About a year ago I was taking a literature class with the University of Phoenix. It was total horse shit. One of my assignments was to write a free verse poem about who I am. Under the influence of Maker’s Mark and the Country music supergroup, The Highwaymen, I wrote this terrible piece of blasphemy.
The prophets said my parents were Adam
A man made of mud
pies and a woman made from
a pilfered rib.
The biologists said my father was a primate
and my mother was a protozoan
(a paramecium, perhaps).
Desire and Longing
mother and father.
I am their Son, Suffering.
The Earth said she was my mother.
She and my father, Time, conceived me
in their imaginations
when they were both too young to be
parents. Luckily, I sprang
from the mud a full-grown man.
Am I Adam?
With his duty done, Time marched on
leaving Mother Earth a single parent.
The truth is,
none of these things.
neither mud nor monkey.
not a latchkey kid suffering from the desire to know my father, while my mother spins aimlessly through the cosmos.
In the interest of full disclosure, I want to make it very clear that I am getting married in less than two months. I can legally do that in the State of Tennessee on the same day that I apply for a marriage license. An ordained minister who I have never met will perform the ceremony. What kind of ordination does he have? I do not know. Perhaps he is like the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. In other words, maybe he is ordained in ignorance and a minister of vile hatred and stupidity. He doesn’t know what my fiancée or I believe about marriage, and we don’t know what he believes. It doesn’t really matter; in the State of Tennessee anyone “charged with the care of souls” can perform weddings. They even let Non-Christian religious leaders perform weddings. Can you believe that?
Anyway, I’m not writing this about my impending nuptials. That is a matter of deep personal commitment between my fiancée and me and is absolutely no business of yours. That is unless, of course, I invite you to the wedding to celebrate with us…or if my fiancée is really a fiancé (she is not). Apparently, many people in our free society seem to think it’s OK to mind other peoples’ business when they live in a way that is different from their own personal convictions. That is what I am writing about.
The whole issue of “gay marriage” is getting out of hand. I don’t care which side of the fence you are on, you’re wrong.
Christians (or any other religious group) have no right to harp on the “defense of marriage” or the “traditional family.” It’s bullshit. Traditional families went extinct (thankfully) a long time ago. Traditional families in history were usually formed due to reasons of finance, politics, to solidify ownership of land and resources, or some other necessity. They were often arranged or performed under duress and many a fair maiden’s hand was given in marriage against her will. Traditional marriage has made a mockery out of its supposed intended religious purpose for centuries. Why would Christians want to defend that?
The bottom line is that traditional families are horseshit. Families are people we freely associate with. They are people that we love and value because of a shared culture, heritage, values set and yes, sometimes, shared DNA. I realize I’m making a broad sweeping statement here without any evidence or research, but why should I be any different than the other people in this argument?
On the opposite side of the spectrum, homosexuals and their supporters have no right to clamor for equal marriage rights. They ALREADY have equal marriage rights. An openly homosexual man or woman can still legally get married to a member of the opposite sex in ANY STATE IN THIS COUNTRY. They have the same fucking rights as any other person. Straight people cannot marry members of the same gender either. The rights and privileges are the same…no matter what your sexual orientation. Now, before you start rolling your eyes, hear me out. The issue isn’t restricted rights. The issue is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of marriage in this country.
Assuming for a minute that the argument I made above about traditional marriage is bullshit (it’s not), we have to wonder what marriage’s purpose is and where it came from. In its most basic form, marriage is a holy sacrament of the Church. It is an earthly representation of the relationship between God and his creation. The way that a man and a woman join to become one is the same way God will someday join with his creation for eternity.
At least that’s my understanding of the Christian idea of marriage.
So, what’s my point? My point is, according to the Church, marriage is originally designed to serve a religious function. The Church belongs to God, and God created marriage to be a form of worship for believers and the Church. It is solely for those who wish to commune with God and his Church. It serves no secular purpose (my original argument makes clear that it mainly serves a secular purpose, but that argument is bullshit for the sake of this point, remember?).
(All of you Christians clamoring against my point, just hold your tongues for a minute. I’m taking this somewhere.)
