I open my eyes slightly to see if Reynold has clocked my being awake. “I’m in the clear,” I think to myself as he stirs at the foot of the bed. “If I’m lucky, S will be on early morning potty duty.” Puppy dog already knows this is a fight he’ll always win, it’s just a matter of who will be accompanying him.
S and I brought Reynold home when he was only eight weeks old and from that moment on it was game over for me. Because I was the one doing most of the crate training and taking him out at all hours of the night, I immediately became the hey-dad-I-have-to-poop dad.
I remain in my statue state. “Make eye contact, and you’re done.” I remind myself as I strengthen my act. When Reynold catches your eye it’s like facing Medusa, but instead of turning into stone, you end up taking him out or fetching the ball that’s stuck under the couch. The dude has an iron stare, for sure.
I make the mistake of twitching a bit, but S begins to move more than I in this moment. “YES.” You see, S messed up here because now Reynold begins to climb all over us and barrel roll his way between us; basically telling us to get our asses up so he can go on his morning stroll.
S slowly swings his legs over the side of the bed and I know I’ve won. Reynold is going on and on at this point. He does this weird mix of a growl and snort – it’s odd and hilarious – when he’s talking to us. I’m almost positive that these sounds paired with his raspy bark translates to “Hurry the EFF up, dad! I’ve got to go!”
S makes his way towards our closet and Reynold begins to bounce uncontrollably all over the room. He knows he’s minutes away from getting to patrol the perimeter for birds and chipmunks. NOW I can open my eyes and play with him right before S takes him out.
“I Win. No morning poop duty for me today.” I revel in my small victory and enjoy the 15-pound monster that’s darting all over my bedroom. I love my dog, but this dad needs a break sometimes. So under these sheets is where I will stay until he and S are out the door 🙂
“What’re we doing again?” he presents this frequently asked question as I bring up pending plans for G’s birthday celebration down in Bloomington. “We went over this!” I tease, waiting to repeat the information for a third or fourth time. “Ugh, just tell me!” Selective hearing is a trait he, his brother, and father all have in common. You could be sitting next to S with a cigarette lighter in hand, mention a gas leak, and get nothing – maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it’s humorous nonetheless. The manifestation of quick, mischievous panic is the usual expression displayed when he tunes back into our conversations; sharing nothing but wide eyes and a smile. Softening to his plea, I administer a small dose of guilt with one of my very own frequently asked questions. “You didn’t hear anything I just said, did you?” And the beat goes on.
Forbidden fruit comes in the form of the heterosexual male. During my time in the closet – from eighth grade until about three weeks into my college career – I had plenty of secret crushes on straight friends that I knew I could not have. I strongly believe that it’s this time in the closet that causes the craving for a straight guy to brew and reach extremely potent levels. I remember when guys would ask me “what I was looking for” in a guy – in various gay dating chat rooms – and I would simply respond with the descriptor: “straight-acting.” What does that even mean?! That description is still frequently tossed around in regular conversation amongst gay friends. Stereotypically speaking, the term “straight-acting” represents a heterosexual guy who is macho, strong, and handy, is into sports, and doesn’t mind getting dirty; someone that can wrestle in a godly fashion. The picture next to my interpretation of the definition would be an image of thick, burly, muscular lumberjacks; complete with tight denim and a big axes. He would be a bearded, gloriously-sweaty – Gaston from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” – or a Gerard Butler type of guy.
Little did I know then, that I would end up with my “straight-acting” guy. It’s always an adventure with S, especially now that we live under one roof. My daily interests revolve around the performing arts – having played music from a young age – Pinterest boards, organizing our closet, and stressing about the growing bald spot at the back of my head. S will spend the entire college basketball off-season counting down to the first game of the next season. He grew up on a farm with real chores – raising horses and cleaning stalls – and can change the oil on his own car. You’d think that being from Alaska I would be a better outdoors person, but he takes the cake in that area too. We went hiking once with friends, and I spent the entire time running from ticks. Occasionally I’ll get in his car and he’ll have it tuned to a sports radio show. “What’s this?” was the question I would ask with the look of instant boredom smeared across my face. He would then proceed to laugh and let me plug in Spotify; set to the “Radiohead Radio” station most likely. I imagine S probably has the same look on his face when I turn on an episode of ABC’s “Scandal.” Since our beginning, I have joked with friends and family about S being my “straight curse.” Every day I gain life from the gifts my curse provides… for this I will be forever thankful.