My Life Coach Terry gave me a personal challenge. “Get a pet,” he said. “Become a pack leader.” But traveling with hamsters is a pill. They gnaw and claw at their shoebox. They squeal and violently tinkle. One of them chewed right through the cardboard wall. Smart bugger! Escape artist! My mother threw a fit when she saw him. “What in God’s name is that?” she shrieked. “You’re thirty-four years old, Dennis!” You should have seen her face. The jealousy!
As a pack leader I get all sorts of stares. I walk into rooms and immediately command attention. When people see me with my pack, they see a strong, self-assured man who can make his own decisions. A man who’s removed all emotional roadblocks and could easily be employed.
With my pack, I can visit city parks, mini-malls, or regular malls. I can visit large grocery stores and wander the aisles comfortably, not counting my steps or the emergency exits. Women pass me in the pet food section, then lean in toward their husbands and whisper, “Is that an alpha male?”
“Yes,” I tell them. “And this is the pack my Life Coach Terry told me to lead.”
I have no problem meeting people. At parties, I square my shoulders and confidently take up space. People notice my great posture. They want to know how a man can hold high his head while carrying around rodents. But I just smile, set down my mouse house, and tell them exactly what my Life Coach Terry tells me, “Anything is possible!”
Male friendships will emerge. As a pack leader I’ll soon form a close-knit group of guy friends. We’ll email throughout the day, exchanging links, hilarious memes, and craigslist mini-bike ads. We’ll hang out in masculine basements and watch movies on sixty-inch TVs. Movies inspired by real-life Navy SEALs! And we’ll do athletics. We’ll play frisbee golf, mini-golf, and other sports involving balls. We’ll make risky bets where the loser has to do something ridiculous in the parking lot. Something traditionally feminine or wiener-related. But, because I’m a pack leader, I’ll never lose. I’ll stand back and watch as my male friends argue, call names, and chuck their putters into the course’s man-made waterfall. Then, I’ll lean down and explain to my pack exactly what’s happening. And I’ll never feel alone.
As a pack leader, my whole life will change.
Tiffy will come back. She’ll call and leave a message on my mother’s machine, explaining how she’s heard about my partying, improved posture, and multiple male friendships. She’ll say that she’s come to her senses and realized that “life skills” are no reason to dump your husband. And I’ll totally agree. I’ll tell Tiffy that I love her, then get down on both knees and ask her to re-marry me. We’ll cry like babies over the phone. And then briefly have phone sex.
My guys will flip out! We’ll meet up for eats to celebrate. We’ll sit at a giant, u-shaped booth and order wings, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, and pizzas named after football positions. We’ll enjoy long, surface-level conversation about small engine repair and the War On Terror. And to everyone watching it’ll be obvious that I’m one of the guys. A man with no fear of small animals, tall women, or the future. The kind of man who can throw out the word “re-marriage” and get a response.
My self-esteem will skyrocket. I’ll head home to Tiffy who’ll be waiting for me at my mother’s house. She’ll take me in her strong arms. I’ll set down my pack and take her in mine. “What’s that?” she’ll ask. And I’ll whisper in her ear, “Everything you ever wanted.”
Front page image by Sarah Nichols.