A proud but albeit sad moment occurred in my house this past week. I say proud because my son has taken yet another step on his path to becoming a man. Sad because it yet again signifies that my wife thinks I’m a wuss.
I am of course talking about “The Pickle Jar Test of Manhood.” Most families are familiar with this test even though they might not even know it. Not that long ago, when my wife would have troubles opening a stubborn pickle jar, it was me that she would come to solve her problems. She would hand me the container of sweet baby dills and watch me work my magic.
I think she liked to watch my sinewy biceps ripple as I began my struggle with the stubborn lid. As the sweat dripped from my brow, I could feel her wanton gaze upon me. If it was a lingering battle, and I would have to re-position my vice-like grip on my metal and glass opponent, she would sometimes offer me a damp rag to lessen any chance of me getting a nasty blister. In the end, I would usually tap it on the edge of the counter and maybe run it under some hot and/or cold water. If all that failed, I would point out the high salt content in pickles and that we were probably better off not eating them. Women like it when you have brains along with your brawn.
There are several benchmarks that fathers keep track of when it comes to their sons growing up. There’s that first time when you’re out in the yard playing catch and your son throws the ball hard enough to make your hand hurt. Or that first time he throws a curve or a knuckleball that actually moves and ends up missing your glove and hitting old dad in a place that might make the son an only child. I’ve never been prouder than looking up at my boy from our crab-grass-filled lawn and asking him through salty tears and a falsetto voice if he could please go in the house and get daddy some ice. Lots of ice. Ah, good times.
There’s also that first time that he legitimately beats you playing one-on-one basketball out in the driveway. It fills my heart with pride when I think back to that day and that smile that lit up his little face. It fills my heart with more pride when I remember that hard foul I gave him the next time he tried to take the basket to the hole. The kid’s gotta learn sometime.
And then there’s that time when he first beat you like a cheap drum in Madden Football on his Playstation. I’ve never played since. Not once. Never.
The other day, as I was sitting in my wife’s chair (the boy was sitting in mine) my wife had an encounter with one of those stubborn pickle jars. As she strode into the living room with trouble-making container, I started limbering up with my pre-jar-opening stretching ritual. (You don’t want to attempt these maneuvers with cold muscles. You might pull a hammy.)
Imagine my surprise when, instead of coming to her jar-opening hero of nearly 22 years, she goes to her 19-year-old son with the painful curveball. I could have used some more ice.
Apparently, pickle companies have decreased the amount of pressure that they put on their lids with nowadays (it’s probably due to the economy). I say that because within mere seconds, the smell of kosher dills cascaded across the room to my ego-deflated nostrils from that jar. Not only did he open it, but he did it from my chair. My chair! The little show-off.
I now plan on living out the rest of my days in relative seclusion, eating most of my food from zip-lock baggies and easy-opening boxes. Pickles may never pass these lips again. Sniff.
Luckily, I have a 7-year-old daughter that still thinks her old dad can do some pretty cool stuff. I do all sorts of strong-looking things around her, and I can tell that she’s truly impressed. On that inevitable day when she asks me about her brother and the great Pickle Jar Manhood Test of 2013, I’ll look down into her big eyes and tell her how proud I am of both of my children.
And that will also be a good time to tell her that although it may seem like a good idea at the time, using steroids are bad.
You can contact Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on his blog at http://gregwallaceink.blogspot.com.