Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Family Nagging, Badgering

Part 11 of 30
Self-Abuse September

I’ve always treasured the love and understanding of grandparents. They’re different from your parents, not quite as strict, but strict enough to give you plausible deniability in spite of their various indiscretions of leniency. You’re staying with them, you get home late, and they pretend to be asleep as you crawl through the window, huffing and puffing from someone’s father chasing you across town, then honking his horn for an hour challenging you to come out for a duel.

The next morning at the breakfast table there’s not a word about it. Just Grandpa demurely saying he has a few bullet holes on the house to patch up, no big deal. They pass the eggs and give you nothing but the look of love and pride as you stuff your mouth and stow the rest in your jacket pocket before dashing out of the house to god knows where. “That’s my boy,” I imagine them saying, “he’s going to sire a lot of babies and make sure our family name lives forever.”

Not a chance in hell, of course. He could never find anyone to answer the question appropriately, “Who gives this woman to be this man’s bride?” And even if he did there’s always the question about someone with a reason why they should not be joined together. And if no one else speaks up he has enough ventriloquist talents to fake an objection from somewhere in the room. "She got me that close just to be unceremoniously dumped at the altar..."

The wise and restless spirit of man knows he can’t be tied down to any one person for more than a day or hour. Hence the constant cheating that goes on everyday, making a sad mockery of the vows wedding guests think are sincere and meaningful. And if partners to cheat with are absent -- the sad aftermath of nuclear wars and pesky attacks -- there’s always self-abuse, forever one’s truest devotion in the face of ever-present enemies and family hangers-on and their whole selfish approach to family, the nagging attachment that has a tight grip.

This grandpa’s certainly the wisest most lenient grandpa I’ve heard of, even in the face of knowing that their grandson Jim can hardly wait to get out of their sight to spill his seed somewhere else, who cares where? Indeed, Jim thinks, "I'm a man of the world. I can't stand to be tied down. I could spring into action at any moment. These guys are cramping my style, the old folks of home." He's dying for a wild session of self-abuse but somewhere else is preferable. On an infestation of thistles, on broken glass, somewhere like that where he'd be alone in nature. “Get me out of here,” he whispers to himself, even as Grandpa offers the solitude and freedom of the bathroom, presumably for as long as it takes, which would mean the rest of the family sitting all day in the living room, stoved up, turning blue with backup, while he idled his way through the underwear section of an old Sears catalog.

Yes, we’re all blessed with family. Whether they themselves were an accident or actually wanted, no one remembers the full story. Those secrets were taken to the grave long ago. But if we had to guess, they would've been just as content if we’d never been born.

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