by Simon Pinkerton
I walk down this path I’ve been walking on next to the quick river for the last fifteen years and feel like it could be the first time seeing these ducks and these boats and making the same slightly awkward exchanges with other walkers crushed next to me by its waxing and waning, but it is not the first time, nor is it even the thousandth. I walk and I think. I get older and more serious, less libidinous, and I’m starting to see the whole of courtship as a pretty grim deal for women.
Two young girls walk towards me, both of them semi-made-up, which, most are usually at least semi-made-up for that Natural Look, one small injustice (grooming inequality) that foreshadows the great injustice, childbirth. I say to one girl, “Thank you”, and to the other, “Sorry.”
They stare like I’m at best mistaken and at middle crazy and at worst about to launch into a chat-up patter.
I continue walking and watch them shift their incredulous and extreme temporary eyebrow arrangements to meet each other’s gaze, and then I look straight ahead as they giggle and one grabs the other like “WTF?”, but I hope they remember this moment and put it together at some point, even subconsciously. I hope I metamorphose from the Crazy River Man to the spokesperson for all sorts of men like me.
I think of in-market, in-heat, young and old men looking at or worse, leering at these girls, one or two ultimately coercing them into pushing their enormous babies’ heads and shoulders out of what was once small and elastic and intensely private, then made more public and less resilient and in some cases fairly ruined, maybe even requiring surgery, the thought of which makes me shudder and ashamed. Continence issues. Mothers should somehow be compensated, and I think that a perceived deeper bond with offspring isn’t enough. I don’t know what is.
I’m a father twice over and I say all the time, to all mothers, and to all those who will be, Thank you, and, Sorry.
***Simon Pinkerton lives in a slightly low-rent, aeroplaney part of London, with his wife and two boys and millions of microscopic organisms, ahhh gross. He is a contributor at Word Riot, Razed (awesome parental humor) and Queen Mobs Tea House, among other fine sites. BEFRIEND @simonpinkerton***