You may have wondered, as I have, why men get that particular abdomen fat around the age of 35 or 40. I always assumed this was some natural part of aging, like wrinkles or grumpiness. But in fact, I have discovered, the reason is behavioral.
When you discover you’re going to be a dad, you become obsessed with accounting. You start to wonder where the money’s going. You go around turning off unused lights. You silently condemn the fruit for going moldy. You get up in the middle of the night to make sure the air conditioning isn’t running. You become Harry Warner, picking up nails on the studio lot and handing them to carpenters to re-use.
And so when you go out to dinner, and your wife or (I’m assuming, eventually) your child orders a burger and fries and then eats half a burger and four French fries, you quietly pull the plate over to you and eat a semi-sandwich and ten or fifteen fries that you didn’t order, because GODDAMMIT I’M PAYING FOR THIS AND SOMEBODY’S GOING TO EAT IT.
I wonder whether GODDAMMIT I’M PAYING FOR THIS AND SOMEBODY’S GOING TO EAT IT creeps into other areas of life, too. Someday in the not too distant future, long after we’ve abandoned cloth diapering for environmentally disastrous, uncomfortable, and expensive disposables, I’ll be using every last tri-fold as a shop cloth (while changing the oil on my twenty-year-old truck that is still PERFECTLY FINE, goddammit). Not long after that, I’ll be taking the antibiotics we couldn’t get down my son’s throat for his ear infections. I won’t even be sick — I’ll just plop them in my seltzer water like little anti-microbial lime wedges.
And even when we’ve made it over the hump, and we’ve gone from scrabbling minimum wagers to professionals of moderate wealth and security, you may find me in the back yard, riding my goddamned pony while my daughter is inside, watching videos of ponies on the internet.