A/N: Starts out in the present and will end in the present. Everything in between are flashbacks. Each different flashback will be characterized by one line. The words in bold italics are song lyrics. Also, I excluded the background singer's ((He's the man, He's the man)) part for the most of the time.
Needles and pins, needles and pins, when a man marries his trouble begins - Anonymous
"Alright! I love this song." Michael states as he turns the knob on the car radio to escalate its volume.
"Why do you love this song?"
"Because..." he pauses, not knowing what to say. "It's hysterical! And it always makes me think of you, Maxwell."
At this point, I look at him very strangely. A bit confused and also a bit inquisitive, my facial expressions took a hold on me and they suddenly changed.
The features on my visage must have expressed my feelings perfectly because as soon as Michael saw them he shouted, "No, moron! Don't flatter yourself. I meant that – look, never-mind. Just listen to the lyrics and I'm sure you'll figure it out for yourself."
So he raised the volume some more and piped down. And I, foolishly, took his advice and concentrated to the words of the song. Thinking back on it, I hate myself for doing it. Since when do I ever listen to Michael? And why, why, did I start then. Okay, so I don't know the answer to that. But I do know that I, indeed, figured out what Michael meant when he said he thought of me. It just might be, I think, that this song was entitled to me. But anyway... the lyrics ... were all-too-true, unfortunately, and I'll show you why.
Ladies and gentlemen, the man song
(He's the man, He's the man)
"Hey can you get me a drink, man," Kyle asked Max while they watching a basketball game on television.
"Hell no, get off your lazy ass and get it yourself," Max impolitely replied.
Sighing, Kyle stood up and stretched. He had just got off his 10 hour shift at work and frankly he couldn't understand why Max couldn't get him a drink.
Just then, Liz came in. "Max, I'm sort of tired... can you pick up Mark from soccer practice, set the table, and cook dinner."
"Sure thing, honey," Maxwell responded, immediately and with a smile.
Meanwhile, Kyle just looked at Max with a most disapproving look and shook his head, unable to comprehend Maxwell's sudden change of moods.
"Dude, are you sure you're not bipolar?"
I don't take no crap from anybody (else but you)
Max released an immense sigh as he grudgingly removed the items from the washer and made a quick inspection of the clothes. "Dammit" he swore under his breath. The stain from Liz's jeans still wasn't gone. She had taken the kids to the batting court and while Mark was dragging her to go see something she fell and got her pants dirty. Laundry Day was definitely the worst day of the week. Oh, how he dreaded Sunday mornings because of this. He could easily still be sleeping in his warm bed but no, things had to be taken care of and apparently he was the one who had to take care of them.
"Damn you, Downy! Damn you to Hell! You're full of crap...you just don't friggin' work!" he screamed, a bit loud. All heads in the Laundromat turned to face Max, who was currently tightly holding the bottle of Downy, as if strangling it. He immediately looked down, embarrassed, thinking why Liz couldn't be here in his stead.
I wear the pants around here
When I'm finished with your laundry
"Ok Liz, don't tempt me because I will hurt you if I have to!"
"Oh you will, will you?" she replied, sarcastically.
"Yep... besides you don't want to get into a physical brawl with me. I'm 'not of this earth', remember. I have special abilities. I can so kick your ass if I wanted to." Max said, to intimidate her.
"Yeah, right. I'm sure that'll go real well over at the police station when I report you in for abusing your wife," she had the upper hand, again.
Max sighed. She knew he wouldn't hurt her and that's why she was taking advantage of him. So, instead, he suddenly moved a step forward and pinched her on the shoulder.
"You got to be kidding me!? That's all you got... jeez, you're pathetic. Now that you've surrendered to me, I expect you to drive your daughter, Angela over to your sister's so I can have the night to myself."
"Yeah yeah, whatever you say, Liz."
'Cause I'm a guy you don't wanna fight,
When I say Jump, you say "Yeah Right"
"Guys, you have to do what I tell you to. I'm superior, I'm King."
"What? What are you talking about Daddy?" one of the children questioned.
"Well, at least I was a king... nonetheless you kids have to do what I say. Now I say that you should go brush your teeth and get ready for bed." Max pointed in the general direction of the lavatory.
"Dad, come on, in twenty minutes we'll go – but now we're watching TV," the older of the two spoke, his eyes remaining glued on the television set.
"No, Mark. Not in twenty minutes... now!" Max kept his command.
