Friday, September 7, 2012

Off Season Post 38: A Missive to Some Guy, Jr.

Hello, Readers. Thank you for allowing me the time off. All of you have been especially patient and kind over the past couple of weeks. I traveled to the West Texas Mecca, Snyder, for my annual dove hunt and John Wayne Film Festival put on by my fancy Hollywood friends over Labor Day Weekend. I lend both manual labor and some of my lawyerin’ skills to that festival and it’s always a highlight of my year. Special thanks to my friend Barry for tolerating my drunken behavior on his ranch and to the Wayne kids and grand kids. I’ll try and make it out to California in October. It was nice seeing all of you again. Special thanks to all of the dove we shot. You were delicious. I’m sorry that whole symbol of peace thing didn’t earn you any favors.

A couple of pictures of Snyder, Texas.

West Texas Sign.

Johnson House where we stayed.  Tons of History.  Google it.

Me and Barry Corbin.  He's been in everything, but he'll always be Uncle Bob from
Urban Cowboy to me.

Now, let's get to it.

As you are all keenly aware, I rely heavily upon reader feedback for ideas during the Off Season. My writing inspiration comes from unsolicited thoughts that pop into my head from some unknown place like Saturn, Uranus or, more often than not, my own anus. However, in order for those thoughts to hatch, they must be cultivated by the symbiotic relationship that I as the writer share with you as the readers.

I received many, many kind emails and comments last week after soliciting you like a New Orleans hooker at 3 a.m. I was touched (and we all know how I like to be touched) and humbled by your sincerity and candor and I appreciated your willingness to share intimate, often difficult, pieces of yourselves with me for the sake of simply telling me that you like what I do here. Thank you for that. Many of you communicated hardships. Some of you communicated reaching huge milestones in your lives. All of you asked me to keep writing. Thank you again.

In going back over the correspondence I noticed a couple of big themes. Many of you who wrote me are parents and—as it should be—your main focus was on doing everything in your power to see to it that your children are given every opportunity to avoid as much pain in their lives as possible. One email in particular focused on this subject and ended with a question that intrigued and, in fact, inspired me. 

Sherry from Nevada wrote to tell me about leaving a physically and verbally abusive husband taking with her no money, no car, and few options. She told me that her children, 5 and 7 at the time, were her reason for living. She told me that she got her education, found a job, and raised her children while struggling to keep her head and her finances above water. She talked in depth about how dark and difficult her life became at times and how the thought, “what will I tell my children” kept running through her head when she wanted to give up. Sherry told me that it was the possibility of looking into her children’s eyes and having to concede failure that prevented her from giving up. I’m happy to report that both of her children are in college today (one of them on scholarship) and that Sherry is remarried and living a comfortable life somewhere on the pointy end of Nevada. 

Sherry wasn’t the only one who wrote me about that type of struggle. However, she ended her email with the following sentence. “Whenever you get down on yourself and feel like quitting, just ask yourself what you would want to tell your child about yourself and you’ll find the strength to continue.” Well put, Sherry. 

Inspired by that sentence, I wondered how I’d like my child to think of me and what I think is absolutely essential to know. The following post is a list I jotted down spontaneously after reading Sherry’s email. Perhaps my child will read this one day.

A Letter to My Son

Dear Some Guy, Jr.,

Below is a bunch of stuff you’ll need to know in your life. After all, dick jokes will only get you so far. 

Love, Dad

P.S. (This list is in no way all-inclusive and I respectfully reserve the right to amend it into perpetuity.)

First, there is nothing that will make me stop loving you. There is and will always be only one of you. The love a parent has for a child can never be understood in reverse. You will never understand that the act of simply looking at you awakens every cell in my body each and every time I see you.

When I see you, I see myself as a child before I was corrupted by the world around me. I see myself before there were consequences in my life; before there were mistakes. I see before you a clean slate and I know you will be better than I am one day. I see possibility and I fear that any word I utter to you will dampen it. I pray every night that I am alive to see you with your children and see you finally understand what I feel for you now.

On that note, don’t be too chickenshit to call me when get picked up by the police for doing something stupid like mooning or stealing a street sign. Yes, there will be consequences but that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh about it together one day. You’ll inevitably find this blog and blackmail me with it.  

Second, it's all right to cry. Some of life’s greatest things come at the cost of sadness. Being in touch with that emotion and allowing yourself to fully experience it will help you be an empathetic person. Empathy is a valuable gift. Possessing it is one thing but letting others benefit from it is another. Do not be ashamed to cry. Just don’t forget that eventually, no matter what happens, your smile will return. However, don’t get too carried away with the crying. I want you to be human, not a pu*sy. If someone shoves you, that’s often a time for shoving back, not crying.   

