Girls still attract, but boys these days have a Halo

Posted: March 18, 2014

I STILL REMEMBER the first time I saw a weapon in my house.

It was about three years ago, and my wife and I were in the midst of one of those silly arguments married people have. I can't even remember what it was about. All I know is, my wife, LaVeta, was upset. We both were, and as we engaged in a rhetorical back and forth, I made a terrible mistake. I followed her into a room she knows much better than I do - the kitchen.

I said something to press my point - whatever that point happened to be - and that's when it happened. LaVeta reached into the dish rack, pulled out a cheese grater and pointed it toward me.

At least I thought it was a cheese grater. Apparently it was a microplane zester, and though she later told me she would not have actually used it, I imagined her grating me into a pile of brown confetti. Needless to say, I don't argue with her in the kitchen anymore, because hell hath no fury like a woman with a microplane zester.

I was reminded of that weapon story the other day, when an old friend ran into LaVeta and our daughter, Eve, who's 12 and growing into a beautiful young lady.

"You better get your shotgun ready," he said.

I smiled, because I knew what he meant. Boys, being the filthy little buggers they are, will begin sniffing around my daughter any minute now, and I'm going to need something to fend them off.

At least that's the way it used to work. Boys reached puberty, began to notice girls and pulled the girls' hair in an awkward attempt to play kissy-face. That's why fathers started toting shotguns and other deadly weapons in the first place. We needed them to chase away the unsuitable suitors who were chasing after our daughters.

As dads, we know those little scoundrels. We understand how quickly they move from hair pulling to outright manipulation, in an effort to achieve their dastardly goals. We know this, because when we were their age, we did the exact same thing.

But these days, things are a little different. Boys wait longer to start pulling girls' hair, because they can't seem to get their grubby little hands off their video games.

At a time when boys would normally be toying with the idea of reaching first base, they're toying with the remote in an effort to reach level five on "Halo." In preteen years that once involved fighting each other, boys now fight to save the universe on "Battlefield Earth." These days, instead of calling little girls on the phone, they answer the "Call of Duty," often playing until their thumbs are raw and bloody.

The only weapons these boys know how to use are video game controllers. That's fine, I guess, because for the moment that keeps them away from my daughter.

The way I figure it, I've got a year or so before these new-fangled boys put down their remote controls and muster enough courage to ask Eve to the middle-school dance. Hopefully she'll see that they're losers after that and immerse herself in her studies. Other girls might not wise up as quickly.

The boys will lose themselves in "Call of Duty" once again, and come up for air in time to ask some girl to the prom. When they reach their 20s, and graduate from college, they'll venture out of their parents' basement just long enough to find a wife. Unfortunately, they'll go back to the video games soon after, and that's when things will get ugly.

The way I see it, the little boys who played Halo when they should've been playing kissy-face are going to have it much rougher than I did. They won't have the experience of chasing girls and being summarily rejected, like boys did back in my day. They won't have the experience of wooing and winning a girl face-to-face, instead of through some online dating service. And they definitely won't know what it means to argue in person rather than by text message.

That's what scares me about these boys. I'm afraid they won't know what to do when their wives pick up those microplane zesters. And if a boy doesn't know how to calm his woman in that grating moment of truth, I'm not sure he could ever be good enough for my baby.


Solomon Jones is the author of 10 books, including his latest novel, The Dead Man's Wife (Minotaur Books), and the humor collection Daddy's Home: A Memoir of Fatherhood and Laughter. The married father of three has been featured on NPR and CNN, and has written on parenting for Essence and other publications. He created the literacy program Words on the Street. His column appears Tuesdays. More at Solomonjones.com.

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