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Three Looks

Two boys, who happen to share my last name, were engaged in a rather heated disagreement. (Perhaps they were discussing the value of the Electoral College?), when the younger of the two came up with a profoundly old-fashioned solution.

I believe he put it this way: "Let's fight."

Both lads immediately turned to me. Their look wasn’t so much a search for approval as it was an acknowledgment of fact. “We’re doing this—no matter what you say.” I had seen that look before, so I paused for a moment before blurting, “No swinging.”

My wife was immediately and utterly appalled. “No fighting! Stop them!” (This was evidently not how she and her sisters had resolved disagreements when they were kids.)

Before I could begin to explain why I believe that -- in a more perfect world all boys can verbalize each and every one of their disagreements and peacefully process all of their problems, but that occasionally, as long as there is not a great imbalance of power, and as long as both boys honestly want to engage, it’s OK to let them wrestle some truths to the ground – the two knuckleheads were already rolling in the grass.

My wife went running for the water hose in the hopes of dousing the combatants into a state of peace and equanimity. While she was searching for the UN of household accoutrements, the younger of the two was already displaying an impressive degree of energy and enthusiasm. Eventually though, the older brother won out, thus ensuring that the moral order of the universe would prevail, for at least another day.

As the two boys, now exhausted but in an apparently peaceful state of mind, walked away, I gave my wife a knowing and thoroughly self-satisfied look, a look that betrayed my thinking, “Power, you have such a deep and intuitive understanding of male adolescents. Perhaps this gift might someday lend itself to an article in ‘The Priory Press’ or another equally prestigious publication? I can see it now, ‘Power, the Boy Whisperer.’ Might someone then, in a splurge of creativity, turn this piece into a documentary? I wonder if we could get this done in time for the Sundance Film Festival?”

My momentary reverie, though, was immediately interrupted by a loud bang. It turned out that one of the combatants, still harboring some ill feeling, had impulsively decided to put his fist through a bedroom wall. The dream of “Power and Peace in Our time” dissipated, as I began to contemplate the cost of sheetrock.

The look my wife gave me at that particular moment suggested that, perhaps in hindsight, we might want to save the “Boy Whisperer” angle for a fall publication. My only consolation was the realization that we had already missed the deadline for Sundance.