What My Lawnchair Showed Me

As parents to four grade schoolers who are into all manner of sports, we travel around with a the equivalent of a Big 5 Sporting Goods store in the back of our minivan.

I’m talking a collapsible bench for the team to sit on, cones and practice jerseys, pop-up goals, frisbees, basketballs, softballs and a massive bag of soccer balls. I mean, if I’m not careful, when I open the back gate, all of a sudden it’s a yard sale…

And, in and amongst the pile of gear is a lawnchair or two.

Such as this one:


This particular baby is sweet. Its a Tommy Bahama, and I got it for my birthday last month. It’s got all of the amenities you could want, including side bags, a neck pillow, backpack straps for an easy carry and about 5 different reclining settings. It’s really the Cadillac of lawnchairs.

All of that said, there’s one problem with this otherwise perfect lawnchair:

I can never close it.

For me this thing is worse than a Rubik’s Cube. It’s the Sphinx. It’s like Stonehenge; no one knows how to solve it. They should do NPR podcasts on the mystery that this chair presents.

In my defense, other people struggle to fold this lawn chair as well. But that doesn’t change the fact that when push comes to shove (literally), and I can’t close the chair, I think this:

I’m a man. I should be able to do this.

Why do I think that?

Perhaps it’s decades of being told that men should take care of the sporting equipment. Or, maybe, it’s the ingrained logic that physical tasks are a man’s domain. Or perhaps it’s the socialized narrative that says that solving mechanical problems is a man’s work.

Or perhaps my unthinking and illogical conflation of the act of folding up a lawnchair and my identity as a man suggests that Tertullian himself was a soccer dad?!?

Whatever the reason, all I know is that somehow I feel less manly when I can’t close the stinking chair. So, the other day, with the track meet rapidly drawing to a close, I turned to face the challenge. And what do you think I did?

Here, let me show you:


That’s right. I texted a friend of mine to ask for help. You see, she also rocks a Tommy Bahama chair at sporting events. And, sure enough, she walked me through it.

What’s the moral of the story? Maybe, just maybe, laying down male privilege can be as simple as…

Asking for help.

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