I was gonna go for a run before I sat down to do this chore, but I figure I’d feel better about myself and where’s the fun in that? There’s no better time to talk about who you’d rather be than a Monday morning after you’ve been diligently stuffing anything and everything into your face for the past 72 hours (or 20 years). So obviously, I should have kids.
Fuck off; that was written with a straight face. There are two reasons to have kids (aside from the whole procreation thing, but that’s become kinda moot because the world needs less people and anybody that has more than two kids is an asshole). One reason being you can’t be scared anymore. Or, I should say, you can’t show it. And for a guy who outwardly celebrates his inner Pussy, this would be a big step toward being what I (on this terrifying Monday) want to become: less Paul Rudd, more Clive Owen.
*Men – real Men – never use two desirable actors as their Man Barometer.
I know my Father pretty well now. He’s not even remotely close to even a shadow of the Man he fronted back in the late 80’s/early 90’s – and he’ll be the goddamned first one to tell you that. I mean, he can still scare the Dick off me when his voice turns, but, the tree is close, and alas, Pussies are We.
In 1994 he took us to a Dead show in Highgate, VT, divorce papers filed soon thereafter. I guess I was in 4th grade – we took the boat up Lake Champlain and biked the rest of the way, flashlights duct taped to the handlebars. The show’s not the point here – sure, they played an “Althea” and “Uncle John’s-->Drums-->Space-->I Want to Tell You” – the point is what happened afterward, back at the boat, back ‘round midnight. Larry (that’s my Dad’s name, but the 15 people reading this know that) put the bikes on an inner-tube and swam them back to the boat, one by one. On the third trip (it could have been the first, but I’m scrapping for details), Lowell and I hear, high up in the White Pine above us (again, scrapping), some sort of mutant marsupial battle royale. Larry’s back in the water at this point, and one of the Juice Rats falls from forty fucking feet and lands close enough to halt any potential growth my Dick had planned on post ’94 and the motherfucker scurries right out into the water, swimming inches past the Old Man. Too scared to cry, Lowell and I are squealing like stuck pigs, and the Old Man gave a casual “We’re good,” probably even throwing in a reassuring chuckle of sorts. Now, you ask him today what was pumping through his brain and he’ll tell you simply: “terror”. Lord knows, Larry’s no thespian. But that’s what being a Father can do: force you into acting like the Man your kids can tell a story about.
There was another story in the holster for the first reason to have kids (being stop being comfortable seeming scared). It involved Larry taking the hook out of the mouth of an eel down on the Long Island Sound when that sumbitch reverse coiled up his arm and I don’t quite remember because I was, like, four or five and my vision went static with fear but (seemingly) nonplussed Larry just peeled the fucker off and threw it back into the water. I guess I just told the story.
The one other reason to have kids is so somebody in the world – if only for a few years - thinks you’re the Best.
It had to have been ’89 or ’90. Fuck me, that just doesn’t seem that long ago. I should go for a run. (Fuck you, embrace it.) And in those years and the ones immediately surrounding it, I measured everyone’s accomplishments and successes based on one criterion: Speed. If you were fast, you could probably provide. If you were fast, hell, you could probably cook, sing, draw and build a deck, too. Fuck Carl Lewis: Larry was faster. So, when Shane Kelly said at the bus stop one Fall morning “I’m faster than your Dad,” you can imagine that after a feeble attempt at laughing it off, I did what I’ve always done in the face of adversity: I cried.
Shane Kelly was probably three or four years my senior, and he was arguably the biggest piece of shit I’ve met in all of these 31 years. I’ve met some shitty people, but that fucking kid was so gross – some inbred future meth-head crawled through the sewers of Lebanon, NH and snuck his way into our pretty fine Vermont lives. Don’t get me started. Fuck, I can just end it here: I hope he’s dead.
So motherfucker keeps talking shit, every morning, and I keep crying, everyday. Pleading with the Old Man to just fucking smoke that greasy shit weasel – to put that scumbag in his place. But Larry chose not to run.
What was I gonna do? Fuck it. Fuck everybody. I walked out to the bus-stop one morning, accepting defeat on my Old Man’s behalf. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was just time to fucking grow up and learn the hard way: There’s only one person you can count on in this world and that’s Yoursel...and that’s when I heard our front door open from across the street and I knew: My Old Man was about to race a pretty quick nine-year-old.
I gotta give my Mom credit, because I think she gave the green light on the race. And then I gotta (begrudgingly) give Shane credit because that’s probably the last time my parents agreed on something. My brother says that I’m tripping when I insist that the Old Man had a coffee cup in his hand and actually took a sip halfway to the stop sign. But he did because he could because I say so because you make your parents what they are even if history or they themselves don’t remember ever feeling that Great.
Yeah, maybe a trust fund wouldn’t have sucked. But who am I to say anything? I sat on the couch all day yesterday humming a fucking Coldplay song and worrying about my hairline and the fact of the matter is: You can’t do that shit when you’re The Fastest Man in the World.