Not one child responded... nor did they move. Mark and Angela stayed put. But in the mist of the utter silence, noise arose.
"Great," Max muttered and attended to the screaming baby. "This is going to be a long night."
When Max returned, just a few minutes later, he found the children missing. Feeling a little panicked, thinking that they actually might have left the house; he quickly searched the rooms and found them safe and sound in their own beds.
"Huh... that was pretty easy. I wonder what made them change their minds."
AN HOUR LATER
"Hey, honey" Liz said as she entered the room. "How'd it go with the kids while I was away?"
"Actually, Liz, it went really great. I mean, at first, Mark and Angela were hesitant in listening to me... but then I really set them straight and they went to bed right away. And little Alexandria was no trouble at all... she only cried once." Max explained.
"That's great, Max. You're like Mr. Mom now. But I'm going to go kiss them goodnight."
"Okay," he smiled at the little joke.
Max secretly followed Liz to Mark's room, intending to wait for her, of course.
"Hey, Mark." Liz began.
"Your Dad told me that you did exactly what he told you to. Thanks for taking it easy on him like I said. Tomorrow, we'll go out for ice cream and eat gallons of them."
Upon hearing this conversation, Maxwell sighed and thought, Gee well isn't this lovely...just finding out that your own kids don't listen to you merely because you're their father but because they were being REWARDED for it. Mr. Mom, my ass!
I'm the man of this house until you get home.
What I say goes around here, (Right out the window)
"Sometimes I just feel like it's too much. You know what I mean? I have work and then there're the kids – God, why, did we decide to have three of them. They give us so much work to do. Why did I ever have let you convince me to have a family? What was I thinking!? They are just too much. They're crazy. And then there's work... that's just another massive load of crap the ever-growing pile. You know what – I think I want a vacation. I just want – no, I yearn for – a big everlasting vacation that will get us away from crappy work and aggravating children. It'll be great; just you and me under the Californian sun. It sounds appealing, doesn't it? It's just, everything – the life that we're living now is too stressful and pressuring. Let's get away. Let's drop everything and get away as soon as possible. What do ya say, honey?"
"Sweetie, stop whining, the life we have is perfect and wonderful."
"Yeah for you it is because you don't do a damn thing!"
Liz stared at her husband, a hard cold terrorizing stare that sent chills down Max's back.
"Okay! Okay! Sorry – I didn't mean it. I'll just drop the whole idea."
Liz turned back to cooking and Maxwell moaned, trying to conceal it.
But I don't wanna hear a lot of whining,
So I'll shut up
When he heard and recognized the voice that mentioned the name, Max grinded his teeth. Then he responded, reluctantly, "Yes?"
"Um, did you pick up the gift that I need to bring to Maria's baby shower?"
"No, Liz. I didn't. Mainly because, you never told me you purchased a gift in the first place and secondly, you certainly, never told me that I had to go get it."
"Oh well, that's strange." Liz mused. "I must have just forgotten to mention it. Max, you have to go get it because we're going over to their house in less than two hours. And you better go now because we still have to wrap it and whatnot."
"Liz, no hon - I'm sorry but I can't. I'm so incredibly tired – like you wouldn't believe. I can't go out searching for some stupid baby item. I seriously cannot get up from this couch. I'm going to have to put my foot down for this."
"I already got the present, you just have to go pick it up. I'd do it myself but I have to watch the kids."
"I'll watch them. I'm Mr. Mom, remember, according to you."
"Yes, but right now Mr. Mom was sent on a mission by his adoring wife."
Max looked at her and simply shook his head, "Sorry... no can do."
"Fine... but I'm not going to be the one to explain to Maria why we didn't hand in a present. You are."
"Fine. I can do that..."
ROUGHLY TWO HOURS LATER
"Hey! Look who's here." Maria shouted excitedly.
After all hugging Kyle, Isabel, and Max, Maria finally came to Liz and innocently asked, "So...where's my present?"
"Max can tell you that, actually."
"So girlfriend, where's my present?" she questioned, happily.
"Funny thing is... heh..." Max suddenly stopped. He saw two things that caused his abrupt halt. The first was Maria's eyes. They, unexpectedly, had just turned watery and glistening. The second image that caught Max's attention was Michael. Michael, who was standing behind Maria, was frantically waving his hands around to his neck to indicate for Maxwell to stop. He knew, more than everybody else, that if Maria didn't get what she wanted at this point in time, someone was going to suffer big time.
