One of my most vivid memories from my childhood is visiting my grandparents back when my uncle Tom was still in high school and living at home. To my eyes as a young child, Tom was terrifying – a huge, muscular teenager with athletic trophies littered throughout his room and often sporting a football jersey. I would always keep my distance from Tom, cautiously eyeing him, and hoping not to arouse his wrath. I never saw anything that would make a reasonable person assume that he was an angry or violent person, but I didn’t want to take any chances. At the time, it seemed that he might viciously slug me in the gut at any moment.
One particular thing about Tom sticks out in my mind, and this image has stuck with me through the years, shaping my dreams and desires as a man. You see, Tom ate cereal out of a Cool Whip bowl. Not the shallow little Cool Whip bowls, mind you, but the huge 32oz ones. So there was Tom with a massive basin of Alpha-Bits, eating with a spoon so big that it might have been better characterized as a ladle. This was the ultimate image of masculinity to my young eyes. I began to look forward to the day when I would be big enough for Mom to let me eat my food out of a Cool Whip bowl.
Sadly I still don’t feel ready to pick up the gauntlet laid down by Tom. I sit here a 25-year old college graduate, yet I don’t believe that I possess the smoldering masculinity and virility needed to pour my Golden Crisp into an empty dessert vat and begin shoveling the deliciously sweet puffed oats into my mouth with a spoon the size of my palm. Maybe someday the good Lord will allow me to reach the point that Tom did so long ago. On that day, I will know that at last I am truly a man.