“…THAT I KNOW OF!” I said and her face stuck into a shocked mask. I was 14, talking to this popular girl at my private school and dribbling a basketball clumsily in the tree-ringed parking lot behind the cafeteria.
“Uhhhh” she said, “what really?”
I have no idea why I was intimating to this girl, a friend really, not even someone I was trying to date, that I was the kind of 9th grader who had so much sex with random fertile chicks that I couldn’t even keep track of after I unprotectedly finished my championship 14-year-old business with them. Would the lie have made more sense if I had been trying to date her? Certainly not less. Definitely not more. She was simply, understandably, weirded the hell out.
I had just come over from public school the year before so I had a secret past I liked to play up with the rich kids. Some if it was exaggerating the amount of vandalism my hooligan public school metalhead friends accomplished on a weekendly basis, but I was branching out now into turning a few furtive makeout sessions with knife-tattooed goth girls on the back stairs into full blown Schrödinger’s bastards.
I crumpled in shame. “No, no. No. Not really. I just. I mean I haven’t. No.”
She looked relieved. The world was back to not being a place where barely-teen douches with the sides of their heads shaved drop babies into strangers and then disappear into TOTAL unknowability.
I tell you all that for reasons of saying this. This braggadocios idiot is now fully responsible for a human being of my own creation. I say “my” creation because my wife really had very little to do with it. I mean, sure, she took my casual seed and inculcated it, through miracles, into a zygote which she supplied with her blood and 100% of her nutrients for 9 months, and then with 5 minutes of training by a nurse taught herself to agonizingly use muscles she didn’t even know existed to seamlessly propel the child through her body into the air where she immediately began to provide it (her) with her actual flesh turned into food. Sure. But I, I am the one who sings Jonathan Richman to her while changing her diaper when I bother to be home with her. That my friends, is real parenting.
Here’s a list:
1. The one (1) thing, maybe the only thing, that every single person on the planet has in common is that two people made some choices and created them. At least two people. No less than two. And the difference between those parental choices: is culture. That’s all. It’s not your think pieces on sexist video games. Nor is it, tragically, Mad Men. My decision to dance around in front of the changing table singing “Rockin’ Robin” and snapping my fat fingers and whistling tunelessly while my daughter (sometimes) smiles about it, has approximately ten hundred times more impact on the future of our society than every MoMA video art exhibition ever installed, and I don’t even know most of the words to “Rockin Robin”! And I don’t even really consciously choose to do anything, it’s just like “here we go time to shape your life little one put this superhero cape on so I can post you on Instagram you’re welcome or I’m sorry.” If I was a Mongolian goatherd I’d be leaving her in the dirt to milk the goats and that would be fine too. But I’m not so I don’t. Free will rules!
That’s the end of the list. I have more responsibility than any man should ever have and am wholly unprepared for it. It’s like I’m driving on a dark road falling asleep and the only guidelines are neon Do Not Enter signs with my father’s face on them, He always pouted whenever we forgot Father’s Day, so my plan is to smash with a hammer any gift my kids get me to show them that they are the most important thing in my life. “Father’s Day is a lie told by advertising demons to sell more corncob pipes!” I will shout, pieces of corncob pipe flying everywhere as my daughter sagely nods in understanding. She is genius have I mentioned that? Extremely advanced for her age in terms of “hilarious comedy dancing comprehension”.
I am the same dummy I was who pretended to be a bad father in High School, except now I’m pretending to be a good father to impress the same people plus any Social Services types who might be listening. I am actually a good Dad though, because I admit I have no idea what I am doing. I feel like if I keep doing that, I will be absolved of at least 50% of the blame when my choices turn out to have screwed my kid up. “Thanks a lot Dad now I have a fear of art because you hung a Nugent album cover (Weekend Warriors) on the wall in my room when I was .02. But oh wait you didn’t know that would make me strange? Nevermind, we’re cool, let’s go to the Weird Twitter Mashup Festival or whatever young people do in 2035.” I can’t promise to do the right thing, because I don’t know what that is, so I hope that the thing I am doing that feels right will at worst be forgivable, and at best be laughable. And I’m open to suggestions. Unless you want me to vaccinate her, which, hell no. That shit causes Brain Overbalance and Spectrumism. Look it up.