Every evening, at 8pm, the father returns home from work. He says “hello”, then trots upstairs to “answer emails”. Last night, for the first time, I quietly followed in the footsteps of his curious nightly ascent.
It is said that we fill voids. We work or watch TV or go on the internet or chat or exercise. Nothingness has been misidentified as modern man’s predator, and we escape it by letting it dress in beautiful language: People describe a ‘passion’, as if the word possesses the strength to lift their hobby from a chasm and place it on the cliffs of necessity.
The father has always struck me as someone who fears voids more than most. He goes to an office and does work, he returns home and does work, then repeats it all the next day. Nothingness scares him so much that he can only confront it semi-consciously; in his sleep.
I tread lightly behind him and hear the door to his office creak open as he steps in. I hear him settle on his chair and I hear him sigh.
But I do not hear typing or the shuffling of papers; rather, the sound of my heart and breath. I get closer and peer through the crack in the door and the line of light transmits an unexpected kinship, an affinity…
He stares straight ahead, blankly, at the wall. His arms flop down by his sides and his mouth hangs open. His chest rises and falls with my own. Like me, he is a void-seeker. He craves one every evening and here, in his office, he finds one. It is not a peripheral void he is confronting, but one within himself, and he is embracing it.
He sits like this for ten minutes, before grabbing a beer and heading downstairs to chat to the children.
The Male Nanny