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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Their Children, And Mine

My son crammed the cupcake full-on into his gob so hard I was worried he was going to suffocate himself.  That's how Jewish fathers think.  I guess maybe we shouldn't have gotten him a cupcake that was approximately the same diameter as his head.  My daughter wouldn't touch the thing, at least, not with her hands.  She held them up high at a dainty angle and licked her cupcake to a long, slow, moist death-- her tiny, flicking tongue the snake-like weapon in this dirty masquerade.

I told the story of my children eating their first cupcakes to approximately six different coworkers, at different times of the day, on Monday.  By the third retelling, the third "That's so CUTE!", I silently prayed the floor would open me up and I'd be sucking on Hades's dick with my hair and skin on fire by lunchtime.  

On Friday, twenty children fell to the ground-- their clocks stopped forever-- in a mindless, senseless, brutal and hateful act.  The next day, my two children turned one.  My wife said she was sad that their birthday will be forever linked to the calamity at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and it wasn't something I had thought about until she mentioned it.  Maybe it will be, maybe not.  I don't know.  I'm like you in that, after Friday, I don't know anything anymore.

And I don't much want to.

I don't want to talk about it anymore than I want to talk about my children's birthday.  It happened.  Everything that can be said's been said.  It's been said on Facebook and on Twitter, from behind lecterns and on pulpits, on television and on the radio.  It's been said by the copy machine and at tables and on chairs, some that swivel, some that used to.  I've said everything that can be said about my twins' birthday.  I don't want to talk about it anymore.

You understand.

I don't want to go on Facebook-- ever again.  Some people are trite, some are sincere, but I hate them either way.  Some won't leave it alone, some post pictures of candles and say dumb things.  One idiot my wife went to school with said her cat "sensed something was wrong in Connecticut".  If you want to open up a discussion about mental health in this country-- start with her.  I want to delete my account entirely, but what about all the pictures?  Of my children and my wife and my life, and how will I ever secretly ogle the inaccessible girls I went to high school with?

Well, it used to be a secret.  Actually, probably not.

I guess I'm not very good at expectations.  I'm expected to talk about the shooting as much as I'm expected to talk about my children, but I resist.  I squirm.  I'm petulant and vague, always holding back.  Talking about the shooting makes me ill and talking about my children makes me uncomfortable.  I feel idiotic and small, silly and vain.  When I am badgered at work into showing pictures of them on my cellphone I get sweaty and hot-- it's not an enjoyable experience and, the louder the cooing, the more fervently I pray for that hole to open up below my shoes.

"You know," I said to the only real friend at work I'll ever have, "I really miss the time here when I was new and no one talked to me, and I just came in with my head down, did my job, and left unnoticed."

Now I'm expected to talk-- about... I don't know what.  People places and things.  About whatever.  And I can banter and make jokes and hold a conversation.  I can do that.  I'm just dying inside, or wishing I was.

I like to think I'm the kind of man who says what he thinks, who tells it like it is, who owns up to how he really feels, but I'm not.  I'm not that at all.  My father is, because he doesn't give a shit about what anybody has to say in return.  I'm obsessed with it.  I don't know how you get what you get from your father or your mother that way, but I don't think I got much from him except his body hair and his brown eyes.

I have things to say-- about their children, and mine-- but I don't know where to begin, or why I would.  I don't know who would care, and I don't know if I'd respect them very much if I found they did.  I have some things to say about the 2nd Amendment and mental health and masculinity and security and this country and our mentality and our tragic flaws and statistics and prejudices and I have some things to say about the new thing my son did today, or how my daughter looked in her gray hoodie, or the lump in my throat at this moment or that, about thus and so.  I have a song to sing, O.

But I don't remember the words.

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