The Day Travis Became a Man – short story (part 1)

don draper cryingSix year old Travis Tatum was taught from an early age, that men are not supposed to cry. Like the time he was outside with his dad learning to ride his bike and he fell off scraping his elbows and knees. As his mother watched from the kitchen window, she saw him bleeding, but to avoid another argument with her husband, she stayed inside, but it was hurting her to see Travis in pain. Little Travis, tried his best to hold back his tears as his father yelled, “get up boy and man up!” “What I tell you?” “Tatum men don’t cry, only a sissy cries.” “Get your behind up and get back on that bike.” So, little Travis did what his father told him and got back on the bike. As Travis’s mother watched from the kitchen and saw how brave he was trying to be, they locked eyes and the look in her eyes told Travis, she was sorry, and it will be alright. Travis was the oldest and the only boy of four children. So, the pressure was always on from his dad for him to be a real man, even at such an early age.

Travis and his mother were very close and had a great bond. Travis dad worked nights, so after his mother would read him and his sisters’ bedtime stories, Travis would get to stay up longer, since he was the oldest. That was one of the best things Travis liked about being the oldest, is being able to stay up longer than his sisters. He and his mother would sit and chat about anything that Travis may want to talk about. He never really had a chance to sit and talk with his dad like that, since he worked nights and slept during the day, while Travis and his sisters were in school. Travis wish he could talk with his father, but his father like most men was not really the talkative type. He was not the type to express his feelings other than to let you know when he was upset. He never said I love you, he felt they knew how much he loved them by him going to work and taking care of the family. After all, that was the way Travis’s grandfather showed his dad and his grandmother that he loved them, by working and providing for their family. As Travis got older and had to with stand the harsh words of his father about being a man, he vowed that he would never be that way with his children and family.

A few years went by and when Travis turned ten his mother took very ill. Travis tried to stay strong for his sisters as his mother got weaker and weaker. There were less bedtime stories and less late night talks with his mom. However, Travis did try to steal as many moments and conversations with his mom that he could. He needed to know how to be a good man, a whole man and not just a strong man. He wanted to know how to be a good husband and father and he felt the only person that could really teach him that was his mother. Travis mother always told him and his sisters how much she loved them every day and every night before bed. Well, a few months went by and Travis mother passed away. Leaving Travis and his sisters with their father to raise alone.

Travis’s mother funeral was very nice; his father went all out to make sure his wife had a beautiful burial and ceremony. At the funeral his sisters couldn’t stop crying. Travis didn’t shed a tear. It’s not that he didn’t want to, but the words of his father telling him that Tatum men don’t cry just kept ringing in his ears. His sisters looked at him in wonder, and kept asking him, “Travis, don’t you miss mom?” Travis would reply “Yes, of course I miss her.” “Then why you’re not crying?” asked his youngest sister, “you don’t act like you miss her.” “TATUM MEN, DON’T CRY!” Travis yelled at his sister and ran into his room and slammed the door behind him. Travis was hurting inside and wanted to let it out, but was too afraid of what his father would say or do if he saw him crying. So, he never did. As Travis grew older he learned to suppress his feelings. He never showed any emotions.

Once in middle school while playing on the softball team, due to his skills on the field his team won the state championship and at the end of the school year he was awarded most valuable player and was given a large trophy. Everyone on the team was so excited and the coach was ecstatic, but no one could figure out why Travis showed no emotion to winning such honor. He just accepted the trophy and walked off the stage without a smile, or a show of any type of emotion at all. In the past his coach and team mates have seen how tough Travis could be. Once when he twisted and broke his arm after falling trying to catch a fastball, he didn’t cry or even show that he was in any pain. But, they thought that by him winning the most valuable player award that they would see some type of emotion from Travis…yet, it never happened.

As the years went on, Travis attitude got worse, he was fighting other boys just to prove how tough and manly he was, his sisters started to resent him at times, because he would run off the guys they liked, just to show them that when their father wasn’t at home, he was running things. While in Jr. High School, girls tried to show him they liked him, but they got no play. He was one hard brother to get to know. Then Travis went to high school and was doing well (he knew his father wasn’t having anything less). All through high school, Travis was just a player when it came to girls. He didn’t want to get emotionally involved with anyone, so being a player worked best for him at that time…at least that is what he thought. Now, don’t misunderstand, Travis father never hit his mother, but he never showed any affection either. Unfortunately, that is how men were taught to be back-in-his-day, and they raised their sons the same way. It’s a sad cycle that needed to be broken.

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