Let’s assume my point about religious marriage is true. If it is true, then marriage belongs to the Church and the idea of a secular or civil marriage should not exist. I mean, civil marriages serve no purpose, so what’s the point? Marriage falls solely within the realm of the Church. Thanks to the First amendment to our Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This means Congress should not be dictating to the Church what marriage is.
It’s up to the Church to decide what is and is not allowable within the realm of marriage. This means it’s up to the Church to decide whether or not same-sex marriage should be granted the same standing as heterosexual marriage. If a Church decides that it is, then it should be allowed, no questions asked. If a Church decides that it isn’t, then find another Church. This point can also be made for polygamy. Who is the government to tell consenting adults how to live if the Church says it’s OK? That being said, Warren Jeffs is still a dickass.
However, recognizing that our society has a long-standing tradition of recognizing marriage as a legal contract outside the realm of the Church, then we have to reconsider who gets to decide what marriage is. If the law sees no difference between a Church marriage and a Civil marriage, then the Church doesn’t own marriage. Marriage is instead as I first described it. It is a means to enact a contract between individuals to secure property, finances, or other necessities. Love and affection may be a part of it, but that might not necessarily be the case. So, if this is true…and marriage inherently bestows certain legal rights and privileges to the couple, then the argument can be made that it belongs to the government…and not the Church. Since our government belongs to the people and not to God (he gets the Church…let’s not be greedy), then it’s up to the people to decide what marriage is.
Personally, I am of the opinion that marriage serves no civil purpose (or at least it shouldn’t). Yes, I believe marriage is a holy sacrament. It’s a commitment between a man and woman. It is a representation of a shared faith and a desired communion with God. Therefore, I shouldn’t need a license to get married. I just need a Church. As I established above, the minister who is performing my ceremony doesn’t know me. He won’t even meet me until 30 minutes before the ceremony. But in accordance with his conscience and the sacraments of his faith he has no problem joining my fiancée and me in the eyes of God and the world. Quite frankly it’s a sham. Even he recognizes that marriage is more of a secular device than it is a holy sacrament. Otherwise, he’d refuse to marry people unless he was sure they were going to protect the faith. He doesn’t give a shit…because he knows it belongs to the world…to the government and not to God.
So, why am I getting married in what is essentially a civil ceremony? Because I recognize that my opinion and religious ideology has no bearing on anyone outside of my own life. Whether or not I like it, God’s law doesn’t bind my marriage, but instead the laws of the State of Tennessee take precedence. If I were only taking God’s law into account for my wedding then the fiancée and I wouldn’t involve the government at all. It’s none of their business what we do. However, we recognize that to protect ourselves legally we have to go through the bullshit routine established by the people.
Ok, I said this wasn’t about my impending nuptials, and it’s not. I swear I have a point. However, before I make it, I have to direct your attention to a little document that we love to love called the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the Continental Congress blessed us with a beautiful pipe dream in that document that goes something like this:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Damn it. Even those guys were involving God in things…let’s take it a step back even further…in May of 1776, George Mason wrote:
“That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural Rights… among which are the Enjoyment of Life and Liberty, with the Means of acquiring and possessing Property, and pursueing [sic] and obtaining Happiness and Safety.”
This predates the Declaration by at least two months, and it is well documented that the idea was not originally Jefferson’s. That’s not really relevant. The point is we as a society love to express how much we value the idea that ALL PEOPLE are born equally free (whether God has a hand in that or not is up to you to decide). We claim that EVERYONE should be afforded the opportunity to live in accordance with their own conscience without interference from the government or other people. NO ONE should be forced to live in a manner that is inconsistent with his or her own conscience (in so much as their actions do not infringe on the rights of others).
It’s at this point that I feel it is imperative for me to point out that this liberty that I describe is especially precious to those of us who have some sort of faith. We recognize that persecution for our beliefs is a way of life (whether you’re a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Pastafarian, or whatever…someone wants to deny you access to worship freely). The freedom to worship in accordance with your conscience is paramount to liberty. However, the only way to protect this freedom is to allow others to disagree with you peacefully and live in accordance with their own ideas.
