Any Port in a Storm

You may or may not know that, after an extensive break (about 35 years), I have returned to school for an English degree. This semester, I’m taking a class in writing poetry. The following prose poem is one of my efforts for that class.

Barney Stinson, the living embodiment of Bro Culture.

I could see her lips move, but the words were buried under the avalanche of sound that poured from the speakers like snow down a mountainside. Normally, “Nasty” set my teeth on edge, but in this moment, I loved Ms Jackson because she was drowning out the insipid, inane babblings of the blitzed bottle-blond I was presently trying to talk out of her panties. A stiff dick may not have a conscience, but it can have taste and if I had to listen to this chick for more than a minute, I’d go limp as a dishrag. But, it had been almost a week since I’d had some action, so any port in a storm as the Navy boys over Gulfport like to say.

Off the dance floor and over at the bar, I lost Janet’s assistance and I had to hear her. So, I focused on her impressive rack and kept my eyes on the prize. “What’s your name?” she asked. “Where are you from?” I was ready for this, my lies laid out ahead of time. I told her my name was Charles Chandler, but everyone calls me Chad. That wasn’t a full-dress falsehood; I’d been Chad for as long as I could remember, but I’m an actual Chad, not Charles, and Chandler isn’t even close to my factual last name. I told her I was a lieutenant in the Air Force, stationed at Barksdale/Bossier City but stuck in New Orleans because of maintenance issues. “You’re a pilot?” she asked as her face lit up like Bourbon Street on Fat Tuesday night. I just smiled and ordered us a couple of cocktails. That’s the trick to an effective lie, you know: Never say it yourself, just drop a few hints and let the dunts connect the dots themselves. I’m telling you, it never, ever fails.

5 hours later, I was crawling out of cab in front of the Motel 6 in Metarie where me and 3 buds from my admin clerk class at the base back in Biloxi had rented a room for the holiday weekend. The sun was coming up and I was going down after a long, hard night. And, not long and hard in the good way, either. The bitch kept wanting to talk, acted like this was something besides a somewhat sleazy one-night stand. Yeah, I said sleazy. It’s not lost on me that I’m a degenerate, depraved douche bag. And, if I’m being honest, most morning afters I feel like I need a shower, even though there’s not enough water in the world to ever really feel clean again. But, the only other option is to get real, connect, feel something. And, I’m way too broken on the inside for anything other than slumming. Any port in a storm as the Navy boys over in Gulfport like to say.

Go Home GQ, You’re Drunk

 

Screw GQ. Read ’em all

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a literature major and if I’ve learned anything in my study of belles-letters, it’s that fiction hasn’t fared very well in this postmodern world. I don’t mean quality-wise; there’s plenty of fiction out there that holds its own with Hemingway, Hurston, or Fitzgerald. For example, Margaret Atwood tackles Christian theonomy in “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses gave us an unflinching look at Islam. Not to be outdone, Neil Gaiman showed us what we really worship in his novel, American Gods. No, beloved, when it comes to fiction, the quality is as good as it ever was. It’s fiction’s reputation that’s taken a hit.

It seems to me that most people view nonfiction as “serious” reading, while fiction is strictly for fun. I have more than one friend who share the nonfiction works they’re reading as deep and important, while fiction is reserved for “beach reads”. I’ve long thought this was a discomfiting trend and GQ magazine recently provided more evidence of that when they published an article titled “21 Books You Don’t Have to Read”.

Now, if you’re thinking that GQ isn’t exactly a bastion of literary criticism, you’re right. It’s basically the male version of Cosmopolitan and deals mostly with fashion, style, and culture for men. As a rule, I pay more attention to Oprah’s Book Club than I do GQ when it comes to literature. But, this article caught my attention because, well, it’s a list of books that we’re told don’t have to read and anytime I see someone discouraging reading in any form, I get a little miffed.

Lately, I’ve been trying to avoid things that get my blood pressure up, like political discussions, internet arguments, and, well, stupid lists about not reading certain books. But, against my better judgement, I looked it up. It was worse than I thought. Not only did these yahoos include the Bible (it is the most influential book in history. That’s true whether you like it or not), they also included books like, Catcher in the RyeAdventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Lord of the Rings. Really? In a world where crap like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Gray exists, why would you steer people away from good writing?

I noticed two things while perusing this list: First, it was very heavy on old, white guys. As in, the books deemed unworthy of reading were written by white men. And, when I “heavy”, I mean “every book”. And, lest you think I’m one of those “Don’t-like-minority” types, I firmly believe we don’t hear from those minority voices nearly as much as we should. But, reading those authors shouldn’t mean tossing out the classics.

Second, one of the chief complaints about the works on the “Don’t bother” list was that they weren’t entertaining enough. I get that being entertaining is important because people tend not to read books that aren’t entertaining. I mean, when’s the last time you anything by Henry James? But, being entertaining isn’t the only thing. Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series is very entertaining, but it doesn’t break new ground, transform literature or do any of the other things the books on this list have done.

Perhaps the most disconcerting thing about the list is that it was compiled by authors. And, all too often, those authors didn’t seem to grasp the finer points of these works. This is evidence of another disturbing trend I’ve noticed: most Americans read fiction the way an evangelical fundamentalist reads the Bible: literally and without searching for any deeper meaning. That is not a good thing.

Why is that a bad thing, you ask? Well, my friends, we live in a world that is chock full of things that are extremely hard to talk about. That is partly because, as much as we claim to prize plain-spokenness, differing ideas uttered in a plain-spoken way tends to make us angry. Especially when it’s applied to something we’re sensitive about. And, that’s where fiction comes in. Because fiction is an excellent way to talk about the things that we can’t tackle head on. Really, fiction is the new mythology, allowing us to explore and express who we are, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going. If we avail ourselves of this amazing device, we might even get there without destroying ourselves in the process. I’m not holding my breath, though.

The Tone Police

The Tone Police in action

I think it’s safe to say that, right now, public discourse isn’t at it’s loftiest point in our history. Up until last week, I told myself that things could certainly be worse, saying “Hey, no one’s taken a stick to a colleague on the Senate floor while a compatriot pulled a pistol to keep everyone else at bay. That’s something, right?” But, I’m not sure I can hold onto that slim strand of hope much longer.

