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When it was just smoke

There have been a lot of posts by well-meaning white folks lately. While it is nice, from my perspective it is bringing a smoke detector to a three-alarm fire. The people in the burn ward do not need to be told that while you have never been on fire, you understand that it was hot.

I needed you every time a person said I had a bad attitude. I needed you to ask them why they thought that. I needed you to point out that I wasn’t doing anything different, or responding differently than another coworker.

I needed you when someone said they felt threatened by me. I needed you to ask them why, and what I had done. I needed you to challenge them with their own bias. I needed you to tell them then, that being black isn’t a threat. I needed you to not validate their racist feelings just because they feel them. I needed you to think about how a man that has spent his life defending others would feel being labeled as dangerous.

I needed you to confront your friends when I told you how they treated me. Not tell me, that you don’t see me that way, or that you nave never seen it. I needed you to trust that I wouldn’t say it was a hostile work environment unless it was. I needed you to talk to people that wouldn’t listen to me.

I needed you every time someone said “I don’t see color” and tell them that doesn’t make them enlightened, but it makes the ignorant to the unique experiences of others. I’m not just talking about racism here, if you don’t see color, you miss out on the beauty of a rainbow.

I needed you more times than I can list here. And not just me, so many of us. I don’t need you to tell me when the world is on fire, I needed you when it was just smoke.

Originally posted to my Facebook June 1, 2020.



Slow it down she said

She talks to me like I don’t know what I’m doing

Try it again she scolds

Clearly she does not understand that her tone isn’t making it better

That isn’t right either

Can’t she see I am trying

No, do it like this

She shows me how she wants me to do it, but it only confuses me more

Your tempo is wrong, you keep doing it too fast

Over and over she says tells me to slow down

That may be how you think it is done, but that isn’t it.

The repetition is maddening, but I dutifully do as she says. 

That’s right, she says with a smile on her face, that is how it is done.

She leans back smiling, pleased with herself, and finally with me. Without another word she turns away from me.

Satisfied with my progress, I take out my pencil and place a check mark in the book. Man, learning the piano is hard.

Background: I needed a two credit class to be considered full time for the GI Bill so I took an elective. This is an accurate depiction of my experiences.

The Situation

It has been quiet in his sector … too quiet. Times like this make it hard to relax. The anticipation … it’s created tension. Tension so thick you can cut it with a knife. This calm before the storm is unsettling, why hasn’t it happened yet?

Then he sees it, the signal. A slight grimace, an almost inaudible grunt. But he is a man; grunts speak volumes to him. As he is an old hand at this there’s no mistaking the signal. Suddenly he is on his feet, moving across the room. Without slowing he plucks the 15 pound package and heads down the hall.

The door explodes open as his eyes search for something. Then he spies it, a workspace, a table made for this purpose. As he moves toward it he maintains that delicate balance of supporting his priceless load without soiling his favorite T-shirt.

Lightly he places the wriggling mass down. Throwing the strap over it, securing it without thinking. The action performed so many times it is automatic. Lesser men may need the extra safety measure, and while he doesn’t, safety isn’t something you scrimp on.

Anticipating what await him, he steels himself as he peels away the first layer. He was not, however, prepared for the barrage that assaults his senses upon exposure to air. It is his nemesis, his arch enemy, the bane of his very existence. Yes, he faces the horror of the poopy diaper.

Undaunted, he faces the challenge head on as he snatches baby wipe after baby wipe. Some would be tempted to be conservative at this stage in the game, but he knows better. The nurse’s voice still rings in his head with her simple yet sound advice, “every nook and cranny.” And that is exactly what he cleans, every nook and cranny. To not do so would invite disaster.

Not that he would know from personal experience. No, he has heard the rumors, rashes, chaffing. Consequences too dire to imagine. But not with his baby, not on his watch he vows.

He quickly inspects his handiwork. Glistening clean and soft as, well, a baby’s butt. Which is a good thing, because that is what it is, a baby’s butt. With a deft flick of the wrist the perfect amount of powder is delivered. Sure, some dump from above or squeeze the bottle, amateurs. But he is the pinnacle of his kind. The best of his breed, a stay home Dad. Rookie mistakes just aren’t in his makeup. After a fresh new diaper is put on and the pants replaced the baby is deposited back in the center of the floor to continue playing.

But his job does not end there. There may be a brownie situation brewing. They have been in the oven a long time … too long. And the unspeakable horror of burnt brownies are too much for this father to imagine. So it’s off to the kitchen he goes; just another mission for the stay home dad.

Background: Obviously, this was written when I was a stay home dad. I thought it was funny that some dads tried to make what they did seem heroic. Women have been staying home to take care of the kids since the beginning of time, it is just our turn now.