So my question is this: if as a nation and as a society we believe that everyone should be free and equal, then why do we have laws (or seek to make laws) that make it impossible for other people to live in accordance with their own consciences and values?
How can the Church justify getting involved in the secular government in order to deny someone the right to establish his or her own model of what a family is?
How can people outside of the Church justify trying to force the Church into accepting ideas that are incompatible with Church doctrine?
How can the Church try to legislate morality for a secular world? Why does the Church try to break through the boundaries of the separation of Church and State, when it’s that very separation that protects their beliefs from an intolerant secular majority?
Why do homosexuals want “marriage equality” (though, they already have it), when marriage is an irrelevant relic from an intolerant Church?
The answer is simple. Marriage shouldn’t be within the realm of government at all. It should be up to the churches to decide what marriage is. If homosexuals want marriage, then they need to take it up with the Church or start their own church. It’s that simple. The government should stay out of it.
The government SHOULD no longer recognize ANY marriage. Heterosexual, homosexual, polygamous, whatever…none of them SHOULD be afforded any recognition by the States. They SHOULD serve no purpose outside of the liturgy of the Church. This is my opinion. This is what I believe.
HOWEVER, since marriages ARE recognized by the States…and marriages DO serve purposes in society outside the realm of the religion, then there should be no restrictions on who can marry. Passing laws that restrict marriages to only heterosexual couples defies the very fabric of what we as a society believe. It defies our society’s core value that ALL men are born free and equal. Even if the Church disagrees, the Church’s very survival depends on allowing others to live in a way that the Church perceives as sinful or wrong.
So, there it is, folks. I disagree with passing laws recognizing same-sex marriages. Coincidentally, I’m against laws recognizing heterosexual marriages, too. In my opinion, these laws violate the First Amendment because they respect the establishment of religion and they prevent the free-practice thereof. However, since laws recognizing heterosexual marriages already exist, then in the name of liberty we either have to abolish those laws, or pass laws evening the score for those among us who are not heterosexual. For the sake of liberty, it’s the right thing to do.
P.S.- For all of those people out there who are calling people bigots for holding true to their convictions, remember this…As long as I do not try to force you to accept my position, then just because what I believe offends you doesn’t make me a bigot. It makes you a thin-skinned butt plug.
Today I saw workers pouring cement. I wanted to walk through it, but I didn’t…
Take a look at this map. When I was five-years old I lived here (the house marked with the red circle and arrow):
This is 566A Brady Drive, Fort Campbell, KY (Clarksville, TN)
My family moved into this neighborhood in the late summer of 1980. I had celebrated my 5th birthday (July) in Russlleville, KY not long before we moved into this house. We were already living there when my younger brother, Nick, was born (early September) so I am guessing we moved into this house sometime in August (30 years ago this month). Some random things I remember about that place are:
There was still lead paint on the walls
The outdoor siding was made of wood (It would later be replaced with aluminum siding).
The floors were covered in hard green linoleum (I cracked my head against it the first night there).
Outside, in the back yard, was an old air conditioning unit. It didn’t seem odd to me then, but it was painted green…like almost everything in the Army back in those days (this was before woodland camo).
The air conditioner isn’t what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the air conditioner that replaced it. A couple of years after moving into the house, people came to replace all of the air conditioners in the neighborhood. They took out the old green boxes, poured new concrete foundations, and installed brand-new units behind every house. By this time, Nick must have been about two-years old which means he was freely mobile. Before the cement had dried, he stepped in it and left a little footprint. I was around seven-years old, and I think it was the first time I’d ever seen someone leave a footprint in wet cement.
When I drove past the workers today I immediately thought about this incident. I began to wonder if that little concrete slab was still behind that old house. Considering the fact that it’s almost impossible that the air conditioner unit is still there, I doubt the cement slab is. However, it is not beyond the realm of possibility. I seem to recall driving by that neighborhood as a teenager and sneaking into the back yard and seeing it still there. If they only replaced the units without tearing up the old concrete it could conceivably still be intact.