Last Thursday, a man with a long-standing grudge against Annapolis, Maryland’s Capital Gazette newspaper walked into their office and opened fire on the staff, killing five and wounding two. You might be wondering why I would bring up mass murder in a discussion about public discourse. I get that, killing a whole slew of people in one go is pretty much the opposite of talking. In another world, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to bring up mass murder in a discussion about the community’s rhetoric. But, we don’t live in another world, we live in the “Trump-side Down“: A world where a thrice-divorced reality show huckster who said he’s never felt the need to ask God’s forgiveness and has paid hush money to an adult film actress over an affair enjoys massive support from evangelical Christians that they elect to the highest office in the land. Meanwhile, a devoted husband and father who has repeatedly demonstrated his faith through his actions is reviled by these same people as a “secret Muslim” who is mounting an assault on Christianity. Y’all know these folks make Jesus cry, right?

If the way Obama was treated while 45 is embraced isn’t enough proof that we live in a parallel universe  where everything is twisted and warped, check this out. Thursday evening, on AC360, Anderson Cooper replayed a previously taped interview with some of the survivors of the shooting. In it, reporter Selene San Felice said, “But I’m gonna need more than a couple days of news coverage and some thoughts and prayers because it’s — our whole lives have been shattered. And so thanks for your prayers, but I couldn’t give a fuck about them if there’s nothing else.” Whether by mistake or by design, they didn’t bother to censor San Felice and the expletive came thru loud and clear. In the normal world, the only way to respond to that is the way Cooper did: with sympathy and grace. However, in the “Trump-side Down”, it seems that tone-policing is an appropriate response.

I say that because, Friday morning, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl) tweeted:

“Sign of our times… the F word is now routinely used in news stories, tweets, etc. It’s not even F*** anymore. Who made that decision?

Wow. Let me see if I understand what’s being said here: In the aftermath of a mass shooting that left five people dead and 2 wounded, Senator Waterboy is upset by the “F word”? I don’t know about you guys, but I can think of a lot of words that are worse than “fuck”, like murder, racism, famine and a whole bunch more. But, I suppose it is nice to know where Marco’s priorities lie.

Now, the cynic in me thinks that this really about all Rubio can say,  what with bought and paid for by the NRA. But, my idealistic side says that, rather than just making snarky comments, I should try and look at things from Marco’s point of view. I don’t know, maybe “F***” is worse than I think. So, let’s do a little research, shall we?

As a word, “fuck” has been around for a long time. The first attested usage dates to 1475 in a poem by some English friars (it does appear earlier in a couple of names). It is probably a cognate of some German words that have a sexual connotation. Or, it may derive from an Old French word that means “to fuck”. Originally, it referred only to having sex and it’s hard to tell when it lost that happy association and picked up some of the more unpleasant and offensive meanings it has today. But, even with all those negative associations, when stacked up against violent death, bigotry, and hunger, “fuck” just doesn’t seem that bad to me.

Of course, Rubio isn’t the only person to use this approach. All of our social media feeds are full of “Trumpies” calling for civility now that everyone else has had enough of their crap and started giving it back. Sorry snowflakes, that genie is out of the bottle and it ain’t going back in. Deal with it.

 

Family Matters

It’s been a while since I posted anything here, mostly because I’ve been busy with school. Also, I’ve been writing for a friend’s site (The Betafiles. You should check it out.) But, I’ve come to realize I shouldn’t neglect my own little corner of the web, so I’m going to begin sharing the things I write for the The Betafiles here. Starting with this piece.

As you may have noticed over the last few days, it’s been rather difficult to turn on a news program without hearing about the White House’s latest policy debacle, the separation of families attempting to cross our southern border. This was a fairly big story before, but it really came to dominate the headlines last Thursday when Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the Bible to justify the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, setting off a crapstorm of negative press coverage.

Things haven’t gone well for Sessions in the wake of that comment, as people across the country have called him out about it. Even his own United Methodist Church (Sessions is a member) has condemned both the policy and the AG’s statement, saying “To argue that these policies are consistent with Christian teaching is unsound, a flawed interpretation, and a shocking violation of the spirit of the Gospel.” So, the UMC, a group that has been locked in a fractious debate over the status of people who are LGBTQ+ for years, thought one of their own member’s policy/statement was so bad it was worth putting all that aside and coming together to denounce it? Oh, I’ll bet that stings.

It’s not just Sessions who’s feeling the heat, though; the entire Trump administration is catching it. Of course, that’s due in part to their total ineptitude when it comes to governing. And, never has their incompetence been clearer than in the responses from various administration officials. Over the weekend, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” Yet, back in May, chief of staff John Kelly said that tearing kids away from their parents would be a “tough deterrent” and wouldn’t call it cruel. And, the president himself has gone on record multiple times about the policy, usually to blame Democrats for this heinous practice. Of course, I’ve already told you about Sessions’ views on the subject. And, in line with her boss and the AG, Mouth of Sauron White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “It’s the law, and that’s what the law states.” Compared to these people, the Keystone Kops are the picture of competence.

On-air personalities at Fox News (aka Department of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda) have been working hard to counter all the bad press and “inform” us about the “reality” of the situation. Tucker Carlson claims that public outrage over the policy has been ginned up by “the ruling elite” to accelerate “the collapse of the American family”. Co-host of Fox and Friends and ventriloquist-dummy-come-to-life Steve Doocy said that we’re not seeing concentration camps with cages for children, but “great, big warehouse facility where they built walls out of chain link fences.” And, last but certainly not least, Laura Ingraham told us that these detention centers “are essentially summer camps”. While the comments from Doocy and Ingraham are mind-numbingly stupid, they were a welcome change from Carlson’s dog-whistle-racism-conspiracy-theory-bs. Something we hear all too often from the fine folks at Fox.

I will end this: One of the goals of this zero-tolerance policy (the brainchild of human-rat hybrid Stephen Miller) is reducing the number of people seeking asylum. And, it’s working. I heard a news report this morning about an interview with a Honduran woman at the border who was reconsidering her decision to attempt a crossing and request asylum. Think about that for a moment: our government has created an environment that is less attractive than the horrific violence occurring in her homeland. So, have we made America great again? Because I don’t think I can’t take much more of this “winning”.

***Update: Since I wrote this article, Lord Dampnut has signed an executive order (after swearing the issue couldn’t be dealt with in that manner multiple times) that will end family separation of people caught improperly crossing the border. Of course, it doesn’t reverse the idiotic zero-tolerance policy that caused the mess; that will remain in force. No, this order means that all adults crossing illegally will still be prosecuted, but they’re children won’t ripped away from them. So, instead of infants and toddlers held sans parents in “tender age detention centers”, we’ll have whole families in jail together. The sad thing is, this is an improvement.

