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I write about masculinity, fatherhood, family, and relationships.

I gave him a good life, but I also give him a hard time. It’s a balance.

Photo: AHPhotoswpg/Getty Images

There’s been a meme floating around for a month or two that shows a row of five numbered chicken wings, each one a little more stripped of meat than the last. Number one has a single small bite taken out of it; number five looks like it’s been dug up by a paleontologist. The punchline is that you can tell a lot about someone’s upbringing based on the amount of meat left on the bone.

My 11-year-old son and I both love wings, but we are on opposite ends of this chart. On the cleaned chicken bone scale, I’m…

Around 1998, I nearly got myself killed in a skydiving accident. Years before, I’d completed Army Airborne school. At Fort Campbell, I did some off-duty jumps from Blackhawk helicopters. But these were “static line” jumps. The parachute is connected to a cable in the plane so the jumper doesn’t pull his own chute. Years later I decided to do a “real” skydive. I refused a tandem jump because I thought it beneath me.

I jumped out and couldn’t get stable in freefall. By the time I did, I was far from the landing zone. I then assumed my altimeter was malfunctioning because surely it had only taken me a few seconds to stabilize myself…

It had taken much more.

When I finally pulled my chute, I was headed towards a highway. I landed on the shoulder, nearly crashing into a barbed-wire fence.

And never jumped again.

Would you?

I won’t wear a shirt for a road race that I didn’t do. Over the years, I’ve come in damn near last in dozens of 5k, 10K, and half-marathon races…

I learned how to walk down the street from a book. I was always big for my age. But I grew up in a rough neighborhood where I was also nerdy and awkward. I couldn’t walk to the store or to school without attracting some kind of harassment. In fifth or sixth grade, I read a book on self-defense at the library. And it said that the best way to avoid trouble was to not look like a target. It suggested walking “with a sense of purpose.” I decided to try it.

And the bullying stopped so suddenly that it seemed like magic.

To this day, I love books. And libraries.

And people still get the hell out of my way.

I hate parades. Always have. I think it started when I was about 9 years old. A fairly notorious politician campaigned in my neighborhood by tossing candy from a parade float that we kids were supposed to pick up from the ground. I was insulted.

Also, they are boring.

Why do you like them?

I took off my mask for the first time.

Yesterday, after studiously following CDC guidelines and local laws, I went to the grocery store without a mask for the first time in well over a year. I was fully vaccinated in April, my wife was fully vaccinated in May, and my son was fully vaccinated this month.

And I have to admit that not wearing a mask felt almost illicit. If felt reckless. Irresponsible. But mostly, it felt free.

Here’s to getting back to normal.

When You’re a Decent Writer, But an Amazing Backseat Driver

Went on a road trip with a friend last week. He manned the wheel as I finished up a piece that was coming due. Every time he changed lanes, I would look up from my work, body tensed, prepared to save us from certain death.

His driving was a great distraction from the thorny structural problems of my essay.

I can’t remember how many times I shouted, “You change lanes more often than I change perspectives in this article!” or “If only my writing was as exciting as your driving!”

He somehow found it annoying. But each time I saved us, I found myself ready to tackle my problem anew, my competence in the area of backseat drivery fueling my writing.

I can’t wait to go on another road trip with him. As soon as he starts returning my calls.

Just save me the big piece of chicken, tbh

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Father’s Day is almost here, and you know what that means: Prepare to unwrap another pair of socks!

Sure, you might get lucky and get something good — some cigars, that broadsword you’ve wanted since you were a kid — but I wouldn’t count on it. These are, after all, gifts usually given to you by your children filtered through your significant other.

But you love them, so you’ll smile and say thank you for the house slippers or the drink coaster set that the many rings on your coffee table prove you never use. …

The pros and cons of raising a preteen

Photo by Kaysha on Unsplash

I was trolling TikTok for laughs one day when I stumbled upon a video of a guy doing a “review” of his newborn baby boy. This dude was visibly delighted with his two-month-old offspring — he said the boy only cost him a few “grown-up transactions” — and encouraged others to get one, too.

Now, I got a good chuckle from the breakdown, which played like an unboxing video. That’s a shiny new baby, fresh out of the box. What’s not to like?

Of course, he’s cute. A baby alligator is cute. And like a baby alligator, a baby…

Chris L. Robinson

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