MAYBE YOUR DAD was right, your wife says as the two of you sit at the kitchen table one Sunday morning, the half-eaten pancakes laying there in a pool of coagulating syrup, The New York Times scattered everywhere, the boys off in the back, screaming, crying, shouting, fighting, all of it, and endlessly at that.
You sit there for a moment trying to figure out what your father might have been right about. He was a smart guy and full of unsolicited, though at times useful advice, but what could he have said that applies here, and now?
Yeah, you say, about what, how you should never pee off of the back of a truck into the wind? That was sound advice, you think, though clearly stolen from On the Road.
Your wife laughs her throaty Brenda Vaccaro laugh.
No, that other thing, she says.
What, how there’s no reason to get married, or how you should always drive defensively, he loved that one, you say.
Nope, she says, scanning the Sunday Styles section, not those either.
There’s something else, you think? Fuck, really, what?
Got nothing, you say.
That’s what she said, she says.
Indeed, you say, well played, what then, what are we talking about here?
That thing about how you don’t need to have more than one kid, she says, how you, your mom, and him, the three of you, were a good team, but then they added your brother and it was never quite the same after that.
Now it’s your turn to laugh.
Oh, that thing, right, he definitely said that, don’t tell my brother though, you say.
And you both laugh.
The two of you were never going to have just one, never, none maybe, but not one. What if he or she died, then what, you’d have nothing, and nothing after something was not going to work.
You both felt this way, not that you had ever discussed it. Not that you had to, either, though. All you had to do was confirm the feeling when you decided to have the first one, its mutuality, and how wrong it sounded said out loud, but how it had to be said anyway.
You do wonder which part of having the second one she is referring to, however.
Is it the sudden lack of money, the endless noise, stress, exhaustion, what, all of it, none of it, whatever, it doesn’t matter, it all kind of sucks, and you don’t have to ask which part sucks the most.
The boys amble into the room.
The older one turns on the computer, some fashion site he loves, he puts on his headphones, and tunes you out completely.
The younger one just sort falls over on the ground and starts talking to himself, though about what you cannot comprehend, and never can, something Pokemon, you think, but beyond that, it is otherwise incomprehensible to you, and anyone over four years of age.
You think about the day you brought him home, how scary it was, even though you had done it before, and yet how unbelievably yummy he was from the jump, so yummy that you could just eat him, and would have, all of him, just gulping him whole.
The older one has always been harder, beautiful, but twitchy and ready for a fight, the little one though, he’s like a donut, a grimy, oozy, sticky, crying powdered donut that you just want to stroke and smell, and curl-up with at every moment possible.
You look at him some more.
You turn away to look at your wife who is staring at him as well, a small smile snaking across her beautiful face.
You then turn to look out the window again and you realize that you can no longer recall what the two of you were talking about before they came in.
Ben Tanzer is the author of the books My Father's House, You Can Make Him Like You, So Different
Now and the forthcoming Orphans, among others. Ben also oversees day to day operations of This
Zine Will Change Your Life and can be found online at This Blog Will Change Your Life
the center of his growing lifestyle empire.