Family Reunion

Donnie sat on the edge of the bed in nothing but his underwear and bright, white t-shirt. He held a pair of socks, his shoes on the floor between his feet. The pants his mother had picked out lay on the bed beside him, while a shirt hung on the door of his closet. Normally, his mother didn’t pick out his clothes; he was a grown man who had served in Iraq, after all. But, today? Today was special. Donnie knew she considered it his reintroduction to the “normal” world and would do whatever she felt was necessary to make sure things went “right”. The idea of this filled him with dread because he also knew what this meant for his day.

He sat there, holding his socks, trying to find the motivation to get dressed. “Family

fuckin’ reunion,” he muttered. “I’d rather take a beatin’ than do this.” Like all good southern

boys, Donnie loved his family. But, he felt calling his mother’s clan “batshit crazy” wasn’t

very nice to batshit. He wasn’t sure he was up to dealing with them after all he’d been

through.

As he sat there, his anxiety slowly building, his mother stuck her head in the door. “Good lord, Donnie, why aren’t you dressed yet? We got to leave in fifteen minutes!”

Her admonition broke the trance he’d slipped into and he pulled his socks on. “I know, Mama. I’m gettin’ there.” He sighed. “Don’t worry, I’ll be ready in plenty of time.”

“You better be. I am not about to get there late and listen to your Aunt Dottie run her mouth about my lack of punctuality.” Without another word, she went off to check on some other task that demanded her attention, lest the precious family honor be impugned. She left the door standing open.

Donnie slid on his pants and threaded the belt through the loops. He walked over to the closet and put on his shirt. As he buttoned it, his father appeared in the door. “You doin’ okay?”

“Not really. I’m nervous as hell. This is the first time I’ve been around Mama’s family since…well, you know.”

His dad stepped on into the room. “Yeah, I know it’s a lot. If it gets to be too much, just say the word and we’ll get you out of there.” His dad reached out and squeezed his uninjured shoulder, “Hell, for that matter, you don’t even have to go.”

“No,” Donnie said. “I’ll be alright. Hell, I made it through two tours in Iraq. How hard can this be?”

His dad said, “You know, I told myself something similar after I got back from Vietnam. Looked in the mirror and said, ‘Okay, you survived the jungle and the VC. You can survive an afternoon with your wife’s family.’”

Donnie looked at him. “And?”

His dad chuckled, “About halfway through, I was thinkin’ Vietnam wadn’t that bad.”

As they shared a laugh, Mary returned. “Thomas, why are you in here, distractin’ him? Didn’t I ask you get my tomato box down to put all the food in?” Before he could answer, she noticed Donnie’s shirt. “What is that you’re wearin’?”

“Um, I think it’s a shirt.” His dad stifled a laugh.

“Don’t get smart with me, mister. That is not the one I laid out, so why are you wearin’ it?”

“Because I don’t like the one you laid out.”

“You don’t like the one I laid out?” she repeated. “What’s wrong with it?”

“Well, for one thing, the sleeves come down over my hands. It makes me look like a kid wearin’ his big brother’s hand-me-downs.”

She huffed, ruffling her bangs as she did whenever she was unhappy. “I bought that shirt specifically for this occasion. You are going to wear it.”

“No.”

“Excuse me?” Her disbelief at his rebellion was palpable.

“I. Am. Not. Wearin’. That. Shirt. End of story.”

Before the situation spiraled further out of control, Thomas stepped between them. “Mary, he’s an adult. He can decide for himself what to wear.” She opened her mouth as if to say something but didn’t. He turned to Donnie. “And, you. Is that anyway to talk to your mother?”

Donnie shook his head, sheepishly. “No sir, it’s not. I’m sorry, Mama.” Concealing his distaste at giving in, he said, “Give me a minute and I’ll change.”

She waved dismissively. “No, your daddy’s right, you’re a grown man. You can dress yourself.”

Crisis averted, Thomas gently guided his wife through the bedroom door. He looked back over his shoulder at Donnie and said, “Come on, boy. Help me load up all this food.” With a twinkle in his eye, he added, “We wouldn’t want to be late and give your Aunt Dottie a chance to lecture your mother about bein’ on time.”

__________________________

 

Though he wouldn’t have believed it thirty minutes earlier, Donnie was relieved to have arrived at the church after stopping to pick up his grandmother. While Donnie thought the world of his Granny, she was extremely hard of hearing and often didn’t wear her hearing aids. And, because his mother was physically incapable of not carrying on a conversation when anyone was in her presence, he had spent the last half hour listening to his mother and grandmother make inane small talk at ridiculous volumes.

He wasn’t sure the car had completely stopped when he unbuckled his seat belt and clambered out. Not the first time since the day began, he thought, Why did this thing have to be at a damn church. My god, I need a drink. He had thought about bringing some liquor with him, but that had proved impossible with his mom hovering over him nervously. He had almost reached the door when his mother spoke.

“Stop right there, mister. We’re goin’ in together. As a family.”

He looked back and realized he’d left the rest of them behind. Granny must have trouble getting out of the car, he thought. In addition to her hearing issues, his grandmother was in dire need of a hip replacement; something she refused to address. He remembered a conversation they’d had about the matter. They’d been sitting in her living room not long after he’d gotten out the medical center at Camp Lejuene. He had noticed her favoring her left leg earlier and asked, “Why are you limpin’, Granny?

She was working on a quilt for the latest grandchild and said without looking up, “The doctors say I need a new hip.”

He nodded. “You gonna do it?”

“Nope.”

That surprised him. “No? Why not?”

Still working, she said, “Because I’m not going back in that hospital again.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Son, that’s major surgery and the recovery ain’t easy if you’re young. I think we both know I’m way past “young”. Besides, every time I’ve ever been in that place, the nurses won’t let me alone, always poking and prodding and wakin’ me up for all sorts of nonsense when the best thing I could be doin’ is restin’.” She looked up from her sewing and said, “You know as well as I do that the hospital is no place for sick people.”

While he remembered all this, his family caught up to him. His mother stopped in front of him and began fussing with his clothes. “There. You look very nice. Even if you’re not wearing the clothes I picked out specifically for this occasion.”

Donnie had a feeling it wouldn’t be the last time he heard about that. “Mama–”, he started, but his dad caught his eye and mouthed, “Let it go.” Donnie got the message.

