CHRISTMAS VACATION: CONFESSIONS OF A CONFUSED DOUCHE
SECTION TWO: CINCINNATI, OHIO
Chapter XIV: The Top 3 Reasons I Could Never Commit Suicide
I was too big of a loser to ever have kids. The thought of having my own family with a wife and kids never even seemed like a rational notion. Furthermore, I generally do not even like kids. There is nothing worse than eating at a restaurant and a large group of kids enter; in fact the mere sight of children period in a restaurant is grounds for a hasty departure. Listening to suburban parents explain disciplinary lessons to their children while in a store has the same chilling effect as being wakened by that annoying neighbor who operates a leaf blower at 7:00 on Sunday; any given episode of American Idol or Glee also has this effect; a mere glimpse I once saw of Zooey Deschanel singing one line in commercial for whatever stupid TV show she plays in was even worse.
The code of ethics instilled by the typical Mommy Blogger is excruciating. I do not care if kids cuss… even at age 8. Honestly, I do not care if 8 year kids watch R Rated movies, listen to Satanic death metal, play inappropriate video games, consume alcohol in excess, or even smoke weed. Fuck it, I don’t even care if they decide to run off and join a cult… it’s none of my business. As long as they are not bothering anybody or making a bunch of racket in the restaurant, I am perfectly content with any of their decisions. As a matter of fact, I would rather witness a 10 year child watching Shortbus than listen to his/her white Suburban TV-bred mommy discuss the dangers of it.
Some kids are tolerable, and some are actually considerably cool. These kids are generally raised from a different set of standards than the typical Mommy Blogger Guidebook. Unfortunately, people rarely display pictures of these kids; the spoiled kids whose pointless photographs are overexposed tend to be the most annoying. I have issues with following “the” protocol for raising children; they say you should… Fuck what they say; "they" are unreliable narrators. Kids from an open set of guidelines tend to be more brilliant.
Unfortunately, all of the above mentioned principles are considerably distasteful to the majority. It is my own awareness of my unsuitable surmise that is most unsettling. These are opinions that I generally keep to myself while in the presence of others; except for those who also do not have children nor have any desire to ever have any. There also seems to be several parents with many of the beliefs as I have, although the mention of smoking pot might be excessive—even on my own terms.
On the contrary, the top three reasons I could never contemplate suicide are my brother’s three kids. While in their presence, all of my objectionable opinions are suspended completely for the entire duration of the visit. In fact, these kids make me strive to be a better person entirely, which sometimes makes me wish I was a different person altogether.
Surprisingly, they are not too far removed from the type of upbringing that I am opposed. All rules have exceptions and these three kids are the exception that brilliance cannot come from strong Christian influenced conservative upbringing. I am not biased either in this regard. Being as I am documenting personal experiences with open blunt honesty, if I had any doubts regarding their unique qualities, I would shamelessly broach all concerns involving the matter.
On a more positive note, being a huge loser often equates to being a cool uncle. These three are the closest thing I will ever have to kids. With all due respect to the rest of family, the kids were the most important priority on my visitation list. It had been over two years since I saw them last, and was actually a bit miserable over that. Although I am more than likely hidden from their friendship networks because of strong language, I have followed their progress and view all their latest photographs with the same anticipation I approach a record release of my favorite bands.
Tim (my brother) and Caroline (my sister-in-law) know a small portion of my considerably controversial nature. They know that it exists, but do not know all of the details involved. For the most part, they would not approve with how I conduct myself in several social environments. However, they have never expressed any disapproval towards my conduct around the kids. I believe they might actually be shocked with how virtuous my demeanor is around the kids. They have expressed extreme delight for how much the kids love me. It is, to say the least, a most wonderful relationship. We have never had a bad visit.
Even though I had made a pact to conduct myself in a manner that represents my natural persona, I will make slight modifications in their presence. While I can display even my most absurd creative eccentricity, I do not cuss around them, discuss unsuitable adult oriented material, and restrict my smoking habit so they have no exposure to it. To my knowledge, these kids have never seen me smoke a cigarette—yet somehow they know I smoke. (Alyssa has always confronted me about this: What were you doing outside? Nothing. You were smoking weren't you? Nope.)
