"No One Blows Their Nose with a Sock: A father-son bonding experience"
By: Mihkel Teemant
(Dedicated to my brother. Even though after reading this he will probably be pissed. [This story is not true. All the characters are a work of fiction with one name taken from a certain sibling because the author finds the fact that everyone will be wondering if this actually happened to the brother is hilarious.] Sorry.)
Matthew ran down the stairs and jumped over the landing. His fingers almost missed the railing as he swung himself around the corner to dash across the living room and out the back door without being seen. As he let go of the railing Matthew heard a low voice on the other side of the sofa.
“Matthew, can I see you for a second?”
Matthew’s sneakers squeaked against the hardwood floor as he looked toward the sofa to make out the balding grey head poking just over the chairs leather backing. “Yeah Dad,” Matthew said. Matthew hung his head as he slowly walked around the sofa.
Dad watched as Matthew stepped forward, then began to compose himself to try looking as wise and fatherly as possible. Dad muted the football game on the television and said as calmly as he could “Sit down please.”
Matthew sat on the love seat across from Dad.
“Today… Well, today was…”
“Do we have to talk about it now?”
“Well, we have to talk about it sometime.”
“No. We don’t have to.”
“I think we do,” Dad said. Dad looked at the coffee table for a distraction. He picked up a mug and paused. After taking a sip Dad put back the drink, and readjusted his glasses.
“Listen Matthew, you’re not any different than anyone else,” Dad said.
Matthew rolled his eyes. “Can I go now?”
“Not yet. We have to talk about it.”
“But why? I don’t see why.”
“Because I’m your father and this is one of those things that fathers and sons have to talk about.”
“I already know about the birds and the bees and that stuff.”
“But as much as you think you know, I know the schools never talk about...that,”
Matthew could feel his face blushing the more his father talked. He started to fidget with the house keys in his left hand hidden inside his jacket pocket.
“Now, Matthew. It’s perfectly natural,” Dad said as calmly as possible. “It’s not uncommon for a boy your age.”
“Dad,” Matthew said.
“I’m just saying- I mean when I was your age I’d have to,” Dad said. “In fact I used to do it all the time.” Dad took another sip from his mug starting to feel confident in what he was talking about.
“Everybody does it Matthew.”
“Dad,” Matthew mumbled.
“Everybody has urges… And sometimes you have to take care of those kinds of things.”
“Dad,” Matthew said more loudly.
“I know I do it sometimes. I know for a fact even your mother does it.”
“Dad,” Matthew shouted. “Can you not? Ya know… be gross and stuff... about it?”
“I’m sorry, bad example,” Dad said.
Knowing he’d gone outside the boundaries of a standard father-son conversation, Dad began to regroup.
“Listen son, I’m just saying that it’s a part of growing up.”
Dad moved in closer to try and save what had, up until this point, been a rather unpleasant experience for both of them. He reached out and put his hand on his son’s knee.
“One day a woman is going to make you so happy Matty,” Dad said with an awkward smile.
“It’s Matthew, Dad. Matthew. I’m not a little kid anymore.”
“Of course Matthew, sorry. You know what they say about old habits.”
“That’s okay,” Matthew said, hoping that saying something would get him the hell out of there quicker.
“It’s not bad, it’s completely natural. You know, when you’re with some woman one day, you’ll want to be ready. Being with a woman it’s...It’s just like getting to Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice, practice!”
Dad laughed and tapped Matthew on the arm. Matthew let out a strained laugh. “Well, anything else? I’m late to meeting Ricky and John.”
“No, just remember to lock your bedroom door, ya' know. From now on,” Dad said.
Matthew got up from the love seat and began to walk to the door with his shoulders sagging and head hung low.
“Oh, one more thing son,” Dad said as he turned back to the game on the television.
“What’s that Dad?”
“No one blows their nose with a sock,” Dad said. “Use kleenex for that stuff. Your mother won’t accidentally pick up a used kleenex like the sock she picked up the other day. And stiff crusty socks aren’t a sign of a cold.”