Lately I’ve found myself being more philosophical than usual. I’ve been thinking a lot about my life (and the lives of others). I’ve been second guessing past decisions, formulating future plans, contemplating women, wondering about money, considering my career, thinking about finishing my education, and trying to grasp the concept of my own mortality. In fact, I’ve just generally been wondering about life, the universe, and everything. When I saw that slab of wet cement my mind made a ridiculous analogy…our lives are like wet cement.
When I saw that patch of cement today I wanted to run right through it. I didn’t and now it’s too late. I have missed my chance. The next time I walk along that stretch of sidewalk no one will never know I’ve been there. I’ll walk by and I won’t leave the slightest trace. Today was the only chance I had to leave my print.
I just turned 35 a few weeks ago and I’m starting to see the concrete begin to harden. So many times I find myself in situations when I want to run through the wet cement and leave my undeniable mark, but I don’t. I tell myself that I don’t want to get my shoes dirty or I’ll have a better patch of cement a little further down the road. I tell myself, “Now is the time to do something great! Everyone will see it and marvel at the impact that you’ve made. They will sing your praises and never forget you.” Then, I tell myself, “Now is the time to steer clear. Don’t get too near. Whatever you do can never be taken back. Everyone will see the mess that you’ve made and when they walk past they will point and laugh or maybe they’ll curse your name. They’ll never forget you.”
The second thought wins way too often. How easy it is for me to walk on by and to let the wet cement go undisturbed. How easy it is to live my life in a way that will immediately be forgotten. I look back at the hardened concrete, smooth and clean, and wonder what it might have looked like with my 6.5 extra-wide footprints running through the middle of it.
Today I saw workers pouring cement. I wanted to walk through it, but I didn’t…
Tomorrow, if I see wet cement, I hope I am brave enough to walk through it. I don’t want to be forgotten.
Today would have been my grandmother’s 83rd birthday. She passed away on April 4th of this year (Easter). This is the obituary that was published by the funeral home in San Antonio.
Margarita P. Galindo passed into her Lord’s hands on April 4, 2010 at the age of 82 years. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband Bernardo M. Galindo Sr., former husband George Cisnero, father Jose Angel Pena, son Leandro Cisnero and daughter Teresita Cisnero. She is survived by her sons; George Cisnero (Sylvia), Guadalupe Cisnero (Lucia), Alfredo Cisnero (Aurora), Adolfo Cisnero (Susan), Bernardo Galindo Jr. (David), Eduardo Galindo (Linda), daughters; Lucille Servin (Francisco), Olivia Aranda (Augustin), Alicia Marty (Miguel), Teresa Galindo, Janie Galindo, brother Joe Pena, 31 grandchildren, 51 great grandchildren and 1 great great grandson.
As a child I was fortunate to never lose a close family member. Both of my biological grandfathers passed away before my parents met and long before I was ever conceived. So, I didn’t have to witness either of my parents lose a parent until now. Of course, prior to grandma’s passing, both of my parents lost their step-fathers, my dad lost a brother, and my mom lost all three of her siblings (two sisters and a brother). Still, I’m convinced that the passing of a parent is something that no amount of preparation can prepare a person for. It’s just something that a person will never be ready to deal with until it happens.
Anyway, when Grandma passed away my entire family (Dad, Mom, and brothers) traveled to Texas together for the first time in almost 20 years. I won’t bother with all of the details of the week except to say that a week of funeral stuff wears on a family. I was fortunate, though, since all I had to do is sit around at the funeral home or sit around drinking beer with my cousins. Even so, I was still drained by the time it was over. I cannot even begin to fathom what my father and his brothers and sisters were dealing with.
My grandmother was Roman Catholic. Apparently, in Catholicism, the purpose of the Vigil (wake, visitation, etc.) is to attend to the soul of the dead. It also apparently lasts a couple of days. I’m not really sure what all of this means, but after attending a couple of Catholic funerals I have learned that part of the process includes praying the Rosary the night before the funeral mass and burial. It’s a very interesting ceremony to watch for someone like me who is not Catholic but has a fascination with religions of all sorts. Needless to say, the ceremony struck me as very solemn…that is until a band of Mariachis came from behind me, walked up the aisle to the casket, and started serenading my grandmother with funeral dirges. I remember thinking to myself (and may have said it out loud), “I definitely didn’t see this coming.”