“What?” his mother asked.

“Nothin’. It’s not important.”

She looked at him for a moment, puzzled. Then, she shook her head. “Okay, is everybody ready?” When they all nodded, she said, “Let’s go.”

­­­­_____________________________

Donnie sat at a table accompanied only by his mother and grandmother’s pocketbooks. In the forty-five minutes since they’d walked in the door, there had been maybe five or ten words spoken to him. After he’d brought three conversations to a screeching halt solely by his presence, he gave up and started back to the family’s table. As he walked, he noticed a strange phenomenon: whenever he approached a group, people moved away from him like magnets repelling each other. It irritated him, but he wasn’t sure what to do about it. For a few minutes, he toyed with the idea of pretending to have a psychotic break. While falling on the floor, spouting gibberish and foaming at the mouth — not the way it would’ve happened for him, but no one here would know that — might have been fun, his mother would be mortified. Even though he would’ve gotten a perverse satisfaction out of that, the last thing he wanted was to hurt her.

Right about then, he noticed his cousin walking across the room. Steve had been his closest companion growing up, but these days they hardly spoke. That was partly because his cousin thought Fox News was run by communists, preferring instead to get his news from Alex Jones InfoWars. The other part was that the only thing Steve wanted to talk about was his membership in a Civil War reenactment group, the 70th North Carolina Regiment. Not long after Donnie had gotten back from Iraq, Steve had cornered him at the family Christmas gathering and said that he kind of understood what Donnie had been through because he’d done the battle reenactment at Bentonville the previous March. Yeah, Donnie thought, playing soldier thirty minutes down the road is exactly like being 6000 miles from home with a thousand screaming Hajis out for your blood. He was afraid another dose of stupidity might be more than he could stand and prayed his cousin would pass him by. After a second or two, Donnie realized that wasn’t going to happen. Shit, he thought as his chin dropped to his chest.

Steve pulled up a chair. “Hey, bud. Ain’t seen you in a while. Where you been hidin’ at?”

That caught Donnie off guard. Could it be that he didn’t know what happened? Donnie’s mom had worked hard to keep his condition a secret and, while it didn’t seem to take with anybody else, Steve could be a different story. He knew his cousin would fall for almost anything if the speaker was convincing enough. He decided to stick with the story his mother had put together and feel out the situation.

“I had to go back to Camp Lejeune for a little while to tie up some loose ends, out process, that sort of thing.” He decided to push the envelope a little. “And, I had to go to the VA Hospital over in Durham because I was having some problems from the explosion. That took a while.” He shook his head, “Man, that VA paperwork is a bitch.”

Steve nodded. “Yeah, that whole situation is fucked up. God damn government, man.”

Holy shit, Donnie thought, Am I really pulling this off? Just be cool and stick with your story. Steve has the attention span of a gnat. Any second now, he’ll yell, “SQUIRREL!” and take off. You can do this, man. Just. Be. Cool.

He was beginning to settle down when he saw his aunt Vicki heading their way. Oh god, he thought, what’s it going to be today, her standard anti-vaxx bullshit or something truly weird like, ‘chemicals in our water are turning our kids gay’? He braced himself accordingly, but was hit from an unexpected direction when Steve blurted out, “So, did you go crazy or what?”

Vicki heard him and slapped the back of his head, knocking his cap off. “Damn it, Steve! We told you not to ask that.”

Steve picked up his hat. “Fuck, Aunt Vicki! That hurt.” He snapped it right side out and shoved it back on his head. “I don’t know what you’re so mad about. It ain’t my fault I’m the only one with the balls to ask the thing we’re all wonderin’ about.”

She hit him again. “Watch your damn language, boy. This is the Lord’s house. Even if we are in the basement.”

Donnie, realizing he had not pulled it off, said, “It’s okay, Aunt Vicki. It was bound to come out sooner or later.” He sighed. “No, Steve, I didn’t ‘go crazy’. I’ve got PTSD because of what happened during my last tour Iraq. A couple of months ago, I had a really bad flashback and had to go the hospital for a while.” As he spoke, Donnie saw Steve’s mom walking over. He knew his Aunt Nina harbored no illusions about her son’s intelligence. But, let someone else bad mouth her boy and she turned into a mother bear protecting her cub. Oh, this’ll be good, he thought.

“Vicki, what the hell do you mean, smacking my son around like that?” When Nina was angry, she had an unconscious habit of cocking her left hip and resting her hand on it. When she was really mad, she waved the other hand around and her finger usually wound up an inch or so from the face whoever had incurred her wrath. And, whenever she did it, it was all Donnie could do not to laugh. This time was no different and he had to turn away to hide the smile he knew would only make things worse.

His Aunt Vicki, veteran of a thousand clashes with her older sister, was no shrinking violet and didn’t back down. “Because your idiot son point-blank asked Donnie if he went crazy, that’s why! Even after we all told him keep his damn mouth shut.” Vicki crossed her arms over her chest and leaned back, satisfied.

Nina gave Steve a look that Donnie thought could curdle milk and his cousin visibly wilted. Donnie knew her disapproval it didn’t have anything to do with an injury to his feelings: Nina was angry because her son had screwed up in front of her sister and made her look bad. There were a number of sins in his mother’s family and one of the worst was losing face in front of a sibling. You never wanted to be in that situation, because whoever saw it would make sure everyone else knew. Also, your mistake would be the topic of conversation at every family gathering until someone else screwed up.

Nina squared up with her taller sister. “Him bein’ dumb as a stump ain’t a reason for you to beat the shit out of him. If you got a problem with my son, you talk to me and I’ll handle it.”

Just then, Donnie noticed movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned his head to see his mother storming out of the kitchen, trailed by his Aunt Dottie and realized things were about to go from bad to worse. Dottie was the oldest of the sisters and was, Donnie thought, the foremost practitioner of the family creed. She constantly criticized her sisters: everything from their choice of mate, the way they kept house, the way they raised their children or how they appeared in public was fair game in her eyes. He was sure that she was never happier than when she was pointing out a fault in one of her siblings. Look at that smug expression, he thought. Three for the price of one? She must be loving this.

His mother approached the table where he sat. “What in the world is goin’ on out here?” She blew her bangs. “We could hear your racket all the way in the kitchen.”

Nina waved a hand and said, “Oh, Steve said somethin’ a little ignorant to Donnie and Vicki thought that gave her permission to beat him up.”