Despite the mild adjustments I have to make in order to appeal to the moral principles established by the said parents, somehow my level of entertaining qualities is heightened around these kids. We always have fun and often engage in the most outrageous of conversations. There is a certain degree of enjoyment involved with fabricating the most ridiculous of tales to share with children. The amount of creativity one can emit is unlimited; commonly why creators of cartoons are considered genius.
Since I hadn’t seen them in over 2 years (their ages are Alyssa 10, Isaiah 8, and Ella 5) I feared they had completely forgotten about me. Or, they had changed drastically and I was no longer relevant. I was prepared for either scenario and could improvise an entire new relationship if needed. All concerns immediately subsided the moment they walked in the door. It was a happy moment, they were happy to see me—me them, and before long we were playing games and acting silly.
Unlike when I was growing up, if any of these kids develop special skills, I will make sure the whole world knows about it. Alyssa at age 10 is already a near-Olympic caliber gymnast. There is a video showcasing one of her performances featuring her executing acrobatic flips, which, in my opinion, is the most exciting portion of the gymnastics floor routine. The common reaction is always, “oh my God, is that you?” Her response was always, “why does everybody always say that?”
Furthermore, we went to the movies to see Les Miserable’s, even though Tim and I really wanted to see Django Unchained (Tim got stuck watching Parental Guidance with the younger kids.) I’m not 100% positive Alyssa liked the movie and I doubt she fully understood it. On the way home though, Caroline mentioned that she wanted to purchase the soundtrack, in which Alyssa responded, “Why? It’s just opera.” She proceeded to nail the perfect opera note by simply trying to make fun of it. With those abilities combined, I think she could be a superstar on Broadway. I wanted to record a comedy routine with her involving me asking absurd questions about opera and her answering them by singing in that pitch; but she declined due to the fact that the world was experiencing one of those phases of the moon where a 10 year old girl has to flaunt the ability to say the word “no.”
People used to attempt to quiz me with long math equations because I could add faster than a calculator. When I worked at the Shell station in Asheville, I had memorized all the prices of cigarettes. After ringing up their order, they requested cigarettes, and then I would tell them the total that it was going to be without yet entering it. The purpose of this was to speed up the efficiency of the line with the intentions that these people would have their money ready when I returned with the cigarettes—which was several paces away. Instead, they stood there staring at the screen that displayed the total, just to see if I was right or not. This became a tourist attraction as people were enamored with this ability (people even began entering in large groups to combine their orders by requesting several different brands of cigarettes just to see if I could accurately state the total.)
At age 8, Isaiah is showing signs to also possess this ability. I attempted to recollect what I was learning in 3rd Grade, but found it irrelevant. Instead, I just put him to the test to see if it was legitimate. I asked him 28 + 17, he thought about for a few seconds and then answered correctly; 48 + 86, same result. My ex-girlfriend was horrible in math and she wouldn’t have solved either equation correctly (unless you consider “I don’t know, fuck math” a numeric integer for both 45 and 134.)
“You mean I’m smarter than some adults.” He added up the entire putt putt scores in his head too.
Isaiah cheated at putt putt and pretty much everything else. It wasn't malicious cheating; it simply his own comedy routine. We played three rounds that mostly consisted of Isaiah making a completely horrible shot and then starting over (as if two grown men were going to be ultra-competitive at putt putt at the mall and force Isaiah to play by all the rules). The young man has some extremely comedic mannerisms too, with some sheer entertaining qualities.
Tim claimed Isaiah reminded him of me, although he didn't seem overly happy about that. Isaiah constantly walks the fine line of what he can get away with and what is ultimately impermissible, dipping into the forbidden zones periodically just to see the response. He was conducting some sort of mischief in the kitchen and Tim lectured him about the matter. Rather than simply accepting his fate, Isaiah questioned the morale of the situation and implied several other scenarios in order to justify the notion that he had not violated any rules whatsoever. My brother seemed a bit perturbed, shook his head, pointed at me, and declared—“He’s just like you.”