I only remember one of the songs that they played (they were all in Spanish, and I didn’t understand them). It was this one:
Dos coronas a mi madre
Al panteón voy a dejar
Donde me paso las horas
Llorando sin descansar.
Dos coronas a mi madre
Es muy poco para ti
Madrecita de mi vida
Quisiera quedarme aquí.
Cada día de las madres
Es muy triste para mí
Cada día de las madres
Crece más mi amor por ti.
Aunque sé que es imposible
Ya no estarás junto a mí
Madrecita de mí vida
Nunca me olvido de ti.
CORO (2 veces)
Aquí te dejo estas flores
Dos coronas para ti
Recordando los momentos
Que tú me arrullaste a mí.
Madrecita si me escuchas
El otro año vengo aquí
A dejarte dos coronas
Dos coronas para ti.
A dejarte dos coronas
Dos coronas para ti.
Now, there are two specific reasons that I remember this song. The first reason was due to my propensity to pay attention to all things beer. My mind immediately latched onto the word “Corona.” Several years of studying and working with the Arabic language has pretty much eliminated the majority of my high school/college Spanish lessons. Still, I started sifting through my muddled archive of fragmented Spanish to try to put together the meaning. My thoughts went something like this:
‘Dos = Two’…Okay, Two coronas.
‘A mi madre’….hmmmm…’mi madre’ is easy enough, it means ‘My mother.’ So, that must mean ‘A’ is a preposition meaning ‘for.’ (I later remembered it actually means ‘to’)
Okay, two coronas for my mother.
‘Es muy poco para ti’ OOOOH, I actually know this, ‘Is too little for you.’
So…’two Coronas for my mother, but it’s not enough for you’….what the fuck does that mean?
The second reason I remember this song is because my thought process was interrupted by my mother whispering, “This is such a beautiful song.” I looked at her with a confused look and said (not at loud), “What the hell do you mean? Why the hell are they singing about giving Grandma two Coronas?” My mind started splashing images in my head that were very similar to these:
Then, somewhere in the deepest recesses of my brain a voice rose up yelling, “Corona means CROWN!” This made a little more sense to me, but I still didn’t quite get it. I figured it had something to do with crowns in heaven or something. Eventually, as I started to put the pieces of the song together, I realized that corona is also the Spanish word for wreath. OH!!! FLOWERS!!! NOW I GET IT!
As it turns out, my mother is right. This is a beautifully sad song about a man leaving flower wreaths at his mother’s grave. (I still think about beaches and beer when I hear it, though)
Grandma lived a long life. I’m sure a lot of it wasn’t easy. If you paid attention to the obituary you would know that she was the matriarch of a HUGE family. A family of this size inevitably creates incredible joy, I’m sure. But not without creating its share of sorrow and strife. That’s a lot of living to pack into 82 years. So, in retrospect, after 82 years of this world, Grandma may have actually been ready to relax on a beach with a beer or two.
So, Grandma, if paradise is like they say it is, then hopefully you are enjoying a couple of Coronas like the people in the commercials. God knows you’ve earned it! We miss you and love you!
Isn’t it strange how memory works? Certain sights, sounds, and smells (so, I’ve been told) can bring to mind things that never would have crossed someone’s mind in the course of a normal day.
One of my memory triggers is seeing orange lilies growing along the side of a road.
Orange Lilies Along the Side of a Road
Every time I pass orange lilies growing along the side of a road, I am instantly transported to the summer of my 20th birthday. The lilies bloom in late June (you may see them now if you pay attention). They’ve been in bloom for a couple of weeks now, and every morning on my drive to work I see them. Every morning, I’m immediately reminded of a June day in 1995.
The day was probably a weekend, but I really have no way to be sure. What I do remember is that it was sometime around the middle of the afternoon. My friends Angela and Greg met me for lunch at a place called Teddy’s Chop Suey in Clarksville. It was a little restaurant that had a decent buffet of mediocre Chinese food. We liked it because it was cheap, it was greasy, and it was horribly unholy (for you kosher types) and unhealthy.
