Eugenics: My mother and my aunt have never gotten along, although now that they’re getting older and their health has started to fail they get along better because they finally have something to talk about. Any time my aunt comes up in conversation, my mother says “Oh! She married those two idiots! It’s going to take us generations to get those genes out of the family.”
Abortion: My good God Almighty, I am tired of hearing about abortion. Like the Roman senator that ended every speech, no matter the topic, with “Carthage must be destroyed,” every political argument in this country (and a surprising number of private conversations) works its way around to abortion. In later centuries, historians will study our political system and be sure they’re using a bad translation. I’m sure I used to have a rational, well-considered position on the issue at some point, but I don’t remember what it was after a quarter-century of “Choice! Life! Choice! Life!” I especially hate the bumper sticker that says, “Your Mother Was Pro-Life!” Ignoring the foolishness of having any bumper sticker that contains the words “your mother,” no, she wasn’t. She just didn’t have an abortion in 1984. (Five bucks says someone leaves a comment saying “But she should have!”)
To Hell with Punctuation: There used to be an anti-abortion billboard on the highway on the way to my mom’s house from the airport (it was across from a place that offered “tattooz” – why is the area near the airport always so frightening?) Like most ads, it featured a dopey grinning baby, and bore the caption “Did you know? I got my “GENES” at conception. Why in the world are they “GENES”? Is “genes,” pronounced “hen-ess,” the Spanish word for soul or something? It makes me think that the person designing the billboard doesn’t really believe in genes, but, hell, might as well fight fire with fire? “Genes is the keyword here. Better do something to it. Quotes, italics or something.” Yesterday I was walking to the post office and passed a house with a sign on the door that read “Please leave deliveries on the step…” And… what? Ellipses… generally lead to something. Adding punctuation for no reason… makes no sense. I feel like there are a lot of signs on restaurants that have similar random punctuation, especially the poor, exploited quotation mark. “Please” NO SMOKING. One per “customer.”
Creation vs. Evolution: I had a fight with my last girlfriend (last as in both “final” and “most recent”) over this issue. She strongly favored teaching evolution, and I strongly didn’t give a damn.
“How do you not care if people are taught good science?”
“Because I went to a public high school! Our anatomy teacher was a defrocked monk! Who the hell cares what the teachers in high school teach, no one listens to them.”
“But it’s science!”
“It’s high school. Nothing that happens in high school matters unless you get pregnant. Name six things you learned in high school.”
To be fair, I didn’t really… do high school. By a lucky quirk, we had an excellent theatre department and crappy-ass sports teams, so the theatre kids got the privileges jocks traditionally get. I also tested well, so I really didn’t have to do a thing. (The defrocked monk thing is true, though. He had other, more time-consuming classes to teach so my senior-year anatomy class was mostly making power-point presentations about various parts of the body. Fingernails, for example. My partner and I started putting heavily haloed Renaissance pictures of Jesus in our presentations and adding narration by “the Bioluminescent Christ.” We were theatre kids, so we got away with it.) Anyway, my take on the matter is this: Go to an all-you-can-eat buffet the day after the government pays out benefits. Watch everyone’s table manners, and then tell me if you think we’re not descended from apes.
Chris Goes to Work: I’ve designed a job for myself. I’m going to hang out in the maternity ward of the hospital and veto stupid names. I went to middle school with a kid named “Dude.” During my very, very brief stint teaching underprivileged children, I met “Acuchi” (pronounced “a coochee” as in “a sniz” as in “female genitals”) and “Grunisha.” A friend of mine once had a beau named “Cable.” My mother, who for all her other eccentricities is usually truthful, swears she knew a woman who taught elementary school who had a pupil named “Vagina” (pronounced “Va-geena,”) and my father’s sister knew a family whose daughters were Georgia, Virginia, and Tennessee. We’ve all met someone named McKenzie but spelled some jackass way like “MyKyNzI” – not that McKenzie was ever supposed to be a first name, but at least most people could spell it within three tries. Even my dear, dear friend Apples wants to name her daughter “Aoife.” The A and the O are silent, and it’s pronounced “eefuh.” I asked her if she had had a stroke, and she said “It’s Irish,” as if that explained anything. You know what other names are Irish? Claire. Maureen. Eileen. So spellable. So pronounceable. There’s clearly an opening for someone to sit by the bassinet and say, “Kensleyton is not a name. Your choices are Henry or Jack.”
Politics: Ronald Reagan was president of the most powerful country in the world for eight years. He was also the star of a movie about a chimpanzee called “Bedtime for Bonzo.” (Well, star after the chimpanzee.) To me, this says two things. One, follow your friggin’ dreams, because hell, they might come true. Two, there absolutely is a God, because in a world governed solely by cold, rational natural laws, the “chimpanzee guy” never comes near the big red button.
The whitest things I’ve ever done:
- gotten a sunburn through a shirt
- had a nightmare, an actual nightmare, about having made a bad financial decision
- been scolded for not crying, more than once
White men traditionally get shit for not showing our emotions, but I ask you: The plane is going down, the Russians (The Iranians, the Pakistanis, the Chinese, the North Koreans, the Basques…) have dropped the bomb, the risen dead have appeared at the head of the block. Who do you want near you: someone having feelings, yelling and crying and (God forbid) trying to hug you, or someone in control of himself? I’ve always feared dying in a group for exactly this reason. Given my luck, not only would my plane get shot down by the one anti-aircraft missile the Green Party managed to buy, but I would be next to someone who wants me to “open up” on the way down.
“Is there anything you want to address before the end?”
“I, uh… sorr about the bag?”