Mr. Softie = Me
You can always tell the size of the doghouse I’m in by what type of movie my wife uses to inflict her retribution.
When I’ve stepped in a small pile, I’m merely shackled to a breezy rom-com. But if I’ve really messed up? If groveling is in order? Punishment comes in the form of the dreaded movie musical.
I loathe musicals. Always have. Why sing when you can, ya know, use your words?
Then it happened... during Into the Woods, the musical adaptation of Brother Grimm tales. Cinderella was there and so were Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel. But it was Meryl Streep’s witch who got me.
When Streep’s conflicted character started singing “Stay with Me” to her daughter—a song teeming with heartbreaking themes of parental worries and abandonment, I totally lost it. Tear ducts flooded; snot ran in streaks down my lip. I tried to shield my ugly-crying from my wife and play it cool, but out of the corner of my eye, I could see her gloating a little: “You gonna be okay there tough guy?”
It’s not a surprise that having a child changes your ideas of what constitutes “quality entertainment.” I’ve weathered the tempests of Calliou and Dora and Daniel the Dang Tiger. I’ve turned down the Replacements for Raffi.
But there’s something about a child that also will bring about changes at a much deeper level: While my little baby girl slept peacefully beneath the glow of her electronic aquarium dreaming of nothing more than Lego towers, a dirty dog, and baby animals at the zoo, downstairs Mr. Softie was weeping like a pageant contestant, thinking 20 years into the future and wondering things like, Will she still need me? What kind of man (or woman) will she love? How will she find her place in this often dangerous world without me holding her hand?
My once stoic and iron-clad insides had emulsified completely. I was miserable. I downloaded “Stay with Me” to my phone that very night, if only to remind myself to fight for every square inch of her childhood before she grows up and moves away and has me singing my own forlorn version of “Stay with Me” into the night.
“You know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby. Now try not to be embarrassed as you watch your daddy cryyyyyyyyy…”