As the three of us exited from the restaurant, Angela commented on a group of orange lilies growing in a patch of brush and undergrowth. The area was covered in poison ivy and was prime real estate for snakes, ticks, and any number of other vermin and vectors. Being a 19-year-old boy (my birthday wasn’t for another month), I decided that I was going to impress the girl with a pretty flower.
I trudged through the bushes and snagged a couple of the bright orange flowers. I handed them to Angela with a grin. She smiled, thanked me, and we all parted ways. The event was really no big deal. It wasn’t the beginning of a romance, it wasn’t the last time I ever saw them, I was not bitten by any critters, nor did I get poison ivy. It was a wholly insignificant occurrence on a random June day.
A few weeks later I was sitting in Angela’s living room and saw those flowers (long since dead) in a vase on top of her family’s entertainment system. The fact the she had kept them made me grin. Seeing those dead flowers reminded me of that afternoon. I remembered that insignificant event, and it brought to mind the great friendship that I shared with Greg and Angela.
Angela and Greg are still two of my dearest friends. Though, I do not see them as often as I would like. The reason is simple. They both still live in Tennessee. I speak to Greg very infrequently, but I try to see him at least a couple of times every time I am in Tennessee. I still speak to Angela about once a month or so, and visit her when I am back home too. So, while we are still best of friends, we are not as close as we once were.
Whenever I see orange lilies I think of them. I think of my amazing friends, and I remember how close we were. It makes me miss them, and wish that I had never let any distance develop between us. Though, it seems that it may be the natural way of things. Friends come and go. The relationships evolve and change. Sometimes they go away for good.
Some friends, though, are like the orange lilies. In the same way that the orange lilies return every June, my friends come back into my life, if only occasionally, and when they do, it’s as if they had never left.
When I was about 11 years old, I used to hang out with a bunch of kids at a decrepit playground close to where we all lived on Fort Eustis, Virginia. The park was secluded in a grove of old trees, so there was always a dense layer of leaves and fallen branches on the ground. There was also a dingy creek that ran along the edge of the park. The shaded area, natural debris, and water source made it a haven for several species of fauna, especially venomous snakes (specifically copperheads and cottonmouths). So, we kids knew the the park as “Snake Park.”
Anyway, I was at Snake Park one day with a large group of kids. As is apt to happen with children, an argument erupted, and one group of kids began throwing rocks and sticks at the other group of kids. Being in “the other group of kids,” I was obligated to join the fray and picked up the closest stick I could find. It was a medium-sized branch that crumbled in mid-flight due to the fact that it had been rotting on the ground for obviously some length of time.
Undaunted, I immediately began looking for another missile to throw towards our foes. I spied a menacing piece of splintered lumber (also known as a 2X4). I grabbed it, cocked back my arm, and hurled the piece of solid wood into the opposing crowd of kids. The 2X4 did not crumble in mid-flight as the branch had done. Instead, it spun majestically through the air in a nice, tight, twirling pattern and landed harmlessly on the ground about 20 feet from the intended target. The reason it had flown off course was not due to my aim. The reason was due to the rusty nail (that I had failed to notice) ripping a nice hole in the fleshy part of my hand right between my thumb and index finger. In that brief fray, I was the only kid to either inflict injury or have an injury inflicted upon them. The only blood drawn that day was drawn from and by my own hand.
The painful and embarrassing lesson that I learned from that small piece of wood has had a broad influence over the way that I throw many things until this very day. As a grown man, I cannot throw a baseball very far or with any real amount of force or velocity. I CAN throw a football in a nice spiral, but like the baseball, the speed and distance are laughable. Frisbees inevitably fly off course, and if it’s a stick of any sort, you might as well just forget it. I wasn’t even allowed to throw a live hand grenade during Army Basic Combat Training. The drill sergeants made us throw practice grenades first, but because of the odd way that I threw those; I was pulled from the range in shame. For the rest of the day, I was forced to sit with the group of regular “Shit Bags” who were used to doing things wrong (it was a new experience for me).