Donnie watched the color drain out of his mother’s face as she realized all her carefully laid plans to conceal his illness were sunk. Dottie saw her opening and seized it. “What did he say?” she asked sweetly.

Now, it was Nina’s turn to blanch. She hemmed and hawed a bit, before Vicki spoke for her. “I’ll tell you what he said. He asked Donnie if he went crazy.”

Dottie gasped — unconvincingly Donnie thought — and shook her head. “Oh, Stevie”, she said. “Why would you do that?”

Everyone turned to look at Dottie, as if to say, “What the hell?” Except for his mother. Donnie saw her staring at Steve and he could feel her ire growing exponentially. She stood there, not saying a word, her indignation taking on a life of its own. As he watched, things telescoped down to just him, his mother and his cousin. He could hear his aunts arguing, but it was muffled, like he was underwater. His mother, however, gave no indication that anyone else in that room existed except for Steve. Everything was in slow motion, like they were moving through molasses. He could tell when she snapped. He thought he should try and stop her. But, before thought could become action, she reached out and slapped Steve hard across the face, saying “You little son-of-a-bitch!”. Things went downhill from there.

_________________________________

The ride home passed in silence until Donnie’ grandmother said, “Well, that was interestin’.”

“Interestin’!?” Mary snapped. “Mama, we can’t ever show our faces in that church again. I don’t think ‘interestin’’ is the word I’d use to describe what just happened.” She turned back to face the windshield. “A fiasco is what it was.”

His grandmother sighed. “Mary, you worry too much about what people think. Nothin’ got broken and it didn’t actually come to blows, so how bad can it be?”

Thomas spoke up. “Didn’t come to blows, huh? Well, I guess not. Unless you want to count poor old Steve getting the snot slapped out of him by his aunts.”

A laugh burst out of Donnie’s mouth. His mother jerked around and glared at him and he thought, What the hell, might as well go for it. “That was fun, but everythin’ came to a screeching halt when Mama snatched Aunt Dottie’s wig off.”

“That was an accident and you know it, Donnie!”

Even though he saw the red in his mother’s face deepen, he couldn’t help himself, “Maybe so, but it was funny as hell.” His father and grandmother must have agreed, because they laughed, too.

“It was not funny, it was embarrassin’!” She shook her head, “Poor Dottie, she must be mortified.”

“Oh, come on, honey,” Thomas said. “It’s not like nobody knew Dottie wore a wig. When the style and color changes from day to day the way hers does, a wig is the only explanation.”

Mary began to soften a little. “Well, yes. But, that doesn’t mean she wanted the truth of things to come out that way.”

Donnie’s grandmother again. “Mary, I don’t know why you’re so worried about her, after all the times she’s made you look foolish. Personally, I thought it was kind of nice to see the snooty little shit get a taste of her own medicine.”

“Granny!” Donnie was shocked. He’d never heard his grandmother say anything like that before.

She put a hand on his knee. “Son, Dottie is my oldest child and I love her to death, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be realistic about her.” She gave his knee a pat. “And, like your daddy said, it’s not like Dottie wearin’ a wig was a big surprise. Some of ‘em are oh-so obvious.”

“And hilarious,” his father said. “There’s somethin’ about a 65-year-old woman with purple hair that makes people laugh.”

“I love the one she was wearin’ today,” Donnie said. “It makes her look like a stalk of broccoli.” Dottie was a painfully thin woman and the wig in question was sort of a flattened out bouffant. If you looked at that combination in silhouette, the resemblance was unmistakable.

That was more than Mary could take and she burst out laughing. “Oh, my god,” she said. “I didn’t see it until just now, but you’re right. She looked just like a sprig of broccoli.” She wiped her eyes. “I’m gonna have to apologize, though.” Everyone nodded in agreement.

“Well, of course,” Granny said. “We’ll never be able to get together again if you don’t.”

Donnie sat back, considering the idea of no more family gatherings. The exclusion and ostracism he’d felt most of the day had been awful and he never wanted to experience that again. At the same time, these people were his family and not seeing them again just didn’t feel…right. And of course, the entertainment value of a shindig with his mom’s family was about as good as you were going to find. Anywhere. He realized that, for all his dreading of the occasion, it hadn’t been that bad. And, surprisingly, that he wanted to do it again. Not any time soon, that was for sure. Maybe next year. Yeah, he thought, a year sounded just about right. Silence settled over the car again. Only this time, it was comfortable, satisfied. Donnie leaned his head back closed his eyes and, for the first time that day, relaxed.

 

 

 

The Guy’s Guide to Naming Your Junk

Say hello to my little friend.

Usually essays like this are titled “The Gentleman’s Guide to _________”. While writing such an study would pose an interesting challenge, it’s not realistic. Not only do gentlemen refrain from naming their junk, they would never refer to their wedding tackle like that. In fact, a true gentleman works hard to give the impression that he is as smooth as a Ken doll downstairs. No, beloved, naming your naughty bits is the exclusive domain of that beer-drinking, sports-watching Everyman, the “guy”.

