by Mark Elswick


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Padman by Mark Elswick

"Padman made me smile, chuckle, laugh out loud, cry and all the emotions in between..." --Diana Stroud,

In this collection of personal essays, Mark Elswick offers humorous episodes about being a man and father. Whether it's his daughter sending him to the store to buy those... well, things that transforms him into
"Padman"; his realization that at forty-two, he is slowly turning into an old man; or his reaction to his middle school aged daughter dating a
"man" two years older than her, readers--male and female alike--will find themselves cracking smiles when they aren't busy laughing out loud.

Elswick also has a serious side to him. Interspersed with the comical tales are heartfelt looks into the lives of people who experience a Traumatic
Brain Incident (TBI) injury, including his own story of being in a life-threatening car accident that left doctors predicting he would be a vegetable for the rest of his life. With compassion and insight, while retaining his sense of humor, Elswick writes to raise awareness about TBI;
a portion of Padman: A Dad's Guide to Buying... Those, and Other Tales'
proceeds will go to TBI research.

Acclaim for Elswick's Padman

"I am officially announcing my own support for Mark Elswick, the writer who won his own battle with TBI and is now giving back of himself to those who are continuing or just beginning theirs. Padman offers an 'edutaining' read on a subject that is anything but humorous. And it underscores the importance of embracing now the devastation of TBI
among the general public, as well as in the face of our affected troops returning home."

--Joseph Yurt, Reader Views

"Mark Elswick's style of humor will be appreciated by any male reader as he pokes fun at himself and the feminine world that he often perceives to be threatening his masculinity. Plus, what's better than helping a good cause (Traumatic Brain Injury research) while getting some laughs!"

--Tyler R. Tichelaar, PhD, author of the award-winning Narrow Lives

Humor : Topic - Marriage & Family

Learn more at

Available in hardcover, paperback, and eBook editions

From the Reflections of America Series at Modern History Press

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781615991150
Publisher: Loving Healing Press
Publication date: 09/03/2011
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.27(d)

Read an Excerpt


Padman: A Dad's Guide to Buying ... Those

From the moment the words woke me, I was sure the mission I faced would be my most difficult to date. At 8:51 a.m., I was unexpectedly stirred in my comfortable bed by words every man dreads to hear from his daughter, girlfriend, or spouse. As unplanned and unfortunate as it was, today was my day, the day I realized that all men, albeit unknowingly, have a bit of Padman inside them.

The morning started with sheer shock. My daughter's first words to me were followed by complete silence as I gave an eye-opening response. As if we were both acting on the big screen, 007's suspenseful movie music began pulsating between my ears. Immediately, I shot her a glare — constant, almost piercing, and never before witnessed by her eyes. My inability to move — due to a combination of blinding sun beaming through the window and my daughter's words — forced a hypnotic glare from me that must have frightened her. Her words, however, were far more ferocious.

Just as James Bond himself has done on numerous occasions, I darted into action following that silent, momentary pause. However, let it be known that even though I compared my situation with all of 007's dangerous missions, having seen every Bond flick, I can assure my readers that the larger-than-life ladies man never faced the life-altering experience I was about to encounter for the first time. It, my friends, was man's greatest fear — coming face-to-face with feminine hygiene (FH).

"Dad, please go to the store for me," were my daughter's exact words on that not-so-memorable morning. But it was her subsequent words that truly shocked me, froze me, and nearly pierced my heart.

"I need pads — BAD!"

As those startling words awoke me, a slow, sinister, penetrating freeze began at my ears and continued to flow through my body to the tips of my toes. I felt cemented to my bed by an eerie feeling. Like a demonic possession, it consumed me. As I lay silently in my suddenly not-so-comfortable bed, trying to exhale, I realized I had become completely statuesque. After what must have been a forty-five second mesmerized state, my eyes finally blinked. Then, as if I had been shot out of a cannon, I sprang into action.

There I was, a single dad, about to do what virtually every man would agree was "the unthinkable." But like a trooper, I jumped out of bed almost instantly — well, instantly once I was able to move — when I heard the urgency in my little girl's voice. Without even showering and with no idea how to go about the task before me, I hurriedly got dressed, brushed my teeth, grabbed my coat, donned a baseball cap, and put on my sunglasses, hoping thereby to hide my identity, and away I went — off to face this heinous challenge.