Now, it’s important that I clarify something. The reason that I have trouble throwing things is not because of the injury. It healed with no physical scars. However, I developed a mental scar that always makes me wary whenever I throw most PHYSICAL objects of any substance. I’m just not good at throwing some things. There are things that I AM good at throwing, but we’ll get into that a little bit later.
Unfortunately, learning to throw like a girl (sorry ladies) and always making sure you know what you’re holding in your hands were the only lessons I learned from that fateful day at Snake Park. I wish I could say that it was the first or last time that I had thrown anything in anger. It was not.
The first time that I recall ever throwing any PHYSICAL object in anger was when I was a little bit younger. I was maybe seven or eight years old. My older brother, Jace, and I were playing with our G.I. Joes and we had an elaborate battle set up in his bedroom. For some reason, I became angry because I was not getting my way. I am not sure what it was that he had done, but my brother always had a more even and fair temperament than I did when we were growing up, so I’m sure he was in the right.
Out of frustration, I grabbed a shoe and looked for some way to punish him. I threw the shoe at one of his favorite toy vehicles, the G.I. Joe version of the Cobra Gunship Helicopter (known as the Dragonfly to us kids). I only intended to disrupt our game, and I succeeded. However, I also succeeded in shattering the toy helicopter into a dozen pieces. In a moment of selfish spite, I took something away from someone that I love very much. Due to my anger, my very best childhood friend, who had done nothing wrong, was robbed of something he loved.
My Dad, who we thought could fix anything, assured us he was going to repair the helicopter. In fact, he was going to make it “BIONIC”. It was going to be even better. With a lot of patience, some super glue, model paint, a miniature electrical motor, a few wire leads, and a nine-volt battery, he did just that. It had a rotor that would turn when the battery was connected, it had a cool painted on logo, and it even had a little flashing red light on the tail boom…just like a real helicopter. It was SUPER COOL. Unfortunately, it was also very fragile, and was no longer suitable as a toy.
My brother had to wait for quite some time before my parents were able to get him a new one. In the meantime, I continued to happily play with MY helicopter, and suffered very few consequences…or so I thought. The truth is, playing G.I. Joes with my brother was different after that. In retrospect, I can see that the “Dragonfly Incident” was the beginning of the end of our elaborate G.I. Joe battles. Jace’s interests began to shift to other things. I can’t say that I blame him much; I wouldn’t have wanted to play with me either.
You may recall that earlier I wrote, “I wish I could say that it was the first or LAST time that I had thrown anything in anger.” That shoe was the first PHYSICAL object that I ever remember throwing in anger. I wish that I could tell you that I learned a valuable life lesson from that shoe, but I did not.
The next PHYSICAL object that I recall throwing out of anger was an empty beer mug that, coincidentally, had a picture of a Cobra Gunship Helicopter on it. It was several years past the Snake Park incident, and I was well into my angry teenage years. My brother and several of our friends were in the front yard of our house in Tennessee after school one day. We were wrestling and horsing around the way that teenage boys do when one of my brother’s friends accidentally knocked my glasses off of my face. As a teenager, I had a hair-trigger temper that was legendary. I became enraged that my glasses had been knocked off of my face, and turned our friendly wrestling into a full-blown fight. My brother’s friend was a little older, taller, and stronger than me, but did not want to fight. He tried to calm me down, but I kept going after him.
Jace intervened to break up the fight. This only succeeded in distracting my attention away from his friend, and I was soon focusing my anger on him. He quickly got the better of me, and backed away and told me to calm down. Just like the “Dragonfly Incident”, Jace was in the right, and just like the “Dragonfly Incident,” I looked for a way to punish him for it. He had been drinking iced tea from the Cobra Helicopter Beer Mug (we always drank our tea in them), and had left it sitting on the steps of the porch.
I walked over to it…
I picked it up…
I turned around…
…and blinded by my rage, I launched it directly at his face.
I wish I could tell you that the beer mug “spun majestically through the air in a nice, tight, twirling pattern and landed harmlessly on the ground about 20 feet from the intended target” like the 2X4 at Snake Park had done. It did not.
My brother was quick enough to lower his head, which saved his face and perhaps his life. However, the beer mug shattered against the top of his skull. It was the second time in my life that throwing something had drawn blood from someone, and this time it wasn’t me.