There are people who are going to tell you that baptizing your bits and pieces is a bad thing. But, that’s not necessarily true. Lots of influential people have christened their codger. Like, say, Ernest Hemingway.  Yes, you read that right: one of the greatest writers in literary history had a title for his tallywhacker. He called it “Mr. Scrooby”. Look, Papa was the ultimate man’s man and if he did it, how bad can it be?
That said, you have to be careful because there are pitfalls. One of the biggest is the tendency to go overboard. We all know someone who has designated his dipstick and proudly embeds that epithet into every conversation, whether it’s appropriate or not. And, it’s always something like “Conan the Barbarian”. Just so you know, if that’s the name you choose for your chubby, we all know it’s more Tyrion Lanister than Conan.
Besides being douchey in the extreme, naming your night stick after Robert Howard’s iconic barbarian isn’t remotely original. I firmly believe that if you’re going to name a body part, you have a responsibility to make some effort at coming with a unique eponym. I mean, it’s yours and there’s not another like it anywhere, so why not come up with a name that celebrates it’s singularity? Also, it should fit the part in question because this is not an area where you want to set up an unrealistic expectation. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to hear at the big reveal is a disappointed “Aww”.
I cannot stress enough that dubbing your dangler is something that requires consideration and imagination. If you happen to be one of society’s less creative members, don’t despair because the internet is here for you. As our culture’s repository of everything, no matter how absurd, idiotic, or trivial, there are multiple sites on the web that will help you come up with a moniker for your maypole. And, caring soul that I am, I have looked into it for you. But, please, use what you learn here as a jumping off point for your own sausage sobriquet.
Let’s start with entertainment related appellations. Things like “Womb Raider”, “Just-in-Beaver”, or “Woody Wombpecker” are excellent examples. A note of caution: You may be tempted use self-deprecating humor and label your lance something diminutive in the belief that it will make you look humble, yet funny and endear you to your prospective partner. And, it may. Or, it could backfire. If you think someone saying “Aww” when you drop trou is bad, imagine hearing, “Tiny Tim, huh? Accurate.” And, that’s even if you make it that far. I mean, if you don’t believe in your bottle rocket, why should anyone else?
You could also follow the lead of certain celebrities who have given a handle to their hard-on. Hugh Jackman, for instance, calls his “Old James Roger”. Gary Busey is said to refer to his member as “Big Wednesday”. That comes perilously close to “Conan”, but we are talking about a man who is delightfully insane, so I’ll give him a pass. Contrast this with Rainn Wilson’s patronymic for his pecker, “The Fail Whale”. This is a masterpiece when it comes to applying an alias to your appendage. It uses of self-deprecating humor to counteract any hint of bragging. But, more importantly, the implication of size is still planted in the listener’s brain. And, that is brilliant. Just. Effin’. Brilliant.
Now, in no way is this a comprehensive guide to christening your crank. I could go on about this subject indefinitely because it’s close to my heart. Okay, that may be stretching things a bit (remember what I said about unrealistic expectations). Maybe it’s better to say it’s one of my favorites. Anyway, let what you read here inspire you to author the agnomen for your anaconda that it truly deserves and bring you much love and happiness. Or, at least get your foot in the door to get laid.

Usually essays like this are titled “The Gentleman’s Guide to _________”. While writing such an study would pose an interesting challenge, it’s not realistic. Not only do gentlemen refrain from naming their junk, they would never refer to their wedding tackle like that. In fact, a true gentleman works hard to give the impression that he is as smooth as a Ken doll downstairs. No, beloved, naming your naughty bits is the exclusive domain of that beer-drinking, sports-watching Everyman, the “guy”.

There are people who are going to tell you that baptizing your bits and pieces is a bad thing. But, that’s not necessarily true. Lots of influential people have christened their codger. Like, say, Ernest Hemingway.  Yes, you read that right: one of the greatest writers in literary history had a title for his tallywhacker. He called it “Mr. Scrooby”. Look, Papa was the ultimate man’s man and if he did it, how bad can it be?
That said, you have to be careful because there are pitfalls. One of the biggest is the tendency to go overboard. We all know someone who has designated his dipstick and proudly embeds that epithet into every conversation, whether it’s appropriate or not. And, it’s always something like “Conan the Barbarian”. Just so you know, if that’s the name you choose for your chubby, we all know it’s more Tyrion Lanister than Conan.
Besides being douchey in the extreme, naming your night stick after Robert Howard’s iconic barbarian isn’t remotely original. I firmly believe that if you’re going to name a body part, you have a responsibility to make some effort at coming with a unique eponym. I mean, it’s yours and there’s not another like it anywhere, so why not come up with a name that celebrates it’s singularity? Also, it should fit the part in question because this is not an area where you want to set up an unrealistic expectation. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to hear at the big reveal is a disappointed “Aww”.
I cannot stress enough that dubbing your dangler is something that requires consideration and imagination. If you happen to be one of society’s less creative members, don’t despair because the internet is here for you. As our culture’s repository of everything, no matter how absurd, idiotic, or trivial, there are multiple sites on the web that will help you come up with a moniker for your maypole. And, caring soul that I am, I have looked into it for you. But, please, use what you learn here as a jumping off point for your own sausage sobriquet.
Let’s start with entertainment related appellations. Things like “Womb Raider”, “Just-in-Beaver”, or “Woody Wombpecker” are excellent examples. A note of caution: You may be tempted use self-deprecating humor and label your lance something diminutive in the belief that it will make you look humble, yet funny and endear you to your prospective partner. And, it may. Or, it could backfire. If you think someone saying “Aww” when you drop trou is bad, imagine hearing, “Tiny Tim, huh? Accurate.” And, that’s even if you make it that far. I mean, if you don’t believe in your bottle rocket, why should anyone else?
You could also follow the lead of certain celebrities who have given a handle to their hard-on. Hugh Jackman, for instance, calls his “Old James Roger”. Gary Busey is said to refer to his member as “Big Wednesday”. That comes perilously close to “Conan”, but we are talking about a man who is delightfully insane, so I’ll give him a pass. Contrast this with Rainn Wilson’s patronymic for his pecker, “The Fail Whale”. This is a masterpiece when it comes to applying an alias to your appendage. It uses of self-deprecating humor to counteract any hint of bragging. But, more importantly, the implication of size is still planted in the listener’s brain. And, that is brilliant. Just. Effin’. Brilliant.
Now, in no way is this a comprehensive guide to christening your crank. I could go on about this subject indefinitely because it’s close to my heart. Okay, that may be stretching things a bit (remember what I said about unrealistic expectations). Maybe it’s better to say it’s one of my favorites. Anyway, let what you read here inspire you to author the agnomen for your anaconda that it truly deserves and bring you much love and happiness. Or, at least get your foot in the door to get laid. ‘Cause there ain’t nothing wrong with that.