"Actually, Maria, it was accidentally left at home. You know it took forever to get the kids ready and the present was forgotten in the house. Um, I'll go get it now, alright.
And as Maxwell raced out of the apartment he heard his wife clear her throat in a very pompous sort of way.
Finally, he reached the car and screamed into the empty area. "Women! Dammit they're not even worth it with all the problems and aggravation that they cause. Okay, Liz, I get it... you're always right."
The sooner you'll learn who's boss around here,
The sooner you can give me my orders dear.
'Cause I'm head hunter around here, but it's all in my head
"Oh, wow, I don't think I have ever been this bored." Liz sighed.
"So why don't you go to sleep?" proposed Max. God knows it'll get out her out of my hair for at least a while.
"Nah... I'm just going to surf the tube a little bit." Liz reached over her drawers to find the remote control to the bedroom television set.
"God dammit!" she shouted. "Nothing's on but Joe Millioniare and American Idol."She shut the T.V.
"Well, you'd know what'd be a crazy idea since you're bored and I'm bored..." Max left his sentence drift, incompletely, but also raised his eyebrow to his wife in a very suggestive manner.
After a minute's contemplation, Liz just shook her head and relied, "Nah, I'm not in the mood."
A FEW EVENINGS LATER
"Hey! Wake up, Sleepyhead!"
"Huh... What's the matter Liz? It's two in the morning."
"I couldn't get to sleep so I was wondering if you'd want to... you know..."
Max, although barely conscious, was enraged. "No! I don't want to. I got a full day ahead of me tomorrow for this special project we're doing. I really got to get all the rest I can get."
"Please?" She said, batting her eyes.
"NO! SLEEP!" he commanded her.
"Max...." she growled, in a very hazardous tone.
"Alright!" Max shut the lamp on his bedside and, sighing, rolled over.
And I can have sex anytime that you want
'Cause I'm man who has needs, but they're not that important
"Wow... Max, you fucked up big time."
"Yes, God, I know. I didn't need for you to re-establish that... I need you for advice."
"What? Why come to me?"
"Well, gee I don't know... hmm, can it be that you're a girl and my sister so, naturally, I expected you'd be there when I needed you. Silly me... always expecting the impossible."
"Okay! Enough with your sarcasm... it's horrible. Jeez, remind me, one day, Michael and I have to teach you the true art of sarcasm." Isabel stated.
"Yeah okay... someday... but not today, because today you have to tell me how I can reconcile with my wife, meaning, of course, kissing up to her for at least three months. So where should I start? What is going to say 'I'm sorry' this time? Chocolate?"
"No... chocolate won't work this time around. Um, let's see..."
"Oh, I know!" Max jumped in. "Flowers... Those are always good, right. I'll get her white roses, she adores those."
"Sorry, big bro, but roses ain't gonna cut it this time. You're going to have to take it a step higher and dig in a lot more into your wallet."
"So what you're saying is..."
"That diamonds are a girl's best friend." Isabel completed the sentence.
"That's what I was afraid of..." Max murmured.
LATER, AT THE JEWELLERS' SHOP
"That's the one." Isabel smirked.
"That's also the costly one. Are you sure?" Max asked, apprehensively.
"Positive." Isabel told him. "He'll take that one." She sweetly said to the owner of the shop.
Frowning, Maxwell took out his credit card and whispered "Adios, big screen T.V. Maybe we'll someday meet in another lifetime..."
And don't expect any flowers from me,
'Cause if I'm not mistaken you prefer jewelry.
"'Heaven, I'm in heaven. And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak... and I seem to find the happiness I seek...'"
Maxwell Evans was as happy as he had ever been. And there was one reason for it – solitude... absolute solitude. No annoyances, no kids and no wife! Yep, life was good. Liz had to take a business trip and sent the kids to live with Aunt Isabel for a week.
Oh, man...this is paradise. No! No! This is beyond paradise...it's like, wow, I can't even find the word for how I feel. It's indescribable.
And it really was the world that every man yearns for. It was the male species' idea of Heaven that had been fantasized of since the Bing Bang. It was the Bachelor's life. The life that included watching television non-stop, renting action movies and not fear that the 'innocent' children would catch sight of the films, stay up all night and sleeps all day, and best of all... he can leave the toilet seat up and no one would say a thing.
