Most of my father-son memories are documented in some way using the camera from my iPhone. It takes pretty good shots, and I'll admit it, I have a bit of a social media addiction. This moment was different, though.
One rainy day when I was eight years old, my mother told me to put on my clothes; we were going around the corner to the drugstore to call my father. My heart pumped with excitement--in sharp contrast with my mother's somber and resolute demeanor.
Fists pounded my face from every angle. I am so stupid for coming out into this hallway, I thought. I should've known they'd be out here waiting for me. I wanted to scream, but I resolved to take the beating as punishment for my life.
These days men can't just be stone-crushing, elephant-lifting, six-pack having babe magnets. Now you have to have an amazing job, 401K, be a great father, and manscape. It's not easy anymore. The days of good looks and pure muscle strength are over, boys.
It's dark. Very dark. And I'm in the woods, surrounded by strange men with flashlights on their heads. I'm cold. Hungry. And really scared. A guy with neck tattoos is squinting at me. Please, God, don't let me piss him off.
Every year, I'm stymied by finding an appropriate Father's Day card. The majority of the cards refer to barbecues, beer, golfing, fishing, sleeping, having the answers, giving advice, or passing gas. How did these things become the image of fathers?
How the hell are we supposed to know a real man when we think we've found one if there's not even close to a consensus on what one is!? Fortunately for you, I've taken the effort to compile a definitive guide on the matter.
Throughout this process I've left Barrett the boy and have become Barrett the man. A man who released the shame he felt for wanting to love another man. A man who addressed issues that were holding him back. A man who has started to live authentically. A real man.
My favorite part is a little over a minute in, when the boy in the yellow shirt realizes that his interpretation of #LikeAGirl insulted girls, including possibly, his own sister. I love this ad so very much. However, as a boy mom, I just have to say... what about the boys?
Perhaps my friend, with her pat answer, stumbled upon a naked truth about men today -- that maybe we really don't have a clear definition of who we are, as men, and perhaps even worse, we can't even define it for ourselves.
As much as I had longed for an apology from my father for all of those years, I had never really thought it was possible. But by finding my own compassion for him, I had broken down everything that needed to be broken within him.
The night when impotence first crossed my mind announced my fall from grace as a man. I was 14 years old, a blissful stranger to the histrionics of the male erection. My own was something I took for granted.
As a child, I was raised by one parent who was a charter subscriber to Ms. magazine and spent weekends in the bachelor pad of another who collected (also from its first issue) Playboy. Perhaps it is no wonder then that today I am a professor of gender and sexuality studies,