feel like, we have those, but those female mammalian protuberances are thing of many, many hours of imagination. Many hours.
The next day after the one class we had together she gave me a stuffed frog with the pre-named tag Frumpy. I did nothing. We went out once or twice more during the next few days and that was it. We never really went beyond the occasional hallway hello after that. Those very early teen years are pretty messy for most kids but I still wonder all these years later was I the user or the use-ee? Did I satisfy a need or bruise an ego leaving a very early relationship scar.
Back in the single digit school grades, I did not yet understand the differences between boys and girls perceptions. I still don’t really but at least now I know there is one. Maybe it is a stretch to call young insulated Dan misogynistic; I never really hated girls. Well maybe those two tall intimidating much farther developed megga- rude New Yorky girls in my Queens seventh grade class that mercilessly picked on my naivete about the world. OK, I hated them.
I do regret my behavior in some of of those early relationships. I did not understand myself much less the needs of others. I still make mistakes. I guess in most everything, the trick is understanding, learning and not repeating.
I pulled my head forwards out of the pool water and squinted towards my wife. “You are so right, If I knew then…”