A Father's Lesson

Freight Train Magazine 2013 The-Window-Lit-Magazine

 

My father laughed after he hit my finger with a hammer. I sat crying and squeezing my finger and he said, “There’s a lesson here for you. If someone asks you to hold the nail while they hammer say no. Tell them that you’ll be the one to hammer.”

I did what he hoped I’d do and that was to extend that theory into all aspects of my life—whether if was sports, business or relationships—I was the hammer and never the nail.

So I became successful, tough-minded and learned to manipulate hammer holders into nail holders. I was also disliked, but not openly, and while not friendless, I certainly didn’t have a cadre of close friends I could hang with.

But it was too late to change I realized and went to a shrink to try and at least modify my life. I told her the hammer and nail story and how I was tired of making all of the decisions at home—always being the one to pick the movie, the restaurant and the vacation spot.

She listened and said. “You’ve set up your marriage like this early on so what did you expect? You have the same issues at work I’d bet,” she said smugly and then added. “ There’s no way for a forty year old man to change overnight; try one thing at a time. Start with something small at home and then add on to it and pretty soon you’ll find that you’ll have a partner for a wife.”

“Tell me what I should start out with,” I said and she told me to pick one little thing like asking my wife what couple to invite for dinner and let her choose the menu.

“She’s gonna fuck it up. I just know it,” I said.

“These are small things—give her the benefit of the doubt.”

“You know I did that and she had these boring people over and it was all I could do to not get drunker than I did— they were so bad.

“Tell me about another time,” the psychologist asked.

“What other time?”

“Tell me about another time your wife made a decision that didn’t turn out so well.”

“Are you kidding? You think I gave her another shot after that?”

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