“Daddy, what was that?”
Noah’s voice was shaky and backed with legitimate fear. I had sent him to bed some twenty minutes before, and now he stood peeking from around the wall behind me, balancing the need to know what strange new thing had just scared him at the same time he was trying not to get himself into trouble for being out of bed.
Moments before, the entire apartment had shaken for a good 10-15 seconds, hard in at a repeated rhythm. It did so with a magnitude of vibration I have heard and felt only a handful of times in my life. Someone with sub woofers the size of submarines had just driven past our complex, yanked my kid out of his almost slumber, and now Noah was out of bed, standing behind me, wondering what the heck it was. “Daddy, what was that?”
I turned around and motioned him to come over for a comforting squeeze. He did so. The squeeze was given. His tension melted. “Was that kind of scary sounding?” I asked him.
“My whole bed shaked and it kind of felt like my whole bed was gonna fall over.” He said it with a resilient laugh to back it this time. “What was that anyway, Daddy?”
I looked at him. I remembered that this place was just as new and in a thousand different ways scarier for him than it was for me. And I told him the truth.
“Well, son… That was… Testosterone.”
“Testosterone? What’s testosterone?” he asked.
“Testosterone is a funny thing. You see, just like all animals, men like to have sex.”
(Yes, Noah and I have had the sex talk already. The kid is in the know as is evidenced by the way he elbows me and grins whenever he picks up on innuendo wherever we go.)
Noah giggled. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. And, well, some men will do just about anything to get sex. If they feel like they don’t have a brain in their head that a woman will want to explore, they do things to show off. Kind of like those fancy Birds of Paradise we saw on Planet Earth…”
“And sometimes, men are worried about how long their penises are, so they do things to make themselves seem like they have way bigger penises.”
He laughed. “People actually worry about that?”
“Silly, I know. But, yeah. And sometimes, some men get something called ‘small man syndrome’ where they make themselves seem bigger or more important they are by being inconsiderate jerks and not caring how their actions will affect everyone, including sleeping families at eleven o’clock at night.”
“Oooh. But what was that sound, Dad?” he was still thinking about what had just shaken him.
I laughed. “That’s what I’m saying. That’s the sound of testosterone. Testosterone is this thing our bodies make when we’re men that tell us we need to figure out how to have sex, and it tells us all the stupid things we should do to make that happen, even though it always doesn’t make the most sense. So, for example, that sound was probably the sound of some man who spent thousands and thousands of dollars to put huge, giant speakers in his car so that some girl somewhere would think he was awesome.”
“Those were speakers? Who needs speakers that loud? They could make our whole building fall down.” Somehow Noah had wiggled his way up onto my lap.
“No one does,” I told him. “At least not anyone who believes in who they are as a person, and who believes in what they have to offer organically, and who believes that they are good enough without flash and power and pompous grandeur. Those guys don’t need speakers like that, but other guys… they need things like that if they ever want to get any action.”
“That’s crazy. What else do guys do with their testosterone?” Noah asked.