When I was a grade school, my teacher took us to the Discovery Center in Boise. It was one of those “hands on” museums where kids get the chance to learn up close and personal that science in not only fun, but potentially messy enough to get you kicked out of a “hands on” museum.
We loved the place. It was a place that naturally led to running and screaming – even ten year old boys' favorite activities – and it gave me a chance to live out some of my early-nerd fantasies of doing what I assumed to be real scientist type activities, stuff like building an arch out of blocks, or knocking down rows of dominoes while blowing giant soap balloons while digging a sandbox for bolted down plastic dinosaur bones.
Scientists live an awesome life.
One of my favorite parts of the “museum” was the “lift simulator” which is a fancy name for a super powerful vacuum set to blow out enough air to hold a ball in midair. We used this highly sensitive scientific device to perform several serious experiments about the effects of highly pressurized air on our faces.
Through an accident that the experts agree was bound to happen at any place that gave kids ready access to science the Discovery Center closed. Well, after 17 years, I've finally found what they did with the lift simulator.
It's in our local Target's mens' room, working as the most incredible hand dryer I've ever seen.
This gave me a welcome distraction because I was at Target to buy my wife a nursing bra.
They say when you become a parent your whole world changes and they couldn't be more correct, or more vague. I really thought they meant that the minute I looked into those black little eyes I'd be a real adult, complete with a hedge fund and a basic knowledge of fuel-injected engines.
In reality I got told to go to the women's underwear section of Target.
Because I got the wrong kind the first time.
As a new father I'm doing a lot of things that College Steve would never do, picking little dried flakes of poop of another human being for example. I didn't want to do those things, but I am a daddy, and the thing needed to be done, so I just did it and it wasn't all that bad.
I figured buying a nursing bra would be one of those things.
It was still that bad.
I'm now convinced there will never be a time in my life where I will feel comfortable in the lingerie section of a store. I am even less comfortable asking a real live human female which bra I should get my wife.
To be entirely honest, Target is lucky that I felt more uncomfortable stealing than I did walking back and forth in front of the check stands with my purchase hidden beneath a pack of diapers waiting for the one check stand with a middle aged man (because the middle aged man working at Target can judge no one) to open up.
There are other ways I've changed as well though. For example, I can't listen to country radio anymore.
I've always been a fan of the deep, heart-felt, family oriented lyrics that country music offers. Nowadays however, I can't listen to any song about fathers, children or dogs without tearing up.
Yesterday I heard “Enter Sandman” by Metallica and wept like a child.
It just would have been nice if some one, rather than saying “Your life will change,” had told me “You are going to turn into a giant boob.
Speaking of boobs I'm not even going to get into how those have changed for me.
Lets just say I caught a clip of “The Girls Next Door” and all I could think about was food storage.
So all in all I've been changing in more ways faster than I have since puberty. And just like puberty, I'm tired, cranky and smell bad. But – just to run this analogy into the ground – just like puberty, I'm embarking a fascinating adventure into a new time of my life, complete with new experiences, new heartaches and new pants.
Only this time, I'm losing hair, rather than gaining it.
Steve Shinney is a new dad, which he's learning changes a man more than being a graduate, a missionary and an eagle scout all put together. Comments go below. That hasn't changed.