As with any unenviable event Fate decrees, people usually remember exactly where they were when an unexpected crisis arose. For example, my aunts, uncles, and parents can all recite exactly where they were when they heard President Kennedy was assassinated. Still others, including myself, can pinpoint their exact locations when the media broadcast that President Reagan had been shot. I would even go so far as to say that my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Board, could recall how cloudy it was while Noah was busy building his boat. In fact, as a detailed example of cemented memory, I was an eight-year old playing at Granddad's when Channel 5 broke the news that The King had permanently left the building. I can remember the precise channel and television location in his small living room as I rushed into the house at the sound of my mother's scream on that dark, August day in 1977.

Now with a twelve-year-old daughter, today would prove to be yet another example of cemented memory. As much as I wish I could, I will never be able to forget my exact location, the scenery, and the spine-tingling feeling that I endured during my inaugural FH Day. The sun was shining brightly, but as is common in Michigan, the wind was extremely brisk. It looked like spring, but it felt like January in Alaska. Being covered from head-to-toe was the only thing shielding me from possible frostbite, windburn, and sunburn on this all-too-familiar morning of Michigan's eight-month-season we call winter. As brutal as it appeared to be, not even the elements could stand in my way as I courageously — I felt, anyhow — accepted and embarked upon this mission. Displaying nothing short of sheer determination to go along with a ruggedly resilient scowl, I sped to the nearest drugstore and waltzed right in, demanding what I needed. Looking back, though, I am not so sure that "demand" is absolutely the most appropriate term I could use. To be honest, whimper or murmur would be more accurate.

The mood quickly shifted from confident to flat out bleak once I was inside the all too "obscene" merchandise dealer. Trying to go unnoticed (even though I was the only shopper in the store), I tiptoed down every aisle, searching for the oldest working male I could find to help me locate the nasty quicker-picker-upper items, which shall remain nameless for the time being. Unquestionably, I was overcome with fear, not to mention a newfound insecurity I felt increase with every minute of my incognito navigation of the premises on quest for this "mythical" older, male pharmacist. I did not have a mirror, but I am quite positive that a growing look of despair was replacing my once-confident stare. Furthermore, I could feel my hard, stoic chin turning to quivering jelly as I slowly and quietly scanned each aisle. Out of nowhere, at that very instant of my helplessness, I felt the tiniest amount of Man Fluid build up in my eye and roll down my left nostril. In that woeful hour, I must have, somehow, sprung a leak. That was the precise moment when it occurred to me that "demand" had left my vocabulary. Right then and right there, I knew I would be forced to "beg" for assistance.

In sheer desperation, as I continued to scour the vicinity for this phar-man-acist, my sneaky suspicion was adding to my already bewildered state. I was mortified to discover there was, in reality, no older man working behind the counter. In fact, there was no male working in the store at all. Instead, four women were on the time clock. Working behind the counter were the manager (it said so on her name tag) and assistant manager (same thing). Then, working on the floor in aisles one and six were two extremely attractive sales clerks who appeared to be in their mid-twenties. Since the managers were obviously "too busy," engrossed in what appeared to be empty boxes behind the counter, remaining oblivious to my world of pain and embarrassment, you know who I was forced to question.

Then, an image of Mike Tyson sprang into my mind. At that very instant — like the ringing of the bell for the opening round — I stomped my feet with each step and prepared to battle the inevitable. After all, every — and I do mean every — Padman virgin has faced the same decision. If you are a man who has yet to experience his initial run-in with buying feminine hygiene products, the following three alternatives are what will cross your mind, just as they crossed mine:

A) Leave the store and hurry to another where a fellow superior-species member can help.

The true reality of alternative A follows:

This course of action would be cowardly, despite it being one to which many members of the "stronger gender" often succumb.

B) Return home, get my daughter, and make her go in to buy "them."

The harsh reality of alternative B follows:

As demoralizing as it might be, I knew this option was not a real alternative. Between my teeth brushing and coat grabbing, I had asked her to go with me. Her response had almost made me hurl:

"Dadddddddddd????? I can't go! The toilet paper I'm using is already leaking."

To this day, those words and the expression she gave me still make me shiver.

