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Here's the Bad News, Son

Here's the Bad News, Son

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Published by GoodMenProject

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Published by: GoodMenProject on Apr 28, 2011
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05/24/2013

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www.GoodMenProject.com
 
Here’s the
Bad News,
 
So
By SteveAlmond
Not even the most loving fa- ther can protect his son from the playgrounds, bars, andparking lots where bullieslurk, where soft emotions arehunted down and targeted,where fear becomes rage, andrage becomes violence.
 
www.GoodMenProject.com
I’m in the library of a small college in Salt Lake City when my cell phone rings. It’s my wife calling from our
home in Boston. She’s just visited her ob-gyn. We’ve been waing for the results of various prenatal tests. Iwalk to the bathroom, lock the door, and ip the phone open.My wife sounds happy, a lile out of breath. “Everything went great. No problems.” She pauses. “They didanother ultrasound.”By this she means, I know the gender of the child. This is a touchy subject, because both of us have beenforthright about our desire for female ospring. When my wife told me, two years ago, that our rst child wasa daughter, I ushed with joy.“Do you want to know?” my wife asks.
 She’s in such a buoyant mood. We must be having another girl.
“Sure,” I say.“It’s a boy,” she says.I close my eyes. My forehead thuds soly against the mirror over the sink. It’s my job now to say something,
rather quickly, about how great this is, how excited I am to be having a son, a bouncing baby boy, an heir tocarry on our silly family name. But when I open my eyes, the light inside the bathroom is a sickly yellow and mychest is hammering with panic.
I’m maybe ve years old. This is in the house on Frenchman’s Hill, where I grew up. Our cat, Macacheese, has just given birth to a lier of kiens in the backyard. But the kiens came out dead, sllborn in their amnioc
shellac. We’re not allowed to see them.
The event has me torn up, so I’m inside, sort of curled on my bed.My older brother Dave appears in the doorway. “Remember when you dropped Macacheese on her head?” he
says.I shake my head.
“That’s when the kiens died,” he says. “You killed them.”Dave and I are ghng in the TV room. It’s a boy ght: hurled sts and grunng. Our dad is seated on the pianobench, watching this awkward spectacle. He believes we need to “get our aggression out,” and that there’s noother way to do it. He’s even sort of roong me on, because Dave is bigger and I need to stand up for myself.Dave grabs my hair and pulls down unl I’m jackknifed at the waist, my head trapped below his chest. “Calmdown,” he says. “I’m not going to let you up unl you quit spazzing out.”“You fucking pulled my hair!”
I’m appealing, I guess, to our dad. But he’s no longer in the room.
I nally agree to calm down.
 
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The moment Dave lets me up, I swing for his jaw and land a glancing blow. Later, aer we’ve retreated to ourrooms, our father comes to check on me. I’m lying on the blue rug, crying. He tells me Dave has a broken hand,from when he hit the coee table. He’d been aiming for my skull.
 
I ght with my twin brother, Mike, too, unl he hits a growth spurt and becomes too big to tangle with. Our 
-
nal ght is especially vicious. We grapple and punch and tumble across the bed. We can smell each other—ourskin, our breath. The inmacy is disorienng. Not so long ago, the two of us walked to school pressed togetherat the shoulder. But the prohibions of boyhood have torn us apart. These days, the only me we touch iswhen we ghtHaving pummeled each other to exhauson, we stand face to face. Our chests heave with adrenaline. We’reconfused, not sure how to bring this to a close. My hand ies up and slaps Mike across the face. It’s a loud,
clean blow, delivered so quickly neither of us can quite believe it. Mike bursts into tears and runs from the
room. I stand, staring down at my hand. My palm sngs, but the rest of me feels nothing.Around this me, I become convinced that Peter Guerrero wants to kick my ass. I have no idea how this noonhas taken root, but I spend every lunch period obsessing over it. Peter is a pudgy kid with a rash that makes theskin on his arms red and aky. I am constantly thinking about where he is, where I can and cannot walk, what
to say if he approaches me.
This is how I understand masculinity to operate: Either
 you are a bully or you are bullied. You fnd a weaker boy 
to absorb your humiliation, or you are that boy.
A few years later, the bully is a kid named Sean Linden, who organizes a posse of his friends to antagonize me.For months, they call me names and issue threats. Linden never gives any indicaon of why he has targetedme, and I never ask. All we know is that because I’m too frightened to ght back, I’ve consented to this ar
-rangement.
The only arena in which I enjoy some measure of physical pride is the soccer eld, where I’m small but quick,a star. One year, I lead my team all the way to the city championship game. I score a goal early and assist on asecond, which puts us up 2–0 at halime. Then a teammate tells me that the toughest kid on the other team isgoing to beat me up aer the game. I spend the second half in a silent panic. We lose the game 3–2. I’m con
-vinced my cowardice is to blame.
It’s 1981, and Sugar Ray Leonard is ghng Tommy Hearns. It’s one of the rst ghts on pay-per-view, and myfather has agreed to buy the telecast. We’ve moved the TV into the living room because a bunch of friendshave come over. There are maybe a dozen of us, men and boys ung across sofas and chairs.I’ve been at the park, walking our hyperacve Labrador retriever. Dave, my older brother, is a senior in high
school now. Mike and I are sophomores. As I approach our house, I can see our mother through the full-length
window next to the front door. Her expression is grave, her complexion heading toward ashen.

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Good story
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terrific caring truthful heart felt write excellent work thanks father mike god speed with child

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