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  • My quiet son began football just before 7th grade. Social order, self worth, and emerging masculinity were hanging in the balance, of course. After the athletic meeting, then the other athletic meeting, then retrieving daughter from the neighbor’s, then dinner (husband absent just this one night, I can do this) and forms to fill out and various matters of personal hygiene for three children and me, (I hate to complain, my life is not hard, understand. We have food and shelter and so many things.) After all of this and after 9:00, I was presented with the uniform to wash before the first game. Up to this time I was unaware that football playing involved girdles! How tender. When I opened the washer there was a natty mess of shredded and glue-like nylon, my first hint that I had slammed the girdle into the door and ruined the way the world should be. My silent son stood fast, worked to not let his chin tremble while I drug out first the sewing machine, then the needle and thread and made Frankenstein out of the girdle. He bore it all nobly, the kid with so little aggression it was hard to imagine him tackling, for instance. Everyone was still awake, 10:30 on a school night when I emailed the coach, to explain that I had wrecked the school-issue football undies. “I promise, I promise I am really good at understanding depth and complexity of emotion. I am fairly adept with the principles of theory of criticism. I can make a flourless chocolate torte that will make you cry. But, I am sorry to be communicating so late in the game, so to speak, that padded nylon football shorts proved beyond me. Is it possible you’ll give the kid another pair?”
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