I was so enraged, that I yelled, “SEE? LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!” I knew immediately that it was wrong to blame him for my actions, but I tried anyway. The rage quickly gave way to panic, remorse, and a genuine self-loathing that I still carry to this day.
I rushed into the house and called my mother at work. “Mom, I think I killed Jace,” I said into the phone. My mother skipped RAGE and immediately went into PANIC. She told me to call a family friend, who rushed him to the hospital. My mother left work and met them there. My brother suffered through quite a few stitches, a heck of a lot of pain, and the embarrassment of shaved spots on his head. Other than that, there were no long-term physical effects, except for a scar hidden under his hair. Also, I am not sure if he’s had a haircut since that day…I don’t think he has.
I was a teenager, just a few short years from adulthood, but nowhere close to possessing the wisdom and self-control that is required to call oneself a Man. My brother suffered no long-term effects, but I cannot say the same thing. That incident is not the only thing in my life that I regret. However, it is the only regret that I have not learned to accept. If my brother has not forgiven me, he’s never shown it outwardly, though I wouldn’t blame him if he hasn’t. I know that I haven’t forgiven me for it. I’m not sure that I ever will. Every time I think of that day, I cannot remember what the rage felt like, but the panic, remorse, and genuine self-loathing are as real and strong in my mind as if I was still standing in front of him watching him bleed.
Unlike the shoe, I did learn several lessons from the beer mug. The first lesson I learned is that you should never throw objects out of anger. I would like to say that I haven’t thrown anything in anger since, but it would be a flat out lie. However, since that day I have never thrown an object at another human being in anger, and I NEVER will. The second lesson I learned is probably the most valuable lesson that anyone can ever learn. That lesson is: “No matter how bad it hurts when someone you love hurts you, it never hurts as bad as it does when you hurt someone that you love.”
You may have noticed that earlier I had underlined the word “physical” when talking about throwing things. I have learned not to throw physical objects. However, I still struggle with throwing things in anger. Often times when I am angry, I find myself throwing tantrums, fits, pity parties, stones within my glass house, and the baby out with the bath water. Over the years, I have grown to realize that these things can be just as destructive as shoes or beer mugs. I hope some day that I will possess the wisdom and self-control that is required to avoid doing these things. ONLY THEN will I be able to call myself a Man.
Now, I have covered a lot of serious ground in this post, and I do not want to detract from the severity and sincerity of what I have written. However, at the beginning, I promised to tell you of some things that I AM good at throwing (other than tantrums, fits, etc.). So, here you go…
The list of things that the 2×4 at Snake Park did not prevent me from throwing well:
Darts (I’m a pretty good dart thrower)
My hat (I’ve got really good aim with it)
My car keys (Maybe some day I’ll tell you the story about the squirrel)
Napkins into trash cans (My friends at O’s might disagree, but I hit about 75% of the time)
Caution into the Wind (Sometimes this is just liberating and necessary and can be really good for me)
My back out (Throwing my back out isn’t GOOD, but I’m apparently GOOD at it)
The “fair and balanced” journalists at Foxnews.com are reporting on a new study that links frequent masturbation to a decrease in risk of prostate cancer. The article at Fox News can be found here. Interestingly enough, Fox News is only quoting an article from a Gay and Lesbian Website (I’m not really sure why the Lesbians would care…no matter how butch, women just don’t have prostates) which is supposedly quoting the Australians.
Anyway, apparently men between 20 and 50 who masturbate five times a week have a 30% less chance of developing prostate cancer than men who do not. Researchers seem to think that the frequent ejaculation “flushes” the carcinogens out of the prostate.
This is obviously something that some men have known all along…or at least judging by their habits would think they’ve known. Either way, I’m sure that any man who didn’t have a good excuse to yank it a couple of times a week has finally gotten one backed by SCIENCE (who can argue with science?).
Now, of course, the only thing that I could think of while reading this article (other than, “why the hell is this front-page news?”) was “If a man jerks off 10 or 15 times a week does that lower his chances by 60% or 90%?”