ADHD and Me

Recently, I read an article that said 6.7% of Americans suffer from depression. A year ago, I would’ve said, “No, that’s too much. That’s 22 million people. No way that many folks are depressed.” But, I’ve been hanging out with comedians for the past year and now I’m like, “Yeah, that sounds about right.” If anything, it sounds kind of low. Y’all might not now this, but comedians and depression go together like tacos and Tuesdays. Some of the ones I know could make the most nihilistic goth kid come off like Ellen Degeneres.
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the more depressed you are, the funnier you are. And, dabbling in comedy the way that I do, I’m a little worried. Why? Because I’m not depressed. Now, understand that when I say “depressed”, I’m not talking about “feeling low” depressed, I mean “constantly contemplating suicide” depressed. I’m not going to say I never think about killing myself, because I do. It usually happens while I’m talking to my ex-wife. There are no words to explain why a conversation with this woman is so bad; to be truly understood, it has to be experienced. The closest I can come  is that it’s like walking up to a stranger and paying them to punch you in the nuts. Repeatedly.
Just because I’m not depressed doesn’t mean I’m not broken, it means I’m screwed up in a different way. You see, I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The DSM V (Side note, DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and unless you work in the mental health field, knowing that, not to mention the current edition, isn’t a good thing) defines ADHD as “A persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development”. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
You might think that means I can’t concentrate very well. And, you’d be right… most of the time. But every now and than, I have a laser focus. Unfortunately, it tends to be on things that aren’t productive, like Wikipedia. I can read that junk for hours. But, even then, I can get distracted.  Let’s say I’m reading an entry about the Rubik’s cube and the next thing I know, I’m down the rabbit hole looking at an article about Roland the Farter, flatulist and jester to King Henry II of England. In case you’re wondering, a flatulist is exactly what you think: “an entertainer (sometimes considered a comedian) whose routine consists solely or primarily of passing gas in a creative, musical, or amusing manner”. Don’t get hung up by the question of how someone who farts on stage is anything other than a comedian, just know that it’s as hilarious as it sounds.
And, reading is just the beginning of the distraction train. Once it leaves the station, it takes me to YouTube. Why? Because you have to see if there are any videos about a guy who farts for a living. There are, including several by Roland’s artistic heir, Mr. Methane. And, you should watch every one of them.
If you think a host of farting videos should be able hold my attention, you are, oh so wrong. ADHD is so insidiously powerful that it can overwhelm even the most juvenile humor. Basically, I’ll watch for a few minutes and then get pulled away by something in the sidebar. And, not even something good, either, it’s always stupid shit (why are cat videos so riveting?). And, before you know it, I’m getting down to Disco Star Wars. And, yes, there is a disco version of the Star Wars soundtrack. If you didn’t know that, don’t call yourself a Star Wars fan, you poser.
 So, why am I telling you this? Could it be that I’m playing on your sympathy for some gratuitous laughs by exposing this contemptuously pitiful existence I call my “life”. Wow, maybe I’m more depressed than I thought. Hooray, comedy is not outside my grasp after all!

County Line Blues

This started out as a piece of flash fiction that kind of got away from me. It was inspired by people I actually know and Joe Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard series. Enjoy.

“So, what are we doing?” Jack looked at his brother as they drove over a mass of potholes that used to be a road.

Charley sighed. “I done told you twice. We’re going over to King Henry’s to see if Ricky’s there.”

Jack was silent for a moment, then asked, “What makes you think that little turd ‘ll be at King’s place?”

Charley steered the truck around a particularly big pothole and said, “Because King’s has got all the stuff a growing boy like Ricky wants: liquor, girls, gambling, drugs. Plus, he wants to be a Soldado. I guess he don’t know those shitheads are the Outlaws’ bitches” Charley shook his head. “It’s just the kind of dumb ass idea he’d come up with.”

“Are you sayin’ Ricky ain’t that bright?” Jack asked as a grin began to play across his face.

“No, I’m sayin’ Ricky’s so god damned dumb, he couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the instructions  was on the heel.”

“I see. And, why are we lookin’ for his dumb ass?”

“Because Cheryl asked me to.”

“Uh huh. You still trying to get in her pants?”

“I already did. Now, I’m trying to stay in her good graces so I can get in ’em again.”

“Yeah, I can see that. Man starts gettin’ it on the regular, he’ll do a lot to keep that situation goin’.” Jack sat for a moment, “That explains why you’re here. It don’t say shit about me, though.”

Charley smiled and said, “You’re here because you’re my brother and you love me.”

“I don’t know that I love anybody enough to get shot or stabbed or beat up. Especially over some pussy that I ain’t gettin’.”

“Okay, how about you don’t want to miss a chance of seein’ me get my ass whipped?”

Jack thought for a moment. “That’ll do.”

 

“King’s Roadhouse,” Charley read aloud as they stood in the parking lot. “Kinda grand-i-oise to use the word ‘King’ in connection with this shithole, don’t you think?”

“Did you say ‘grand-i-oise’? That ain’t even a word.”

Charley bristled at his brother’s critique. “Yes, it is. It means, ‘impressive’ or ‘fancy’.”

Jack snorted. “I’m sure there’s a word that means that, but it ain’t ‘grand-i-oise’. I call bullshit.”

“Really? You call bullshit?” Charley eyed him. “One of us went off and joined the Army while the other went to college and tried to better himself. Now, which one do you reckon has a better handle on words?”

Jack stopped. “Charley, you went to Chowan College for two semesters before you flunked out. That barely qualifies as “goin’ to college”. And, I wouldn’t call what you did while you was there ‘bettering yourself’.” He paused. “Now, if you had said defilin’ yourself, I could get onboard with that.”

Charley gave him a sour look, then said, “I want to argue with you, but I can’t.” He ran his hand through his hair. “Let’s get this over with. I don’t want to spend anymore time in this fuckin’ dump than I absolutely have to.”

 

They walked across the gravel parking lot, passing a pair plain jane work trucks that sandwiched a raised and customized F-250. “Look at that,” Jack said, indicating massive Ford, “I’ll bet it’s worth more than the idiot that owns it makes in a year.”

“Yeah,” Charley said, “What is it with these rednecks? I can understand a pick up, it’s useful. But, all these Camaros and Mustangs? You can’t carry shit in ’em.” He shook his head. “And, they ain’t picky, either. Most of these fuckin’ things are more Bondo and primer than they are sheet metal.” They continued across the lot.

The building itself was a big, clapboard two story affair with a porch that stretched all the way across the front. Like everyone else, they knew the first floor was ostensibly a strip bar, but also provided space for more illicit activities; there were alcoves all around the edges where the dancers and dealers drummed up side business. The second floor was where that business took place. There was a series of rooms off a central hall where, if the price was right, you could satisfy your urges in pretty much any way you wanted. They paused for a moment on the porch and looked at each other. Then, Charley opened the door.

 

Inside the bar was almost pitch black after the sunshine and it took a minute for their eyes to adjust. As he began to make out his surroundings, Jack noticed someone walking over to them. Before he could tell who it was, they spoke. “Jack Beasley, as I live and breathe.”

“Gina? Damn, girl. Been a long time since I seen you.” Gina Jenkins had been the closest thing to a girlfriend he’d had prior to joining the Army. She walked up and embraced him, pulling his face down to hers and kissing him so passionately that Charley looked away, uncomfortable. “Guess you missed me, huh?” Jack smirked.

