I remember petunias. I remember a milk carton, halved. I remember asking my mother for the milk carton and keeping the secret to which I was sworn--she was not to know why--only that I was to be sent to school with it. No further questions would be entertained.
In kindergarten Miss Holk showed us how to cut our milk cartons in half and we tossed away the top and filled the bottom with dark black earth. And into the earth she planted a little purple flower. I learned this was a petunia.
When I got into the car to come home from school that day, I nearly spilled the petunia dirt all over the front seat as I thrust the flower into my mother's face, soaking in the look of amazement she summoned in accepting my gift, basking in the joy of having done something good.
So I learned about Mother's day, and I have not missed one since. Every year I find some sort of petunia to put under her nose, and she summons the same look of amazement. And I go back to my work hoping to whatever God that made me that what I did was good.
Some time after my first Mother's day I learned my mother was a woman and I was a male who would grow to be a man like my father. Men were different from women in important ways that run deep in our flesh. Somewhere inside that difference is the essence of our existence, and when I got older I learned that humans have been examining, reveling in the shadow of, and knocking their heads against that enigmatic stone since people were people.
But the important thing, as my mother would tell the adolescent me, was not the secret hidden behind our differences but that men loved women and women loved men and they loved their children, and I was her baby, and she would always love me. And when I grew up I would have children of my own, and I would love them, forever, pretty much.
"Mom, if today is Mother's day, and next month we have Father's day, when is MY day?" I asked her once.
Mom said, "Every day is your day." And that was it.
When I got old enough to understand my father's 1970's world, he once said he thought the whole issue of equality was nonsensical. There could be no equality between the sexes, because no matter how much women acted like men and men tried to treat them like men, they were women and capable of giving life to beings with immortal souls, which a man could never hope to do. But women loved men, and men loved women, and they all loved their children and I was his son and by the way, did I remember to get my mother a Mother's day gift?
To my father, general manager of a big factory for Kraft foods, that was it, forever, pretty much.
And now I am grown. I have three children, all women. And I have a woman for a wife. Even my dog is a girl. I am the only y chromosome-bearing mammal in my home and I've found that tomorrow is the International Woman's Day, and all I can say is hallelujiah for that. Glory be to women. My own mother was one, as are all the people closest to me.
Yet, the world is a complicated place. I'd like to think I'm a feminist. My feminism is very strong in me, so much so that Yoda, upon seeing it, would have to agree out loud. Bruce Lee would crumble at the mere glance of the brilliance of my feminism.
I am a feminist through horrible genetic bigotry. It's a belligerent idiocy I practice. A blazing simplification of all things and situations. You see, as far as I'm concerned, all women are my daughters.
That means I want the best for them. All of them. When some guy is mean to one, I practice the Arnold Schwarzenegger brand of feminism.
They get the, "Leaf my dauter alone or I will kill you hard I promise"--sort of feminism that real feminists loathe because it oozes the testosterone that makes little boys hit each other with dirt clods on the playground. But I can't help it. God filled me with testosterone so this sort of thing comes out. As much as I try to hide it, to be more feminine, I get these, these--feelings. This energy that has to be channeled.
Today I saw a show on the Science Channel. A woman from Australia had been born with a genetic defect that made her skull misshapen, so she looked very strange. Even ugly.
But she had the sweetest voice, and the sunniest eyes, and I wanted nothing more than for her to be beautiful. I want all women to be beautiful. I would go get a second job at a convenience store to help pay for her surgery, if it hadn't already been done and put on television.
I'm just a guy. I'm trying to understand. I'm trying to understand why my attitude is so offensive to women. I'm trying to understand why my daughters look at me and go, "Awww, dad..." and then look to their mother for explanations.
They don't see the need for machine guns and flame throwers. When I cut down row after row of ill-intentioned suitor wannabes, they shrink in nausea.
"But it's just a bunch of guys..." I would say, loving women and wanting to protect them. Every one of them.
This must be how a german shepherd feels. This must be how a doberman pincher feels guarding a junkyard. He just wants to help. He just wants to be loved for doing what his brain tells him is right.
It's the sort of violence versus nurture thing that makes people who wear mu-mus and tie-dye call other people barbarians, but I'm the kind of guy with a woman for a mother who knows every day is his day, and that his mother loves him forever, pretty much. I'm the kind of guy with three daughters who wants them to live the kind of lives they want without hinderance, who wants them to have the same opportunities he had.
I'm the kind of dog who on International Women's Day says to all the other dogs, just try it. Go on. Go try to hurt a woman. You watch what happens. Try to oppress them. Try to strike them. Try to keep them from living their dreams. Go ahead.
Because, you sons of bitches out there, International Women's Day is the one day that is not my day and it is not your day. It's their day, and they don't understand this piece of us. So let's go. Raise a fist. Nothing would make me happier than tearing you to ribbons and feasting on your liver. I'd love to play badminton with your distended stomach.
They have no idea what makes us like this, but they know we're like this and so we'll never be equal to them. We'll always be different.
I love my women, forever, pretty much.
So you oppressive, bigoted, misogynistic assholes have a choice.
You can either get your milk carton and plant your petunia, or I can come over there, eviscerate your sorry asses, and grind you into bone meal for my mom's roses.
Because tomorrow, it goes back to being my day, and that's the only thing you understand.