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Hook, Line and Sinker

By Tony Hooker
Alpha Male
“The alpha male is the boss. He eats first, has his pick of mates, and leads the pack during hunts and when dealing with threats to survival. When challenged for top position by a young pretender, the alpha male either will concede immediately or fight to retain his position, depending on his age and health.”—Animals.mom.com

We’re talking about wolves, right? Or are we?

On Memorial Day, Mrs. HLS and I were invited to the oldest male offspring’s abode for a cookout. For the very first time, I wasn’t the lord of the grill as the boy assumed control of the coals. He did a great job. The ribs and corn on the cob were cooked to perfection. Everything was as it should be. The conversation was lively, the laughs were genuine, and that’s when it hit me. My spot at the head of the cooking fires, earned through decades of Kingsford, propane tanks and, lately, wood pellets, was no longer 100 percent mine. The crown prince had carved out a section of the kingdom for himself, and I wasn’t too sure how to respond. On the one hand, I have to admit that it was pretty great watching someone else fritter about, constantly checking and re-checking the coals, meat temps and such, for a change. He did things his own way, and it took all my self-restraint not to offer him pointers that are based on my decades of experience, and that I was sure he was just dying to hear. (queue derisive laughter from Mrs. HLS!) On the other hand, if I’m no longer needed to be the grill master, what good am I? The Mrs. Has always been the bond that holds the family together. She’s like Gorilla Glue on steroids when it comes to that, while I’m more like the paste we used to eat in kindergarten, the kind that barely kept the construction paper turkey together long enough to give to our mom at Thanksgiving. The youngest has already taken over my “drive mom when the weather’s bad” duty, so for a minute there I felt like all of the things that make me useful around the house had been taken over by my younger, smarter, much better-looking offspring. And then I remembered my superpowers. I am still the undefeated world champion at bug/spider/wasp squishing, and as far as I can tell, no one from the royal family is trying to usurp that crown. I can still load a dishwasher to its limits, and yes, I can fit in “one more glass or plate,” always. I am not too sure that the offspring were even aware of the fact that we had a dishwasher back in the day, given the way they so studiously avoided opening it. 

So, I guess I’ll get used to the idea of not being the host site and alpha male for all family gatherings, moving forward. The truth is that both of my sons far surpassed my culinary skills a long time ago, and I’m ok with that, I guess. Now, about that dishwasher. Did you know that I have the perfect system for loading? It’s a skill that’s taken me decades to perfect, and I’m just dying to tell you all about it.

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