Man lessons

There was a flurry of activity lin our backyard late Thursday evening. One minute Herr Johnson was raking and trimming living things. The next, he was hoisting concrete blocks, constructing something. A fire pit, of all things, I noted.

‘Why did you build a fire pit’ I asked him once the boys were asleep, in between rounds of Bejeweled Blitz. It was perplexing really, since we’re (mostly me) not exactly camper-types. And the boys and I aren’t huge fans of sitting in smoke. Something about that lingering smell that clings to everything for days afterwards. Oh, and the way it burns your eyes and makes you cough.

‘I don’t know, for educational purposes,’ he responded matter of factly. I threw him a quizzical look while waiting for my Bejeweled score to be tallied. ‘I thought the boys and I could sit there and have some man lessons,’ he explained. .

‘Man lessons?’ I questioned/clarified. ‘Are you going to talk to them about the birds and the bees or something?’ I could hear the look of horror forming on his face.

‘Uh, maybe that will be like lesson 30,’ he retorted before explaining ‘I thought I could show them the safe way to make a fire….not the unsafe/weird/open way other people do it….and then we could roast marshmallows one night….and put our tent out there the next…..’

And it all sounded very adorable and Little House on the Prairie-ish. But, come on, maybe that would work with other people’s children. Not ours.

From the minute he got up on Friday morning, our oldest talked about the campfire they were going to build. Shortly. I tried to explain that Daddy wasn’t going to build a fire until it was night-time. Not at ten o’clock in the morning. Finally around 5pm, out of ideas for entertaining the troops, it was fire time. Except we didn’t have any marshmallows or accoutrements. And I knew my oldest would not forget the promise of a roasted marshmallow.

So I drove to Safeway while the man-folk set about the arduous task of building a fire. The whining had started before I’d even left the house. And, when I returned, the troops were in fine form. The Hen wanted to eat his smore ingredients right away. His brother wanted to roast a marshmallow by holding it five feet above the fire. The fire had died and needed to be resuscitated. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth. Smoke everywhere. All while I stood transfixed, holding my plate of smore ingredients. Incapable of doing anything else.


With all the commotion, the first two mallows were blistered, black.


The Hen took his without a fuss. But I could tell Mr. G was torn: accept a burnt marshmallow, or wait for a not-so-burnt one? Greed won out and he took the crispy mallow. But it was our Hennie’s first time with a smore, I think. Judging from the way he took the sandwich apart and got gooey marshmallow all over his upper arm. Not sure how that happened. He’d eat a bite, throw a fit about his sticky fingers and limbs, eat another, throw a fit. And so it went.


G was sitting on his wooden stool, eating lustily, while complaining loudly whenever the smoke would get in his eyes. ‘Here’s your man lesson,’ his father instructed. ‘Get up and move around, away from the fire.’

Not quite the warm and fuzzy campfire scene he’d envisioned, I’m sure.

8 thoughts on “Man lessons


    My friend posted about this blog and I thought you could check it out. I guess you have to e-mail them your name dilemma (I’m assuming you still have one..) and then they will post about it and respond. Sorry this has nothing to do with your current post. πŸ™‚ I never liked that lingering smoke smell either….

  2. Nicely done. I’ve been wanting to sit around a fire myself, although I could do without the forearm marshmallow smear.

  3. I’m very curious: if lesson 1 in “manhood” is about fire and lesson 30 is about sex, what are lessons 2-29? Do tell. Is there a manhood guidebook? Lesson plan? πŸ™‚

  4. Shawn, I was there and I still don’t know how that little person got marshmallow on his arms. Vicky, Uh, I think the curriculum is being written ‘as we go’…like most professors do πŸ™‚

  5. Chapter 15 is a viewing of The Big Lebowski and City Slickers… just so they can perfect their man to man banter in various situations….. the rest is a closely held secret much like the woman lessons that teach going to the bathroom in herds and the need to have in depth conversations at crucial moments during sporting events….

  6. Ah, *now* I understand, Jason. So there will be lessons as well on ‘why we always leave the toilet seat up’ and ‘Shaving 101: never ever wash the shaved hairs out of the sink’ and ‘Cooking: If recipe calls for a pat of butter, use a stick’ or, ooh, sure to be a favorite: ‘Being sick: How to act like the common cold is a life-threatening illness’ πŸ™‚

    1. Those are all covered in the advanced courses. First you have to build up the confidence to pull all of those off..


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