C) Seek help right then, right there, from whatever female is available to assist; buy the pads, and become a "heroic" dad (at least in my own eyes).

The unfortunate reality of alternative C follows:

Though it was the most difficult, it was the right thing to do.

Basically, we men can stand, answer the bell, and come out swinging, or remain seated on the stool and throw in the towel. Since I had no Pad Cave to hide in, I chose the former of the two. Like the strong-willed man I was — or had thought myself to be — I decided to man-up, stick out my chest, hold my head high, and in the deepest voice I could muster, "demand" what I needed from an Eva Longoria look-alike.

"Excuse me, ma'am, but I ... ummmmmmm ... pads some need for my aaaaa twelve-year-old so ... DAUGHTER! See, she ... ummmmm ... just ... (not-so intelligent pause) ... started and (fake two coughs) ... I was stuck with coming to them buy (huge, yet not-so-subtle sigh, not realizing how ignorant and babyish I must have sounded to 'Eva')."

Probably because she detected my naivety, ignorance, and obvious insecurity, she had a hearty laugh at my expense. (You know the ones people try to disguise as a smiling cough?) Or, it could have even possibly been how my beet-red face went hand-in-hand with my futile masculine voiceover attempt. Undoubtedly, at that moment, I must have sounded like an amazing movie star, playing a nervous and shy fifteen-year old who was buying a condom from a grumpy, elderly female pharmacist.

"No problem. It's okay," she giggled before assuring me that my frightening mission was "normal" and proceeding to guide me to the grotesquely un-masculine boxes of ... those ... those ... unmentionables.

As we turned the corner at the end of the aisle, I heard 007's music playing again — only louder this time. For the first time since I had entered that God-awful place, to which I will never return — not even for milk — my straight and stiff lips were beginning to form an upside-down frown while my jelly-like chin was quickly returning to its manly state. My independent solo mission was almost complete; I could sense it in my bones. I was back.

Feeling the confidence returning, I finally unzipped my coat on this short aisle-to-aisle jaunt. A quick glance out the window reminded me of just how gorgeous Michigan's winter sunshine was when it reflected off the beautiful, pure white snow. Also, outside the window, I could see rather large icicles hanging, yet slowly melting away as water dripped innocently below the window and out of sight. The beautiful icy water was fading from my vision ever-so sweetly, just like my fears. Without missing a beat, I casually flipped my cap backwards — I could now hear a rather large lady belting out a tune — after all, this mission was about to be, triumphantly ... over!

Then, as quickly as I had begun smiling in color, again, civilization as I knew it stopped! The Fat Lady's tune came to a screeching halt; this crisis was far from over. In fact, at that very instant the theme music from A Nightmare on Elm Street — or was it Halloween? — began to blare. In either case, it had replaced my cocky 007 song.

Just when I had thought this incredible ordeal was at its end, "Eva" and I reached the end of the aisle and she pointed to the back wall. If not for the shelving of an aisle perpendicular to the ... the ... those, I would have been a goner. My knees buckled, my stomach turned, and my heart skipped a beat (or two). To mention that she pointed at a space on the back wall is just wrong, as all women will attest. As if she were Vanna White showcasing every word in the dictionary, "Eva" pointed to the entire back wall — not just a single section — the entire back wall.

How on earth was I supposed to select the "right kind"? A million different brands must have been on those shelves — maybe two million. For four seconds, my wide-open mouth must have looked to "Eva" as if I were catching flies. I silently gazed at the wall in wonder as I grasped onto the shelf to keep from dropping to the floor.

As if I were in the movie, The Amityville Horror, every fiber in my body was crying, "Get Out ... Get Out ...!!!" But, the newfound Padman inside of me refused to listen, even though the male spirit inside of me was running for the door in a dead sprint. That newfound "Padman" thingy made me stay.

Numerous husbands and fathers throughout the world have faced the exact same three alternatives I had forced upon myself earlier on this journey. However, just like so many of my predecessors, I opted to stay and "fight." Subsequently, by staying, I could actually feel myself morphing into ... (insert triumphant victory music HERE) ... Padman! Of course, the change was unavoidable. There was no turning back. I had, as other men unknowingly have or will, now become Padman: Conqueror of THE Fear.

