Knowing that my teenage son is in archery makes me feel better about my chances at any pending apocalypse that may be coming our way. While the rest of my family would prove utterly useless, unless you count freaking out when they see a spider. So at least my they could be used (temporarily) as an alarm system. Or perhaps bait. I haven’t figured that out just yet.
I love taking my son to his tournaments. It’s more than just a father being supportive. It’s providing for my future survival. If there ever comes a time to where squirrel meat is the only protein available, I will be one up on the rest of you suckers. My boy loves his dad, and that means that squirrel stew is on the menu!
This last tournament, before it was meant to start, I saw my son from my high vantage point in the gym stands. The stands rise up over the court by 8 feet, and give an excellent view. I can see all the archers and all the targets. But I’ve noticed that I need my glasses now as things have gotten blurry. It’s a reminder that on doomsday I’m going to need my boy.
“Wyatt,” I said when I saw the top of his head. He did not turn. “Wyatt,” I said again, a little bit louder. No answer. I admit, I might have gotten a little nervous at this point. What if he wouldn’t take care of his old man when I needed it? What if I don’t get a squirrel?
“Boy!” I screamed in my redneck dad voice. What I truly wanted to do was to give him a thumbs up. A bit of encouragement and to remind him that dad is here. But he didn’t look up. A boy he was talking to looked up. But my son? Completely ignored me.
Probably because the poor kid I was screaming at was not my son. I saw my son walk into the gym on the other side. The kid I was yelling at looked like my son from above. He had the same messy brown hair, grey baggy sweatpants, and shoulders that have grown over the last year. But it was not my son, just some poor kid that I was heckling.
There are times in my life that my children have directly said “Dad, please don’t embarrass us.” I usually heed those requests. Oh, I’ve played my music too loud on occasion or did a little goofy dance in front of their friends. But perhaps this is what my kids meant. Don’t embarrass us on accident.
Quickly I tried to hide my face. The day could still be salvaged, and I generally felt awful. I hate the stereotypical sports parent. They bug me to my very core. I’ve seen them yell at refs, try to pick fights, and claim that the whole world is unfair. I’ve never been that guy. Well, apparently I’m that guy. I’m the guy who yells at random kids.
The rest of the tournament went fine. My son shot well, and for a while I rested peacefully in the knowledge that I would survive at the end of times. When the last arrow was scored, I joined the other parents in the hallway as we waited for our kids.
I gave myself some space from the rest of the crowd. I see no reason to clog up a walkway when my son will find me a little bit down the way. It also bugs me when people block a doorway for no reason. It makes everything harder. And besides, whatever I had for breakfast that morning wasn’t sitting well in my stomach.
Were the eggs expired? Given the current price of eggs, it is possible that I’ve been taking some liberties. Or perhaps it’s the greasy sausage I had with my eggs? Whatever the case, my stomach wasn’t feeling right.
So I did what comes naturally. In the politest terms, I allowed my stomach to relieve it’s pressure. The result could be considered a stage five biohazard. And it just hung there, as there was no breeze in the hallway, the cloud hovered in space. I scooted away for even I could not take the foulness that surrounded me.
That’s when another family decided it was time to stand right next to me.
I have never seen a person truly react to a smell before. The father’s eyes got wide. The young girl’s eyebrows came together and her lips twisted. I didn’t catch the look of the mother but I can only assume she felt like she had been punched in the face. Then their son walked out. It was the same boy that I thought was my son. The one I accidently heckled.
There are times when ever man knows they need to own up to their mistakes. Even if those mistakes are innocent and the result of a questionable breakfast. For me, this was not that time.
I walked away from the family. Yup, I turned my back and didn’t take ownership. I didn’t apologize. I let my embarrassment win the day. I often tell my kids that I cannot be embarrassed anymore. The things that they have put me through have built up a wall. But apparently that wall can be broken because of spicy egg stomach.
“Dad, did you see me shoot?” my son said.
“Yup. You did great. Totally great. Look, we have to leave. Like, right now.”
Like a trooper, my son didn’t ask why. He followed me out the door, and we replayed the tournament. His hits and his misses.
But what I didn’t discuss is that I may have started the apocalypse early, and that’s a shame I will have to bear for the rest of my life. But at least my bow shooting son will keep me fed, until squirrel doesn’t agree with my stomach.
This Post is republished on Medium.
Photo credit: iStock