Lately I’ve been infatuated with the idea of breaking shit. Or rather: The idea has been infatuated with me. Lemme clarify: I haven’t wanted to break any of my shit; mostly my wife’s. The life of the idea is akin to a photograph flash as I’m always reminded that she doesn’t really have any shit I could break that would just devastate her. Mostly, I think, she’d just feel broken knowing that she’s married to a crazy person.
And that’s no fun. She works with crazy people for a living. So it’d be like taking pieces of her paycheck and putting them in the trash, as we’d naturally want to replace whatever it was I destroyed.
What probably ruins it more, though, is that she’d have to tell her family and friends that I smashed something in a fit of rage and then they’d look at me funny. Or at least I’d be paranoid thinking they were looking at me funny, talking about me behind my back. Also, I can hear my daughter parroting “Daddy broke ours” whenever it occurred to her to say so, or when she came across such an object out there in her little person’s life.
I’d probably feel pretty crummy about breaking the thing, too, but in that pan sizzle of a moment when I’ve body-jumped into the temporarily insane me -- man, do I want to break something. I’m uncertain about the makeup of such a desire, but usually it feels like: two parts release, one part display of power, and half a part of some vague symbolism into which I haven’t yet tapped.
There’s a milder side to the paranoia, too, wherein I think I’d probably involve myself in some cocktail of accidental self-harm, legal trouble, and a wicked hangover, alcohol-induced or otherwise. So I don’t do it. And I don’t wanna do it. Most of the time.
When you first chit-chat about having a second child everything seems so minor. Between the two of you, talking with people in your circles, and even with casual acquaintances that have walked the walk, it’s all just really laid back. Then (some couples) start trying to get pregnant. It’s different for everyone, but if you’re not successful overnight, it can turn into, for lack of a better word, a chore.
I mean, once the intimate side of your relationship isn’t happening organically it starts to feel like walking the dog. It’s cold out. You’re tired. The last thing you want to do is clutch a steaming pile of fresh turd through an inside-out plastic grocery bag. You sort of just want the dog to take care of it himself. (For the record, I’m way too lazy to ever walk the dog, and I do mean ever. We don’t have a fenced-in back yard for nothing, Jack.)
Anyway, this goes on for a bit, and then, one day you come home and it’s like finding out you’re being audited by the I.R.S., or that, through some glitch in the system, transfer of ownership on your house didn’t go through and you could be given 24 hours notice to be out at any point in the next week. Yeah. Surprise: You’re pregnant.
Then opinions start to trickle in. Some will say, Congrats! Two is only about six times harder than one. Others offer the numbing advice that if you can make the leap from one to two, all the babies thereafter will be a cakewalk. Your guy friends will come up with clever sporty associations like “man-to-man coverage” and phrases like, Game on. And some people will look at you like you’re crazy when you tell them the news. And when you’re all alone, in unexpecting moments, it will dawn on you why you suddenly started seeing certain couples no more than twice a year, like their lives with multiple children just started eating away at their hours like a savage virus.
Before you know it: bam. Baby’s here. And a funny thing happens at almost the exact moment you sever the umbilical cord: You forget how you learned all of the parenting things you did the first time around. You’re a rookie all over again. The pressure’s on for you to perform, and this time you’ve got a locker-room cancer on your roster and on the back of their jersey, the letters spell out “First Kid.”
This isn’t like your traditional professional-sporting situation, though. There’re very few fans. They came to your games and bought your popcorn the first time you did this and what was the return on their investment? Some stupid pictures and status updates on Facebook? Gee…thanks, bro.
There’s also no salary and no upper management guiding you. There’s just you and your lousy team that has already lost like 600 games in the first week of the season, and that character on your roster just keeps rollin’ through your living room, her head looking a little bit more like an anvil every time she tells you she needs something, which is roughly once every two-point-six seconds. You keep pointing to the front of the jersey and you give good, thought-out lectures about team and dedication, commitment and poise, patience and determination, but every time you hear her walking away, you look and she’s giving you the Dwayne Bowe double-thumb point to the name on the back.
So you feel like breaking stuff.
Not just cruising around the house getting ready for work, or out in the yard raking leaves. And not even in the witching hour. No, this is typically just after the witching hour. Some call it “bedtime.” That’s usually when it happens, but its schedule is subject to up and insert itself in any (or all) of the other 23 hour-long segments of the day, and it’s usually associated with a cyclical feeling of one child screaming while the other one cries while you feel like your spouse is trying to do as little as possible simply out of interest to see how much you can take on/accomplish in one day or in any given moment. Mind-blowingly, this is almost tolerable. Then your beloved better half opens her mouth to criticize the way in which you are or aren’t doing something.
And the rapid-fire inventory begins.
It’d be easy to summon every atom of strength in your corps and spike her cell phone on the ground like you’re a member of the late ‘80s New York Giants. You’re proud of that touchdown and you want Coach Parcells to be proud of you, too. But that wouldn’t be smash-y enough, and two things would probably happen: a) You’d feel like a complete jerk store the second it happened and you’d idiotically sweep up the pieces to see if it were salvageable, giving up just short of b) her finding a way to adhere the pieces back to themselves with a bunch of packing tape and some stupid sparkly stickers.
Of course, you’d then be present for approximately 7,000 situations in which, What happened to your phone? comes up.
No, it’d have to be something bigger, like a huge piece of furniture. A couch, perhaps, that you could launch through a picture window were it not 20 degrees out, or a giant decorative mirror you could annihilate with the skillet from your wedding-present cookware set had that not been the only skillet that came with it. Thanks, weather. Thanks, Caphalon.
This inventory quickly concludes, however, as the things you want to break get less and less interesting and you worry more and more about the infinite number of awesome things you own that she might break were she lowly enough (Note: She isn’t.) to retaliate. Ultimately, the crying and the screaming and the hugely unsuccessful bicker-in-front-of-the-kids-but-not-so-it-looks-like-we’re-bickering novel gets another chapter added to it, and teeth are brushed and you go to bed and toss and turn in between weird dreams with miscellaneous deadlines from all of your previous jobs compressed into one afternoon in your new job’s building and sexual adventures with the largely unattractive person you’ve never met before that suddenly lives in your next-door neighbor’s house and you wake up an hour and seven minutes before your alarm’s about to go off so you can lie there and think about doing it all over again.
As you turn the tub’s hot-water faucet knob in the dark, the squeak of it sounds eerily similar to, Hooray. Many, many moments then pass after you’ve completed your showerly duties. You know your spouse is out there cringing at the water bill you’re racking up, so as you turn off the water, Wanda Sykes' voice rings through your bathroom vent:
I'd like for this to be a fun, stimulating post with lots of amazing pictures of our son coming into the world, and I'll get there. But that day, my friends, is not today.