Colonel had read somewhere that the question running through all of Updike's novels was 'what is a good man?' He liked that question, although he wasn’t sure anyone anywhere was asking it anymore.
He tolerated the intro video at church two Sundays ago, Father’s Day, but its ripples remained. Two kids on playground swings, a laughing little girl and a sad faced boy of matching age. The boy asks is that your dad? Little girl giggles yes, he makes silly faces as the scene cut to a Peter Pan in a lime green polo hanging on the jungle gym acting like a monkey. The boy confesses my dad makes silly faces too and motions over his shoulder to a Men’s Warehouse model on a bench screaming into a cell phone while balancing a laptop on his knees. Colonel noticed the singular reaction of several poster families sitting near him: husband puts arm around wife and draws her close; wife dabs corners of eyes with tissue then puts head on husband’s shoulder; kids sit hollow-eyed.
The video presentation was followed by soft piano music and an invitation for the congregation to stand and pray silently for the men of our land. Colonel gingerly stepped into the aisle and headed for the men’s room. Head-usher-poster-family-dad Tim Winn winked at Colonel and whispered gotta go, huh? Colonel feigned a smile thinking you have no idea.
He spent an inordinate amount of time in the second stall, pondering the two ends-of-the-spectrum men in the video. He had zero affection for the connected 24/7 male but knew the tousle-haired metrosexual wouldn’t be worth a damn in a fight. And chances were good mr. monkey was up at 2am watching online porn while business suit was across town unable to sleep beneath the weight of providing. The slick video avoided the middle in favor of the ends, completely sidestepping ‘what is a good man?’ to pit man against man. As Colonel exited the stall, Tim Winn shook and zipped at the urinal like a zealot. The men met at the sinks. Tim adjusted his tie, winked at Colonel, and walked out. Colonel strongly believed a good man washes his hands.