As I stood in awe, looking at the ridiculously large sea of Red Storm aids and Feminine Hygiene Products, I was in dire need of some help. Since "Eva" had returned to her busywork, I did what any true-blooded man would do: I pulled out my newly-named Electronic Communicative Device (ECD a.k.a. cell phone) from my Padbelt. As I reached to smash the first digit, my initial thought was to contact my daughter. Suddenly, however, I remembered how my once-angelic daughter had so casually alerted me that since it was only her "second cycle" (those words still make me cringe) she did not know what kind I should buy because last time she had "just used Mom's pads." (Feel free to puke, now. I spewed a chunk or two in my throat when I heard that.)

So, trying my hardest to remain calm in such a potentially catastrophic situation, I ECD'd her mother, who, horrifically, was not available. Then, with no alternative left, I relayed a message to a female friend of mine, who, for privacy issues, I will simply refer to as Padgirl X2HG. With twenty-plus years of personal FH expertise under her belt, literally, she was one of many in the female fraternity well-adjusted to the Mood Pendulum swings we men cannot understand. It doesn't take a scientific study to reveal man's inability to comprehend these irregular and unannounced personality transformations. And now, my daughter was experiencing the transformation!

All of a sudden, as if I had needed to feel even more frantic and mortified, Padgirl's response rolled across my ECD. It read: "You should really talk to her mom. You don't want to get the wrong kind."

Wrong Kind?


Obviously, that tidbit threw my Padman senses for a loop. Much like a quick ZOINK appearing on the TV screen for two seconds, those two words could have easily floored me had it not been for my new Padman determination.

Nonetheless, as a dad, even just a guy, who had never had any experience with this sort of thing, I did not understand how there could be two different kinds, much-less enough to fill an ocean. In my mid-thirties, I still swore there was no difference between Coke and Pepsi, Miracle Whip and Mayonnaise, or Butter and Margarine. How could there be this many "kinds" of pads? Aren't they all engineered to stop the same, despicable thing? Was I supposed to sort through boxes, trying to locate the right "kind?" Did I shake them by my ear like a kid at Christmas? After all, I did not want to return home with the "wrong kind."


Just before I started shedding tears, my ECD interrupted me. Thankfully, it was my ex. (I nearly cried a joyous tear; not since before the breakup had I been so happy to talk to her.) After I switched ECD channels to allow verbal communication, she politely explained what "kind" to buy. So, after breathing a sigh of relief, I hung up and hastily began to peruse the "Pad Section" for the designated devices. As I confidently browsed, I was all too happy to end this gruesome, yet surprisingly educational, episode.

Then, lo-and-behold, my heart stopped — yet, again! Could this day have gotten any worse?

It was something more grotesque than Dr. Hannibal Lecter could have envisioned in one of his cannibalistic plots. When I first saw it, my stomach and throat collided, forcing a sort-of hiccup — the kind often disguised as a burp. A few small grains of yesterday's lunch and dinner ascended to the back of my throat. If not for Padman's newfound and quick-reacting intestinal reflexes, last night's meal would have spewed all over the floor and onto the not-so-glowing diagram that screamed just two, puke-inducing words: "With Wings."

When you meet someone for the first time, but you have often heard about the person, a light bulb goes off in your head, "Oh, that's her!" Likewise, when solving a difficult problem that has you really frustrated, a light bulb will brighten over your head when you arrive at the long sought after answer.


Excerpted from "Padman: A Dad's Guide to Buying ... Those and Other Tales"
by .
Copyright © 2011 Mark Elswick.
Excerpted by permission of Loving Healing Press, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Padman: A Dad's Guide to Buying ... Those,
9/9, Again: Please ENNNDDDDDD!!!,
Not Quite a Cure,
Cancer Patients Need Your ... Support!,
Red Flags of Age,
Frogger Shopping,
The Four-Letter Word Men Hate Hearing ... From Women,
Newborn to Dad: NO Multi-Tasking!,
In Front of Me?,
A Shoestring?,
Little Brooke: A TBI Story ALL Parents Need to Read,
About the Author,
Donate to TBI,

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Padman 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Heather__Dixon More than 1 year ago
One of the funniest and inspiring books I have read in a long time! Padman is a must read.