MAN OF THE HOUSE

Suit up, Dad, time to waltz Tuxedos and naked truths

Should've bagged the whole thing when they told me I'd have to waltz. Who waltzes anymore? Prussian diplomats? Is there even a Prussia anymore? No, because while everyone was waltzing, mean dudes with muskets were coming over the parapets.

Anyway, they told me I'd have to waltz, and I thought to myself, "Yeah, I can do a few steps and get off the stage."

Big deal, waltzing.

Then they told me I'd have to rehearse. Like Sinatra, I'm not much for rehearsal. Brando may have liked to practice, but not me. I'm a one-take guy. "Sorry, I'm not rehearsing," I told them firmly.

At the first rehearsal, we learned to count 1-2-3, 1-2-3 and circle the dance floor in big loops. It was all very French, and I don't mean that as a compliment. I went on to waltz in six 90-minute lessons -- which comes to three years when you add it all up. A spunky little waltz coach named Sharon yelled at me and the other dads a lot. We liked that. She reminded us of Lombardi.

Then they told me I'd have to rent a tux. Just the thought of wearing a tux makes all the blood rush to my tongue. "You can dress me in a tux when I'm dead and not before," I told them thickly.

See, I wore a tux at my wedding, and that didn't work out so well (I have scars). I wore a tux to be part of a good friend's wedding -- twice -- and neither of those relationships lasted. Tuxes are black, like ravens, and I associate them with death and Edgar Allan Poe.

"Seriously, I am not wearing a tux," I told them.

At the rental shop, I take the tux into the dressing room to try it on. There is a full-length mirror there. This is good, because I have never seen myself completely naked like this. It's high time for a thorough visual exam:

* Love handles? Check.

* Moobs (male boobs)? Check.

* The makings of a nice gut, just like Dad's? Check.

* A little beard growing on my lower back? Check.

* A butt as white as wedding cake? Check.

In short, it is a magnificent sight, me naked in the mirror. For all the mileage -- the steaks, the cheeseburgers, 12 million dinner rolls -- everything is looking pretty good, though I notice that I slump forward a little. And where there was once just chest hair, there is now what looks to be a small toupee.

"I'm worried about my posture," I tell my wife later.

"You walk as if falling forward," she says.

Check.

That's what happens when you work with your hands all day. I sit hunched at my little Remington, sacrificing my dancer's physique while hammering out these middling little notes to you about life, love and lust. It's not hard work, except for the love part.

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