Ella and I truly bonded for the first time. Last time I saw her, she was only 3, so we had not ever become that extremely close for I am simply not good with babies or extremely small children—I just don’t have that mentality where I can do the “goo goo ga ga” type of thing. We were just beginning to form a close relationship just before I moved. For this particular trip, she was actually who I spent the most time around; some could have argued that we had become surgically attached.
Those who know me best (those who know my radical side) would be downright shocked with the relationship that I have with these kids. If certain individuals saw me playing merrily with three kids, they would more than likely collapse to the ground, frothing at the mouth, while spinning around half consciously with violent convulsions. Most people automatically assume that there is not one single set of parents in existence that would approve of me interacting with their children. Due to the underlying circumstances involving these two extremes, it almost feels as if I am juggling multiple lifestyles.
There are numerous aspects of life that people do not wish children to ever be exposed, and this goes beyond obscenity regulations. In actuality, at least in a humane society, parents would rather their children hear cuss words than be exposed to the wretched conditions impoverished class struggle. Alyssa was actually petrified from a scene in Les Miserable’s. No, it wasn't the scenes of war or the gunshots; it was the gruesome scene in the impoverished streets where Fantine had to resort to prostitution and selling her hair and teeth in order to provide for her child. When she told me about it, I used that as a good time to give her a brief lesson on The French Revolution without delving too deeply into Marxism; her reaction to that impoverished condition gave me hope for the future and validated that the child is a truly good person at heart.
Most suburbanite mommies have never even witnessed that sort of lifestyle—and that might be why their kids are such douches and Tim’s kids are so awesome. Tim and I have seen those conditions firsthand. We grew up in a neighborhood in which our neighbor across the street was shot and killed in a drug deal gone awry, our next door neighbor is currently serving a life sentence for pedophilia, and three of the houses on the block no longer exist because of arson. There were phases were our electric would be shut off—in the middle of winter and the $13,000 house would be freezing cold. Our house was a complete pig sty—quite possibly the worst I have ever seen; the roof had even caved in on one occasion and was never repaired. Our childhood environment was as ugly as any I've ever seen. Since that time, the three members of that house (my overworked father who had been recently divorced (it wasn't until I got older before I realized all of the negative effects of divorce and working two jobs) and Tim and I around the ages of 13 & 14) are emphatically ashamed of the conditions in which we endured… it had a long term effect on all of us.
It has been suggested that Tim and I are complete opposites; and to a certain degree there is much truth in that. However, we are both fueled by the same litigation, and that is the anguish that emerged from residing in that wretched environment as long as we did. Plus, he had three beautiful kids and I had none. Tim sings in his church and works for a blue chip corporation—so that his kids will never have to suffer in the same conditions that we endured. Me, I analyzed every possible aspect of the world that allowed those environments to exist in the first place. As a result, I developed a certain amount of disgust for a multitude of malevolent essentials that mold our society and have unleashed a relentless assault on the doctrines of American life. We might have adopted two completely different counteractions, but, in actuality, both results have been spawned from the same cause… deep down inside, I feel that we both know this, and have a great deal of respect for each other.
Index: Chapter List
1. Paul McCartney & Wings
"Let 'Em In" 5:12
Wings At The Speed Of Sound
2. Knutsen & Ludvigsen
"Hallo! Hallo!" 2:32
3. Danielson Famile
"We Don't Say Shut Up" 2:06
Fetch the Compass Kids
4. The New Seekers
"I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" 3:46
We'd Like to Teach the World to Sing
5. Thin Lizzy
"The Boys Are Back In Town" 4:30
6. The Fiery Furnaces
"Name Game / Inca Rag" 3:56
"Brand New Key" 2:24
8. Field Music
"You're Not Supposed To" 2:37
Write Your Own History
9. Family Fodder
"Mack The Knife-Windmills" 7:15
10. Cat Power
"Colors and the Kids" 6:36
All Sections Written, Designed, and Music Compiled by Tony J. Neal
Soccer Mom Image from Striding Mom
Les Miserable's Image: Fantine, played by Anne Hathaway, character created by Victor Hugo, Directed by Tom Hopper Da Ponta Da Lingua.