Who is that mysterious stranger?

I’ve written before about the perils of “stranger danger,” but the fact is, for stay-at-home dads, often we seem to be the dangerous strangers.

You notice it at the playground when you wander in with your kid. The moms simultaneously keep their distance and hover over their little darlings — not-entirely-compatible dual agendas necessitated, apparently, by the uncertain direction in which we’ll head once we inevitably whip our dicks out while straddling the see-saw.

It’s OK, moms. We won’t tell anybody that you’ve been texting your friends while your kids eat stale Doritos off the ground at the bottom of the slide.

And at various activities, in the parental holding pens, the moms chat among themselves while trying to pretend that we’re not perched on the folding chair next to them with our canvas-and-leather-goddamn-it-it’s-masculine kiddy bags on our laps.

Of course, there’s a reason. Stay-at-home dads are still a relative rarity, though increasingly common. What to make of us remains a bit of a dilemma for some women. And, yes, there’s a sexual-tension element. Never mind that lesbian moms might hit on them too; that almost never happens, while getting hit-on by guys is a regular event. An unknown guy in the vicinity with apparent free time on his hands might well turn out to be an unwelcome annoyance (if we’re really welcome … that’s a separate problem). Even if some moms don’t fear that we’re gonna get all octo-handy with the first woman that chats us up, they don’t want to look over-friendly to the rest of the herd.

Frankly, bridging the gap often requires an introduction from a female — either our wives or existing women friends. That makes us safe(ish).

Of course, bridging that gap might be a hazard of its own. When I finally achieved “safe” status among the observer seats at Tae Kwon Do, it engendered an extended conversation that kept me from a gripping chapter in the latest novel I’d tossed in that rugged man-bag of mine.

But … Hell. Controlling timing in life is just a lost cause.

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