Thursday, July 02, 2009

The SAHD Truth: The Man Date

If you're going to be a stay-at-home dad, one thing I have to prepare you for is the man date. Not long into your tenure as a SAHD, your wife, sister, mother, and female friends will start to set you up with other stay-at-home dads. Needless to say, you will not be comfortable with this. But the women in your life will imagine you sitting at home in your pajamas all day without anyone to talk to, and will seek to set you up with other stay-at-home dads for play-dates. The men in your life will do no such thing because one, they will agree with you that it sounds a little weird, and two, they think that sitting at home all day in your pajamas sounds great.

There are a few ways to delay the man date set-ups, but make no mistake, they are an inevitability. If the girls think you are starting to lose your mind, be prepared for the set-up. And no, they won't set you up with stay-at-home moms - they will think that's as weird as what your guy friends think about setting you up with men. Here are some ways to delay them:

  • Change out of your pajamas and wear big boy clothes. Every day. You never know when someone is going to stop by.
  • Don't sing, hum, or whistle the theme song to Olivia around other people.
  • If you get suspended from XBox Live for smack talking and berating a nine-year-old, don't tell anyone.
  • Don't take pictures of your child and add silly captions before uploading them onto the internet, like this:
  • Don't dress your child as a punk rocker, a pirate, a super hero, a ninja, bat-mite, or any character from cartoons you loved growing up. No one will think it's as cool as you do. Except for the ninja. That's pretty cool.
  • Don't start paying attention to the decor in your house. If you start having a real opinion on color schemes and whatnot, your wife will freak out.
  • Actually fix things that are broken in your house. This might make your wife more comfortable with your staying at home, though I've yet to try this technique.
  • Don't bring your angry dad voice into the real world, like when you ask for paper bags and the guy pulls out plastic: "I SAID PAPER! Look at me! Paper bags. 1... 2... Good job."

As you can imagine, there are plenty of ways to convince others that you're not losing your mind from staying at home with your children. Unfortunately, the time will come when the requests for man-dates start pouring in. You can probably stall your way out of most of them with promises to call or email them, but eventually you will be at a picnic or school function where someone who has "just been dying to introduce you to Steve" thanks her lucky stars that you and Steve are finally in the same place at the same time. Your wife will, for the first time you can remember, volunteer to watch all the kids so that you and Steve can get to know one another. Steve, you notice, is going through the same kind of discomfort you are.

Start by making sure you both have a beer, and then get to the important stuff, like how the local sports team is doing and whether that trade was a good idea. Let that conversation move into where you two grew up and went to school, how you know your mutual friend, and how things have been staying at home. Pretty smooth so far, but don't be too quick to start talking about video games, even though all you'd really need a friend for these days is for someone to play hockey against on your vintage Sega Genesis. It'll come, my friend. It'll come.

In developing our small group of close friends, we men have had a lifetime of meeting guys that we just don't like very much, or not enough to count them as close friends. And we assume that all the guys we haven't met yet fall into the don't like category, simply because we have pretty high standards of what a close friend is. It's a long way from "I think you'll like Steve, he's a really nice guy" to knowing you'd put your life on the line for Steve if it came to that, and that he'd do the same for you. The women in your life won't understand this. They think they're just finding you someone you can chat with at the playground.


Alex said...

Haha! There I days I think I am losing my mind but it's good to know that all my signs and symptoms are normal for us SAHD.

Thankfully my wife has yet to set me up on any man dates thanks to her knowing I'm a bit of a recluse. I do crave for adult interaction now and then but she's nice enough to let me make my own arrangements.

Awesome post. :)

Ernie said...

It's always good to have your toddler nearby when forced into a Man Date, that way you can just bolt after the child at a moments notice without much explanation and there really isn't any expectation that you have to rejoin the conversation.

In case the toddler behaves nicely, come prepared with tantrum-inducing tactics.

If no toddler is available, talk about Fantasy Football...that will either turn into a lengthy and productive conversation or make the other man uncomfortable enough to find his own way out.