Even your smartest friends are idiots. There will come a day when your mind is sharper than mine. You will know more about the world around you than I know. You will be quick. I will be slow. You will be strong. I will be weak. That day is not now. Neither you nor your friends have the life experience I have so, for the time being, I know better than you and all of your friends. Respect that and you’ll find that—like a mushroom with a 12 inch penis—I’m a pretty fungi to be around. Remember, a friend will help you move but a real friend will help you move a body.

Never go near a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Trust me on this one. 

In light of the last gem, please understand that people make mistakes. I am your father, which means that you will likely believe well into your adult life that I am incapable of making the wrong decision. You will realize that this is false very suddenly and it will come as a shock to you. While it is important for you as a child to view me as your role model, your protector, and the center of your world, it is also imperative when you become an adult for you to see me as a human being. Knowing that I can make a mistake will also allow you to understand that every person in your life can and will make mistakes. Learning to truly forgive is a rare gift. The first step toward acquiring that gift is to fully accept the inherent flaws inside of us all—including yourself.

The above piece of advice doesn’t mean that you get a free pass in life. A conscious, intentional bad choice in contradiction to a well-formed conscience in the face of clear boundaries does not qualify as a mistake. You are required to make an effort toward assisting me in making you into a well-rounded, well-equipped adult. Mistakes happen but you will be required by me to be accountable for yours. I will return the favor by admitting and being accountable for mine. 

Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same thing. You’ll learn this (or a version of it) when you step to the plate in your little league game in the 9th inning with the bases loaded with the game tied. I hope that you’ll be ambitious-minded and physically gifted enough to try and hit a home run and win the game. However, I pray that you’ll be intelligent enough to know that you can accomplish the same thing by leaning into the pitch and allowing it to hit you in the ribs.

Trust the voice inside of your head more than you trust other people’s voice inside your ear. The old adage, “if you’ve got it, flaunt it” does not apply to stupidity. Your conscience is usually correct.   

Decisiveness is an admirable quality but you’re allowed to change your mind. However, never substitute a well-informed, quick decision with recklessness. Think.  

Be helpful and thoughtful. This could have easily been included in the “it’s ok to cry” paragraph above. However, it bears repeating. Helping people in any capacity will pay itself back tenfold. Treat people as you want to be treated and you will find great joy in simple things. Sometimes it is difficult to set aside your own self interest in order to help someone. Humility is important, however, and there is no better way to taste Humility than by cleansing your palate with a big swig of Pride. The good news about Pride is that there never seems to be a shortage of it. The only way to get rid of it is to swallow it.   

By the way, you’ll learn the distinction between helping and enabling later in life. For now, that is a distinction without a difference. Just work on being a good person by being considerate.

Find out what you are passionate about and pursue it fervently and without apology. Do not fear failure but do everything you can to prevent it. Look upward but know where the ground is below. Fight for your dreams. Record them. Share them. Surround yourself only with people who will help you realize them. This is perhaps the hardest item on this list. Like David must have thought when he saw Goliath, winning will seem impossible to do. Read the Bible and see how having self-confidence in the face of fear and seemingly insurmountable odds worked out for him.

Never, ever under any circumstances be ashamed of who you are. It is important to note that the foregoing piece of advice assumes that you have invested the time and the effort to figure out exactly who you are. Do that and you’ll never have to apologize for who you are either.

Listen. Learn early when to keep your mouth shut. You should always speak the truth; however, you are never obligated to spill everything you know. 

I miss you. I think about you constantly when you are not with me. This will never change. One day, you will not want me around as much as you do now. When that day comes, stop long enough to realize that another day will come when you do want me around. Pick up the phone and say hello. Call me often. Call your mother every day.

Respect your mother and all other people with boobs. Being a Man requires learning what it means to be a woman. 


Don’t be an asshole. This should be easy to achieve in light of the fact that there are plenty of examples from which to learn an asshole’s character traits.

Women like lots of flowers and lots of compliments. Remember that. Also remember that flowers are equally as effective as compliments; however, only one of them is free.

Finally, pay very close attention to Temperance and Chastity. However, not too much attention as the other strippers will eventually get jealous.

Oh, and never lose your sense of humor.

Well, there it is. Thanks to Sherry in Nevada for nailing down the specifics on the post and thanks to the rest of you for teeing it up for me. Tell someone you love that you’re lucky to have him or her in your life. I’ll write the next time inspiration hits. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be on Uranus. DP