School’s out for summer, and that means fraternity life at the Zeta Theta Theta (ZΘΘ) House is in full swing. Personally, I have no problem believing we humans share 99% of our DNA with the apes.
Rush Week in the primate cage is what you get when you throw together 17, 19 and 21 year-old territorial, testosterone-saturated brothers who aren’t used to sharing the same living space. They screech, pound their chests, burp, practice various olfactory assault techniques on innocent passersby, trash the kitchen and endlessly debate the age-old question, “Who da man?”
So far, they haven’t flung any dung at each other, but it’s only early June.
Eyegal thinks this is all wonderful, that her boys are still “cute” and “adorable,” just like those early 90s urchins in the VHS tapes that’s she’s been busy transferring to DVD the past few weeks. Oh sure, I was right in there with her back then, holding each of them up to the heavens “Lion King” style like they were God’s gift to the savanna and dishing out more corny first birthday party banter than Iowa has silos.
But that was then, and this is now.
I love Eyegal to pieces, and I’m really looking forward to celebrating our 25th anniversary in a couple of weeks, but honestly, I think the old girl is starting to lose it.
It is not the early 90s, and they are no longer cute. We are a full decade into the 21st century, and they are smelly, farty thieves. There is nothing of mine they won’t pilfer and “borrow”: clothes (including my new US National Soccer Team jersey), shampoo, razors, nail clippers, the candy I have hidden in my sock drawer (not well enough, apparently), and Mexican leftovers clearly marked “DAD!!”
You’ve heard of The Rule of Benedict that they use to keep order and harmony in monasteries? Well, this is sort of like its evil, antithetical twin. Instead of ora et labora (“pray and work”) it’s more like holla et sonora (“yell and sleep”).
Oh sure, they have a few redeeming qualities. Numbers Two and Three Sons can actually cook a little (although they have yet to master the art of kitchen cleanup), and when Eyegal skipped town last week and R-U-N-N-O-F-T on one of her Ya Ya Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants trips, I didn’t starve. And if my iPhone ever needs jail-broken or I need to know the aerodynamic specs on the latest Frisbee golf disc, then Number One Son is most definitely “da man.”
Yeah, yeah, I know, I’ll miss the “pitter patter of little feet” when they’re gone for good, yada yada. But what exactly does “gone for good” really mean these days? Should I be concerned that they’ve taken to throwing boomerangs in the backyard and that they’re actually getting quite good at it?
Recently I heard someone ask a group of parents of mostly elementary and middle school children: Which is more important, “nature” or “nurture?” A large majority raised their hands for “nurture.” I leaned over to Eyegal and said, “They’re still suffering from the illusion of control.”
You see, one thing I have noticed from watching some of those old videos is that the die was cast pretty early on. The same personality quirks and charms that were evident in all that footage of first steps and first birthday parties are still pretty much in place, just like the dimples and hair color. You can try to trim the edges and shape things as much as you can, but you’re still stuck with the same bolt of cloth that you started out with.
Which, relatively speaking, isn’t all that bad. As I’ve often been told, “Dad, you don’t know how good you got it.”
I try to repeat that phrase over and over every morning when I have to move their fleet of cars from the driveway so I can get to work.