And so Maxwell Evans continued to hum and hold on to the tune of Cheek to Cheek by Fred Astaire as long as he was able to.
I'm the king of my castle when you're not around.
"Shouldn't you be heading on home now, Maxwell?"
"Michael, the game's not even over yet." He pointed to the area of the television set that was airing a hockey game.
"Yeah, but you know how Liz gets." Kyle joined in and Michael grinned.
"Yeah, actually, wouldn't you know how Liz gets? After all, you dated her, once upon a time, and God knows how much you sucked up to her then." Maxwell quipped.
"Oh yeah... good one... I forgot about that." Michael stated as he took another sip of his drink.
Max turned to him and simply said, "Shut up, Michael."
"Hey, I was praising you for the good comeback. Don't blame me for nothing."
"I'll have you know, Kyle, that I am not at the merciless hands of Elizabeth Parker-Evans. She's my wife and I can handle her."
"Sure, I'd like to see that happen," his friends commented.
"It does happen!" and the three men began quarrelling.
And just then a sleepy Maria stepped from under the bedroom door and said, "Hey guys, can you keep it down?"
"Sure, baby... do you want something to eat or..." her husband replied.
"Nah... just, you know, Shush!" She turned back and closed the door. And as she did, Michael turned his head back to his friends.
And Max had this look on his face that said 'And I'm the one that's whipped'.
"Don't even start," Michael threatened by pointing his index finger in Maxwell's face.
LATER THAT NIGHT
"Ow! Goddammit..." a very tired Max stumbled into his home a little after 2:00 A.M., tripping on one of his children's toys in the process.
He sighed heavily as he attempted to position his jacket on the wooden coat-rack near the entrance door. He realized he failed as the jacket immediately came crashing down onto the floor. Oh crap, I don't think I can bend my knees. Eh... I'll just leave it there... it's not like it's going to go anywhere.
And so he left the article of clothing on the floor as he stepped over it to go into his bedroom. But the glistening moonlight reflected onto his bedroom door and he, surprisingly, found a white piece of paper taped to the door. It read:
There's a lesson to be learned today and that is ... 'The early bird gets the worm.' The tardy bird does not get the worm or the bed...the couch is all yours, Mr-I-Can't-Get-Home-On-Time...(I hope a night of watching hockey and playing poker was worth it)...
Have fun, be comfy – Liz
And I'll drink and watch sports whenever I want to get in trouble,
And I'll come home when I'm good and ready, (to sleep on the couch)
"Huh... so what did I tell ya? Was I right or was I right?" Michael smiled and stated, very happily, knowing that he had been correct.
"Wow..." I was astonished. "But how can this be? I'm not... I mean I'm tall, and I'm strong, and I've battled alien killers... and Liz is small, and she's weak, and she's never really battled alien killers. How come she's so damn – superior. I was a king once upon time... how could this have come about?"
And Michael simply shrugged his shoulders and replied, nonchalantly, "Shit happens..."
"That's women for you, buddy." Michael grinned again.
"Hey! Don't look so smug. The same thing is happening with you and Maria."
Immediately Michael responded with a quick excuse. "That's different and you know it! She's pregnant for Christ's sake. If I don't do what she wants she'll have my head... or God Forbid, something else. She's a fuckin' lethal weapon!"
I laugh, "'Lethal Weapon'... For the love of God, Michael, why is it that everything you say have to be in some way connected to a Mel Gibson film?!"
"What can I say... I'm a fan."
I smile again and then came to a set conclusion, unwillingly.
"So I guess that's it, huh." I started. "I'm whipped."
"Yep," Michael nodded.
"But I was a king, Michael. That's got to count for something..."
"Yeah it does. It says that you were a king and now Liz has taken your throne," Michael once again smirked.
"Okay, stop it with the jokes. I get it."
"Poor Maxwell... robbed of his royal jewels..."
But his laughter continued and I just breathed, very deeply.
Finally, things died down in the car.
"Michael, can I tell you something?"
"I really hate this song!" and with those words I, Maxwell Evans, thought, Oh God, I'm whipped. I was a freakin' king and now I'm practically a footstool. Even worse, Michael was RIGHT about something...what is this world coming to...
'Cause a man's gotta do, what a man's gotta do,
And I'm gonna do what you tell me to,
Because I'm Top Dog around here but I've been neutered
(He's the man, He's the man.)
(You The Man!)
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