Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Father Knew Best

My Daddy took me out for a walk in the field behind our house one day and he said to me--

"Son, I'm going to tell you about the birds and the bees. But this is gonna be different from the way other fathers talk to their sons about the birds and the bees. I could stand here and tell you how babies are made and what contraception is, but that's not going to do you a lick of good in the long run.

"Because girls are never going to like you, son. I wish I could tell you different. I wish I could tell you that all that talk of love and procreation is going to apply to you as much as it will to the normal kid down the road. But it won't.

"Because girls are never going to like you. And that's going to be the hardest fact of life to swallow. But once you can swallow that fact, you can swallow any other facts that come along in this life. Sure, there'll be times where you're going to forget that girls don't like you and you might put your head on the chopping block and ask one out--hell, you may even marry one--but they're never going to like you.

"Son, this ain't to say that girls won't admire you, respect you, or even want to be your friend. It just means they're never going to LIKE you.

"And I don't even think you're going to remain a virgin. I think you'll get lucky here and there. And that's all you'll get--lucky. Not liked. Sexual fortune may swing your way just as it does for even the most socially maladjusted among us. And in that arena, I'll leave it to you to prod around in the dark, clumsily groping your way around a young woman's body, improvising as needs be, taking instructions from off-color remarks heard on the playground and in 80s teen flicks. You'll do all right, I'm sure. But that's not going to change the underlying fact that girls just aren't going to like you.

"You're going to talk too much, for one. You're going to feel bad about this and talk more to try to rectify the problem. This'll snowball, of course. You'll drive them batty. They'll come to regard your absence as something positive. Generally, girls don't like a talkin' man. Their magazines might say different. But son, you don't need to be reading their magazines anyway.

"Because girls don't like a man who reads their magazines.

"You'll be too passionate about things that you believe in. You'll speak forcibly, alternately pissing them off and frightening them away. It also won't help matters that the things you believe in are most likely going to be diametrically opposite of the things that they believe in.

"As a result of their ongoing dislike, you'll continue to revert inward. You'll try as you can to find comfort in the wasteland of solititude that is your birthright. From this, you'll start to develop an artistic talent of some sort.

"I'm sure by now, you've probably started to develop a love affair with the past. At this stage, I would say go ahead and nurture that all you'd like, son. Because in the day and age in which you're actually going to be living--girls are never going to like you. And because of your infatuation with history, you'll appear older than you actually are--but this won't pass for virility or wisdom. It'll be construed as an albatross of joylessness which no self-respecting young woman would ever wear as an accessory.

"You'll have flings with women who are destined to marry men with more conventional lifestyles. You will be their 'token artist'; a memory of their younger, misguided selves, before they became practical and married men with money or looks or both.

"You'll continue to take refuge in your art. This will ease the pain up to a point until applied to girls. Once you realize its fallibility in attracting members of the opposite sex, there will come a time where you will regard your art with scorn and disdain. Soon, you will come to blame the art itself for the fact that girls don't like you. Quite likely, you will reflect upon the possibility of abandoning the art altogether. In a search for a specific and defineable cause for your isolation, you will excise the very thing that has allowed you to survive in this wilderness.

"You'll feel two insatiable and cognitively dissonant desires bubbling simultaneously within you--to be like everybody else, and to be like nobody else. You'll fail on both counts.

"Like I say, you'll forget at times that girls don't like you and this will lead you in spates of foolishness to approach them. Invariably, you will be rejected. Character will be built from this rejection. Up to a point. And then that same character will be whittled away until you are nothing more than a negation of your former self (which wasn't much to begin with). In other words, son, what doesn't kill you will make you stronger until it decides to finally kill you.

"You'll scare them away, or simply revolt them, with your bumbling shyness which will only get incrementally worse over time. For the more introverted you become, the harder it's going to be to open your mouth and your ears to a hypothetical 'other person'. Over time, girls will cease to be real in your mind. They will become abstractions of love and comfort always just out of your reach. Your heart will be so heavy, only hate will keep you moving.

"You should also know that you're going to die alone. Your fantasies of becoming rich and famous and, by default, no longer alone in this world will be revealed as the security-blanket phantasms they are. And by dying alone, you'll die in the truest sense. Without family, without friends, without love. Nothing into nothing.

"And that is the future that awaits you, my son," said my Daddy before handing me his gun, "are you sure you want to go through with it?"

I thought for a second. And then I handed back the gun. "I think I'll wait and see," I said.

I'm older now. Maybe father really did know best.