Recently in family Category

sister's day

Just how celebrated was the one day a year my mother made me breakfast? Once when my mom was hospitalized for the first day of school, my adult sister came over to make me breakfast...because this grand familial tradition simply could not be missed.

Perhaps not coincidentally, I never eat breakfast as an adult. If friends want to go out to breakfast and there are only breakfast foods on the menu, I am annoyed.

"Just iced tea, please."


"Can you build me a web site?" said another woman, mere days after the last one. I'm related to this latest person, so it's not what you're thinking. Apparently I have an odor, and it smells like free labor.

And thus have I embarked on building her a blog. "I want it to chronicle the things in life that I'm grateful for," she said.

"Are you sure we're related?" I replied.

"Just to serve as a reminder to me, if nothing else."

"Seriously, is it possible there was a mixup at one of our hospitals?"

"Ha ha!"

She is achingly sweet and curiously guileless. I guess I'm happy to be related to such a person, but I also wonder what's in our relationship for her. A free blog, I suppose.

And thus, 17 years after I created Stank, I now embark on creating its exact opposite.

I was telling Amy about my father when she made a suggestion.

What she said: "You should totally post about this!"

What I heard: "You should totally stop telling me about this!"

• • •

Talking about my Dad is a double-edged sword. To simply say that I had a crap dad is insufficient. "Yeah, I know," people will say. "My family is dysfunctional too." Well, no. We are almost certainly not peers. You will not hear about soccer practice or Christmas in my stories. My dad wasn't crap because he didn't hug me enough, or because he hurt my feelings, or because he occasionally hit me. He was an unrepentant monster. I gots plenty of examples. For the purpose of this post, let's just say that he's dead, I'm glad he's dead, and if he still felt anything at all, he'd probably be glad he's dead, too.

And there's really no way of conveying this without getting into gory details that, I've found, people just don't want to hear.

Except for the cross-dressing. You guys eat that stuff up.

• • •

With Amy, I talked about muddling my way toward manhood without the aid of anything remotely resembling a positive male role model. I knew who I definitely didn't want to be, but that didn't give me a direction any more than knowing you don't want to drive to Chicago gets you to Miami. There was a lot of trial and error on my road to manhood. For the most part, it was the women beside me who shaped me, often against their will and at their own expense. First my mom, then my girlfriends and girl friends sweated blood chiseling me into a facsimile of a man. Anything redeeming about me today, you can bet I learned from a woman.

But when I was a kid, my role models were fictional men. Rick from Casablanca was one. He was and remains my masculine ideal, from his grudging courage to his gallows wit to his mannequin-mashing kissing style.

Captain Renault: What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault: The waters? What waters?
Rick: I was misinformed.

But there was one guy who was everything I wanted to be, and I thought about him day and night. That guy was a rabbit. And a cross-dresser, come to think of it. Let's not read too much into that.

More than any flesh-and-blood male, Bugs Bunny taught me about life, about coolness, about justice, and—unfortunately for everyone in my presence—about pronunciation and about conflict resolution.

What I loved about Bugs, what I still love, is that he usually finishes fights but he never, ever starts them. This ethic appealed to me tremendously. It still does. Don't start none, won't be none.

It was as an adult that I read Chuck Jones "Chuck Amuck." (If you grew up on the Warner Brothers cartoons as I did, you simply must read this.) In it, the director articulates his golden rule: "Bugs must always be provoked." This, I realized instantly, was the ethic I had internalized as a child. The rest of my family were the Elmers and Daffys and roid-raging wrestlers and psychotic opera singers. They went looking for trouble.

But me? At my best, I sit alone in my rabbit hole, munching carrots, watching my stories on TV, minding my own business. If no one starts dropping red sticks of dynamite down the hole, they'll never even know I'm there. But people being jerks, they invariably they start with the dynamite.

Of course, you realize this means war.

fiddla, please

When my mother purchased music at this thing we used to call "record stores," she walked right past the Pop/Rock and R&B sections and went straight to the Atrocities section. As I was tethered to her, this means that my formative years were replete with abominations like Barry Manilow's "Copacabana," Morris Albert's "Feelings," the Captain and Tennille's "Love Will Keep us Together," and Neil Diamond's "Turn on Your Heartlight."

So to those of you who think me a douche, I say that's fair, but I also assure you that is the best possible outcome. Given the aural cesspool from which I sprang, you're lucky I didn't open fire in my teens.

Among her many gifts to me is that I still—still!—know all the words to the Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack. It's horrible. It haunts me. I catch myself singing it, and then with a jolt I'm throughly disgusted with myself, as if I'd just awoken to find myself having sex with a particularly homely underaged yak.

This morning's incident involved Matchmaker, Matchmaker, in which idiotic teen girls sing about the vapid man of their retarded dreams.

For Papa,
Make him a scholar.
For mama,
Make him rich as a king.
For me, well,
I wouldn't holler
If he were as handsome as anything.
I had never considered these lyrics as an adult. They peg mothers' and teenage girls' priorities well enough, but fathers? Where are these fathers-in-law who value scholarship? I've seen them value money, or their daughters' continued dependence on them, or money, or whether or not I believe in the correct invisible man in the sky, but I've yet to meet a dad who gave a single flying crap about my scholarly accomplishments.

black sheep

My sister chided me at the Ohio State/Michigan game. "I cannot believe you're booing the Michigan band," she said, face in hands.

"The only reason I'm booing is because I don't have any 9-volt batteries," I explained.

kill switch

My mom taught me to tune women out entirely. This got me through my teen years relatively sane, but when I started dating women, it became a bit of an issue. And when I started working for 'em, it became life threatening.

"John, did you reorganize the requests?"

"Why would I have done that?"

"Because I asked you to yesterday."

"You most certainly did not."

"God! Yes I did! And you nodded and 'uh-huhed' me the whole time, and then when I asked, you repeated it all back to me."

"That doesn't sound familiar."

When I found this conversation recurring, of course, I saved my career (and doomed my relationships) by learning to listen to women. The only artifact of my onetime disability is if a woman, probably Dorkass, begins a sentence with "You know what your problem is?" Bam. My brain hits the kill switch on my ears. You could hold a $1000 bill in front of my face, and I wouldn't be able to repeat what followed "is."

moron taxonomy
stupid church signs
super bowl xl officiating
percy chronicles

Monthly Archives