The Beginnings and Endings of Being a Man

            When I came home from school today, I could feel my right shoelace coming untied as I bounded up the driveway and tapped my foot waiting for the garage door to open, and when it finally did, I kneed into my Dad’s car and the warmth of a new bruise came with me into the kitchen where my Dad was sitting with elbow resting on table and head resting in open palm, no doubt waiting to hear the news that I had asked out Suzy Goldman today and that she, wearing a dress of powder-blue that finished just below the wrinkle in her knee, had become my first girlfriend shortly thereafter, news that brought no reaction out of my Dad until his eyes closed and his lips pursed and the lines in his forehead became new carvings, and he reached his hand out for mine, locked his fingers about my fingers and brought me onto his lap, which I had outgrown, where I could feel his heart pounding against my back.  My shoelace flopped down from my shoe, curled itself and rested on the wood floor.  He held air in his lungs for a moment when I asked where Mom was, and then emptied himself of that air with an answer, that Mom was gone and he didn’t know when she’d be back, and he unclutched my hand and held his head, and I slid off his lap and put my hand on his knee and asked if this meant I was a man now, and he looked at me with dead, moist eyes and said of course