Margaret stood with a nearly empty pie pan in one hand, and a pie server in the other. “Hm… why are men so angry? Basil, you better help Jon with that one. I’m not sure I know the answer.”
Gladys fingered the beads of her necklace. “I’ll take a stab at that one, if you don’t mind, Basil. I’m guessing men are angry because the women of today don’t need them like the women in my generation needed men. Men don’t feel essential. They want to be needed, and today’s women are bending over backwards to prove that they don’t need men.”
“Oh my! You might be right, Gladys. Pie dear?”
“No thanks, Margaret. What do you think, Basil? Do you think I’m close on that one?”
Basil reached for his thermos. “I’m gonna need more coffee for this one.” He poured some in his cup and passed the thermos to Margaret. “I don’t know much about men wanting to feel essential, as you put it. I don’t know if that crosses a man’s mind. I never woke up in the morning and set about wonderin’ if I was essential. But, I did feel better when I had a purpose. I liked having to take care of my family and keep the roof over our heads. So maybe you are right. I felt needed and that meant that I mattered, and that felt good. Not that I would admit to that, since in my day, men never talked about their feelings.”
“Well, I do think that we all want to know that we matter, don’t you Gladys?” Margaret took the thermos from Basil, poured the smallest bit in her cup and passed the thermos along.
“Life has gotten cushy for a lot of men.” Basil sipped from his cup. “They aren’t slaying dragons and rescuing damsels while sitting behind desks all day. Where’s the quest? Where’s the search when every day is spent in an office? I’d figure they ought to be even angrier.”
Jon leaned his board against a marker. “I never got to the point of being mad. I mean I guess I had that teenage anger thing going on, but that wasn’t like what you guys are talking about.”
Margaret took Jon’s empty pie plate. “That was hormones, dear.”
“Yeah, so I don’t think I understand why all the anger. I thought adults were supposed to have everything figured out.”
Gladys threw her head back and laughed. “That’s the greatest myth about adulthood – that we’re supposed to know all the answers. That’s the biggest disservice done to children. We just let them believe that once they are grownups, they’ll have everything figured out. Adulthood is childhood with more responsibilities, bigger issues and the complete lack of someone (a parent) to fix our messes.”
“Geez, Gladys. That sounds like I didn’t miss much by dying young.” Jon turned his board over to check for loose trucks.
“Don’t listen to her, Jon. She tends to be a bit of a curmudgeon. Gladys, dear, tell Jon of the benefits of being an adult.”
Gladys reached for a cigarette, “I’ll let Basil do the honors.”
“Well, Jon, I’m no expert, but it’s through responsibility that we realize our potential. Hell, I didn’t know I could be a decent husband and raise a family until I’d been doing it for a few years. Yeah, it’s work, but there is no greater joy in life, as far as I’m concerned. Gladys, maybe you’re bitter because you didn’t get that chance. If you don’t mind my saying so, you never knew what it was like to have your world revolve around someone besides yourself.”
Gladys snubbed her cigarette out in the dirt. “Margaret, is there any of that pie left? I think I’d like a slice.”
“Of course, dear. Basil didn’t mean to be hurtful with his comment. But it’s true that our surest way to a good life is when it stops being all about us.”
Jon grabbed his board. “So do you think they’re all angry because they spend so much time thinking about themselves? They think about how they don’t like their jobs, or they don’t like where they ended up. Maybe they ought to think less about themselves and more about others?”
“That’s pretty enlightened coming from a teenager. Damn, Margaret, this pie is incredible.” Gladys daintily used her fork to scrape up the rest of the filling from her plate.
“Thanks, Gladys. I think.” Jon looked up from spinning a wheel. “And what about women? Maybe they need to lighten up a little. Could they learn to accept a little help? Maybe they could learn to be part of a team instead of insisting they can do it all themselves. And as far as being mad at their moms – what’s the point? In the end, their anger is holding them back, and the moms are oblivious to the fact that they’ve upset their daughters. That’s a huge waste of energy.”
Basil tightened the lid on his thermos. “Well, son, with ideas like that, it’s a shame you didn’t stick around awhile to teach them all a thing or two.”
“Why spend all that time being angry when there is so much life to live? Just think of all the bowls to skate, trails to hike, hills to ski, and girls to love!” Jon hopped on his board and headed down the worn path.
Gladys yelled at him, “And pie to eat!”