Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Hero Vanishes

He wasn't the smartest man in the world. It came as sort of a blow to me. I remember the day I discovered it. I was up the street at the house of a friend; I think I was about ten.  We were watching his dad work on the car. (I remember that we used to watch people DO things, do kids watch anything anymore besides screens of one sort or another?) His father was explaining to us, as my dad had often done for me, in great detail how some part of the engine worked and while he was talking...it hit me.  Something that had never occurred to me before, "What if all the dads know that?" And then, "I'll bet all the dads DO know it."

And just like that all kinds of things that had been impossible before became possible. It was possible that sometimes my mother was right when they disagreed (I doubt it was ever TRUE but it was possible) and that he didn't always know the answer to my question. It was possible that he could be scared or intimidated.  It was possible he wasn't always telling me the truth or giving me the best advice.

Something in the world, in my world, shifted that day and it could never shift back.  The hero didn't entirely vanish but as years went on I saw more and more realistically and somewhat unfairly, through the eyes of a teenage girl who was sometimes embarrassed by his corny jokes and goofy antics, a real man emerge.  The new man wasn't the smartest or the toughest, but he was honest, dependable, and faithful to the end. All of which sounds very heroic, now that I think of it.

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