Harold's Boys : Observations, Opinions, and Outright Lies from amid the Chaos

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-09-27
  • Publisher: Textstream
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If there is one thing Mark Gaedtke does not want to do in life, it is to imagine his parents being romantic with each other. Yet as he reminisces about how he grew up in an old farmhouse in northern Wisconsin, Gaedtke cannot help but reflect on how his God-fearing mother and relentlessly sociable father managed to find the time to create six males and still get dinner on the table every night. In his collection of amusing recollections of his youth in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, Gaedtke strives to find the answers to life's most elusive questions-such as why he considered taking a fire extinguisher to his senior prom; why he changed the name of his baseball glove from Old Yeller to Old Banana Peel; And why that beefy linebacker snarled like a jaundiced badger. As he details the events of his childhood, Gaedtke shares entertaining tales about how he fed his passion for knife throwing with the help of his father's screwdrivers and survived the steel-toed saddle shoe incident and birthday gifts from his parents who were obviously trying to kill him. Harold's Boys seeks to encourage others to look at their youth in an entirely different way-and realize that all our crazy experiences are what made us the harebrained fools we are today.


Sisterless by Divine Intervention Experts agree that in the process of raising our parents it's often better to ignore minor attention-getting behavior, concentrating instead upon the greater issues. For example, in the interest of family harmony, my brothers and I tolerated some amount of fingernail polish and the wearing of some less-than-masculine nightwear, with no apparent ill effects. (Our therapists are in full agreement on this.) To be honest, those issues were more problematic for our dad than for us. Our father, a navy man, was extremely proud of his crew of sons, and he made sure that once we became toddlers Mom bought our pajamas at Sears rather than Victoria's Secret. He needn't have worried, for two reasons. Not only were all six of the brothers manly, macho-type stud muffins, but secondly, I've found that all those lacy little pieces take forever to iron. The problem soon took care of itself as we each grew into long, lanky, wiry-haired boys with a penchant for forgetting "bath night." By our fourth birthdays Mom had given up on the hope of raising a genteel son, much less a feminine one. After all, as The Ed Sullivan Show had taught us, "You can put a tutu on a monkey and you'll probably get a lot of laughs, but, when all is said and done you're still dealing with a monkey, and a slightly dysfunctional one at that." As we grew up we eventually learned that our mother had no more control over her chromosomes than she had over us. With this came the realization that the fact of our gender was due more to the grace of God than anything else. Now, before all you women decide to go out and start burning your undergarments in protest, let me say this. I have absolutely nothing against women. In fact, my best friend in the world is a woman. I am also reasonably certain that her best friend in the world is also a woman. Somehow I seem to have been left out of that loop, but I guess I have to learn to be okay with that. Although I have great love and respect for females in general, I simply didn't want one for a sister. I felt this way because I didn't want to see her get hurt. You see, I believe God knew that my mother had originally hoped for daughters, as she was forever bugging him about it. As a matter of fact, she was so confident in the power of prayer that she'd already picked out several daughter names, and, of course, God knew them all, although I can't imagine his having liked any of them. Names like Pearl and Opal and Marcella Mae, etc.—all lovely enough names just a century or two ago, but to my generation these names almost certainly would've been an open invitation to a severe beating in some high school hallway, possibly from a teacher. To make matters worse, my brothers and I are all what you might consider to be big men (or small gorillas), each one well over six feet tall, 250 pounds, with big, broad shoulders, long arms, and legs that resemble telephone poles with hinges. I can't help but believe it would be very difficult for a woman to live in that kind of body. In fact, it's no picnic for us. And, although the Tomahawk High School football team could always use a six-foot-three-inch linebacker who weighs a deuce and a half and runs the forty in 4.5 seconds—an uncaged animal that arrives at the scene of the tackle with the disposition of a jaundiced badger—I don't think they would ideally want her to be named Opal. And so, for all of those reasons and so many more, I believe God, in his infinite wisdom, gave Harold and Eve Gaedtke six sons. To much of the community, we didn't even have individual names. We were known simply as Harold's boys, and to our way of thinking that was more than good enough.

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