Grenade

Posted: March 11, 2013 in Family

While driving back from work last week, I was listening to a song by Bruno Mars called ‘Grenade’. I hadn’t paid attention to the lyrics before, but since I was trying to get past traffic, and thus had some spare time to get home, I listened a little more closely this time.

As you may imagine by the title, it’s about a guy who would catch a grenade for another person (and various other forms of punishment that he would take). But he asks himself, would this other person do the same for him? It appeared, again by the lyrics, that it seemed unlikely that the other person would actually reciprocate. And yet…..he likely would still take the grenade.

It got me to thinking – would I take a grenade for someone? The answer seemed simple at first. I would take a grenade for my wife and kids, for sure. I would do that and smile while doing it. After that, the list gets a little blurry, and complicated. And so, while waiting for the light to turn green, I took this thought a little further… and it occurred to me that I had been taking grenades for people all my life already!

As a husband and father, you often have to ‘take the grenade’ for your family. I know that perhaps that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but allow me to offer up an example: have any of you out there taken the blame for a fart when it wasn’t yours, just to protect the person who actually did it? I have… plenty of times. All too often, if you ask me. I’ve provided ‘cover coughs’ for someone who had to toot, and couldn’t do so in silence. If that isn’t an example of taking the grenade for someone, then what is?

Being from a family where I was the fifth of five kids, let’s just say that the pecking order was established early and often. I think of the old drawing of the little fish swimming along, while a bigger fish is about to swallow it. An even bigger fish is following that one, while an even bigger fish is fallowing that one….and so on.  I, being the little fish, ended up being blamed for a lot of things. I took the grenade for my brother so often that I should have been receiving monthly cheques. I have taken the grenade for any number of other indiscretions for my other siblings many times. Sure, I was paid in snacks and pop, so I suppose they can say we’re even.

There is, however, one shining example of grenade-taking that I hold near and dear in my heart. It would be the trophy-on-the-mantle grenade moment (actually ‘moments’) of taking the fall for someone else. It happened early, and I wish I could say it didn’t happen often, but I took it in the name of family unity, and maintaining the family pecking order.

When we were kids, we went to church regularly. Sunday morning church services, followed by a nice lunch and usually a leisurely day to cap off your week. Those were the days. But it was at church, however, that the grenade moment occurred. I always was seated beside my mom. With all these other kids, and a husband, to choose from, I somehow still ended up beside her. Was it because I didn’t behave, you ask? No. Was it because I couldn’t sit still, perhaps? Nope.

So, imagine yourself, sitting on these oak pews. Everything is going swimmingly. It’s all quiet. There’s a slight breeze from the ceiling fans. You start to daydream about what you’re going to do after lunch: perhaps go swimming, maybe play tag or baseball, or any number of things we kids did back then. All of a sudden, your mother ‘accidentally’ farts on the hardwood, which makes a sound not unlike an old door swinging open that needs to be oiled. As everyone turns to see who did this, you get bopped on the head, as if it was you who couldn’t hold it in. ‘Billy!’, they’d say…’how could you!’. Admittedly, the first couple of times this happened, I was a little perplexed. But, it was explained to me then, by being the youngest in the clan, I had less to lose by being perceived as the fartist.

This continued on for a couple of years, until I got smart enough to avoid sitting beside my mother by becoming an altar-boy. A person’s got to do what he’s got to do.

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