Desperate Dan and why men don’t stay

Builder by Pictr73 via Flickr
Builder by Pictr73 via Flickr

A sad thing has happened: my friend Dan has become a homeowner, a husband and a dad. It’s sad because he’s finding it all really hard. “I love them,” he tells me. “But I’m not loving it.” He means life. He’s not loving life. More specifically, the responsibility and the sacrifice of freedom. In fact he’s trying to escape the more difficult elements, like millions of men who have gone before him. I visited one weekend to help him build a wall in his garden. There was tension in the house between Dan and his wife, who is never happy with his performance and is always questioning how he does things. They were bickering and it was verging on nasty.

One morning we were having breakfast and Dan’s wife was quietly attacking him for not yet having bought all the materials for the wall. “I’ll just have to go to Homebase again later for the extra bricks,” he said. “You should have had it all ready so you could just build it all today,” she said, pushing food into the baby’s mouth. Dan scooped up the last of his eggs and stood up, mumbling something under his breath as he ditched his plate in the sink. “Don’t call me an idiot,” she said. The toddler ran around bashing a plastic spoon against the cupboards. Dan pulled on his shoes and walked out to face the job. I followed awkwardly to help. Continue reading

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Cruise control, or how to be a boring little man

Every so often Hollywood brings out a sci-fi film that looks like it’s sponsored by Apple Inc. The sets and costumes and spaceships and even the people look so smooth and perfect that we’re led to believe this is what the future will be like. Oblivion is one such film, although it turns the slickness on its head because the story takes up on Earth after humans have had to leave due to an alien invasion. We fought the aliens off and won but our home planet was left largely uninhabitable by the fallout of war. Tom Cruise’s character and his wife have valiantly stayed behind to take care of the planet and the robots that are trying to bring it back to life until the day comes when humanity can return. So the smooth slick white technology zips around a backdrop of destruction and decay.

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