I’m going to let the wives in on a secret that most men have already come to realize, though remarkably few of us have been willing to admit to ourselves. The secret is that, by and large, most of us carry a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to our place in the household. This seems unavoidable because, when it comes to familial relations, they are frankly better than us in most ways. Let me go through the list quickly of all the attributes my wife clearly has me bested in.
– Organization – I’m not even sure I know what that word means.
– Likeability – My kids would choose her over me a thousand times out of a thousand.
– Thoughtfulness – My grandma started getting cards and gifts the day Carrie and I tied the knot.
– Planning – I get a minor case of hives every time I even think about planning something.
– Cooking – This one’s not even close.
– Looks – nuff’ said.
This list could go on and on, but to summarize, I believe the only two areas I top my wife in are subtle humor and being freakishly tall. At least, I thought this was the case before yesterday’s visit to the pumpkin patch with my boys. Now, I believe I can add one more item to my list of “betters.” When it comes to navigating corn mazes, I am one kick-ass expeditionary.
Our society today doesn’t exactly lend men many opportunities to hone manly skills. I remember reading the novel “The Road” and thinking if the main character were me, trying to survive with my child in a post-apocalyptic, nightmare world, that I would certainly lack the necessary survival tools for us to stand a chance. We’d be a feast for the cannibals for sure. Yesterday’s corn maze safari makes me think there may be hope for us yet, should the world ever really experience a nuclear meltdown.
Here is a breakdown of how the expedition carried out…
A corn maze safari should not be started without the ingestion of ample sustenance. Fortunately, the sponsors of this corn maze furnished us with our fill of butter-coated, salty roasted corn. With bellies full and greasy chins, we embarked into the maze labeled “Husky Maze” for its shape of a Washington Huskies football helmet and football. Little worth mention occurred in the Husky Maze, other than to say that my boys and I made quick work of all 6 checkpoints without once getting fooled my the maze’s myriad of switchbacks and dead-ends. On our way toward the exit, we passed an older couple who’d started just behind us and were still looking for checkpoint number 4. A small pack of teen girls had given up hope of ever finding their way out and were sacked out on an open patch of grass. They could have used a skilled guide such as myself.
You see, little did I know during my season as a pizza delivery driver, and later as an emergency flood technician, that years of calculating through complex map pages in my trusty Thomas Guide (the things we used before GPS and smart phones did all the work for us) in effort to find hungry and devastated homes would grow me into a master of map reading and navigation. Where most others see a confusing blend of squiggly lines, I see a concrete guide to destinations of victory and freedom.
With one maze down, I was momentarily content to head back to the car and go home, but my eldest son, still thirsting for a bit of adventure, took hold my hand, gazed into my face with an expression which cascaded forth from generations of sons who counted upon fathers to guide them through the mazes, not of cornstalks, but of boyhood to adulthood. His words were to the effect of travailing the neighboring maze, but his underlying message was clear – “Come, Father. Let’s go be men!”
Into the “Couger Maze” we plummeted. (Yes, thusly named for its Wazzu logo shape.) This maze, though longer in distance, appeared much simpler than the first. We breezed through the first 3 of 6 checkpoints before little Isaac’s legs started to give out. “Worry not, son!” said I, scooping him from the ground. “Your father’s shoulders are broad”.
It was also about this time that I noticed an odd buildup of lost humanity to our rear. At first assuming that the solo mother with four small children was merely enjoying the maze’s challenge as we were, I began to realize that they were actually following our lead. Or perhaps I am stating it too lightly. In truth, they were counting on us to help them find their way out – to find their way home. “Don’t worry about a thing, ma’am. We will all get out of this maze alive, so help me God!”
Doing my best to ignore the building burn in my ailing metatarsals, I guide our little party of voyagers on toward checkpoint 4. By the time we’ve punched our card at that station, our group has increased by several members, as another solo mom with little ones has sought the aid of my navigational talents. This is no longer just about having fun with the boys. Our mission has grown more weighty with the knowledge that the very lives of these women and children are in our hands.
At this time, when I was being relied on at the most, my confidence began to wane slightly. Suddenly, perhaps due to the distraction of so many lost and exhausted children about me, or maybe the aching pulse in my disease-stricken left foot, my surroundings began to blur. The simple map, which I earlier interpreted with such ease, was now beginning to look foreign. Right or left? Neither way seemed to match the map’s squiggly diagram. “Come on, dad” said one of the moms, pained expression on her face. I felt like Obi-Wan-Kenobi to Princess
Leah. “Help me, Obi-Wan! You’re my only hope!”
Isaac squirming on my shoulders, I knew I had to act, so I chose an uncertain direction, trying my best not to betray a lack of sureness. Several paces down the right hand path, I froze in my tracks. “What is it, dad?” said one of the moms.
“Those popcorn kernels on the ground.” I said while glancing at one of the kids in our brigade who was furiously munching on a bag of kettle corn. “We’ve already been down this path…Follow me; it must be this way.”
With my CSI skills proven intact, I guided the party swiftly through the remaining checkpoints and into the open air of the busy pumpkin patch. And as we emerged from the green sea of corn stalks, it occured to me that I had just experienced a strong example of what being a man is all about. In those tense moments, deep within the caverns of grain, those moms weren’t worried about laundry or kids clothes shopping or writing thank you cards. All they cared about was making it out of that corn patch with their children before night fell upon them and threatened them with cold doom.
And for that, it took a man.