She released him and pushed away. “Shut the fuck up.” She noticed Charley standing beside him and smiled. “Hey shug. Where you been hiding at?”  Before he could answer, she hooked her arm in Jack’s and said, “Y’all come with me,” and led them over to one of the alcoves. “How long you been home, Jack?” she asked as they sat down.

“A week or two,” he answered. “Gina, it’s good to see you and I’d love to catch up, but we’re looking for somebody.”

“I know.” She nodded toward a door diagonally across from them. “He’s in the backroom, playing poker with Billy Ray and the boys.” She looked around. “Listen, y’all be careful. Billy Ray’s took a shine to him and talkin’ about makin’ him a prospect.” She looked at Charley. “I know you wanta drag him back to his mama and all, but they won’t be happy if you do.”

“Who the fuck is Billy Ray?” Charley asked.

Jack shook his head. “Billy Ray Thomas?” Charley shrugged. “He’s the head of the Soldados, you dumb shit. Didn’t you do any recon beforehand?” The Soldado’s were an outlaw motorcycle gang who ran security at several of Henry’s establishments. Jack noticed his brother looking the direction Gina had indicated. “This changes things, Charley. We can’t just haul him out of the–. Where the hell are you going?” Before Jack could get up, his brother was already halfway to the room. He looked at Gina, “You might want to hide, ’cause this ain’t gonna end well.”

By the time Jack got to the room, Charley was already inside and, from the sound of things, was making his presence known. He heard some shouts and a loud crash and Charley came out holding a thin teenager with a mullet by the collar. The boy was struggling and cursing.

“Let go of me, you son-of-a-bitch!” he yelled at Charley. “Just cause you fuckin’ my mama don’t mean you got shit to say about me.”

Charley stopped and slapped the boy so hard across the face he would’ve fallen had Charley not been holding him up. “You don’t talk about your mother that way, you little shit.”

Ricky cowered and whimpered, “Yes sir.”

Just then, a large man in a black t-shirt and jeans stepped out into the main area. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing, Beasley? Put my boy down and get the fuck out of here, before we kick the shit outta you.”

Jack stepped up. “Who are you gonna kick the shit out of, you fat fuck?” He sensed rather than saw the man slipping up on his right and threw a wicked side kick into his midsection. The man crumpled to the floor, dropping the opened Buck knife he’d been holding. Charley dropped Ricky and gave him a quick punch to the head to immobilize him and then joined in. The brothers held their own for a while, but it seemed that, for every biker they took out the fight, two more appeared. Jack was beginning to worry that they would be overwhelmed and that wouldn’t be good. He and Billy Ray had a history and the big man held a grudge. They had to get out of there. He grabbed Ricky by the collar and began fighting his way to the front door, Charley right beside him. They were taking a beating, but they were making progress. He just wasn’t sure if that progress was fast enough. Before they knew it, though, they were out the door. Jack was looking around for their truck when a Jeep Cherokee SRT slid to a stop in front of them and Gina yelled, “Get in, you dumbasses!” They didn’t ask questions, just tossed Ricky in the back and jumped in. She tore out of the parking lot in a spray of gravel.

 

Jack sat up and laughed. “Well, that was sporty.” He touched his cheek and winced. One of the bikers had landed a blow that almost put him on the floor. “Oh, that’s gonna hurt in the mornin’.”

Charley, looking the worse for the wear himself, gazed back at the bar. “They’re gonna fuck my truck up something awful.”

Jack looked at him for a second and started to laugh. “We just humiliated a bunch of outlaw bikers on their home turf and you’re worried about your god damn truck?” He shook his head. “Classic fuckin’ Charley.”

Those Damn Millennials

Not a day goes by when I don’t see something about “those damn millennials” in my social media feeds. All too often, it’s some Baby Boomer bitching about how young people are too attached to their cell phones and want everything handed to them on a plate because they got a participation trophy when they were 7 years old and are lazy, little shits who won’t work and still live with their mommies and are destroying the country with their insistence on political correctness and… well, you get the picture.

I’ve seen some interesting responses to these complaints, but this one from my friend, Jacki, is especially good:

“How do young people today manage to simultaneously be demon possessed heathens with no moral compass or work ethic *and* be overly emotional, sensitive snowflakes that are too PC and work constantly for little pay?

How do immigrants both steal our jobs and manage to be lazy, living off of taxpayers?

The same people espousing these ideas can’t seem to hold seemingly opposing but equally valid viewpoints in their heads, but somehow manage to hold completely opposing viewpoints that can’t both be true all the time without notice.”

Now, before I go any further, I should probably tell you that I’m a Boomer. Okay, actually, I’m what’s called a “cusper” since I was born at tail of end of the Baby Boom (1961). Because of that, I identify more with Gen X than my designated generation. I should also tell you that I use this fact to my advantage and do everything in my power to hide any connection with the Baby Boom generation.

Why do I hide the fact that I’m a Boomer? Obviously, it’s not vanity. I mean, hell, I told you my age just a few lines ago. No, I hide my generational affiliation out of a sense of self-preservation. Let’s face it, Boomers are assholes. We’re more responsible than any other generation for the unhinged Oompa Loompa who is doing his best to destroy the country. We taught our kids to value their self-esteem above everything else and then, when they act that teaching, we laugh and call them “snowflakes”. And, we’re the ones who gave kids the participation trophies we love to bitch about, saying “My god, you guys want a medal just for showing up!” Basically, letting that Boomer cat out of the generational bag at the wrong time is liable to get you cut.

I would love to say we became our parents in spite of all our efforts not to do so. And, while that would be the Boomer thing to do (avoiding responsibility for our shitty actions by placing the blame somewhere else is what we do best), it wouldn’t be truthful because our parents didn’t do this shit. Oh, they fucked up plenty, that’s for sure. I mean, they’re ones responsible for the Boomers. But, they never blamed us for all their mistakes the way we blame millennials. Mostly, they wondered what the hell was wrong with us indulging in all that sex, drugs and rock and roll and lived up to the name “Silent generation”.

So, how did we become such utter wankers? Damned if I know.  Maybe if we’d gotten a participation trophy somewhere a long the way…

 

The Nashville Statement and the Progressive Response

Recently, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood released something called “The Nashville Statement“. I suspect normal folks are blissfully unaware of this development. Those of us with any kind of connection to progressive theological circles? We aren’t so lucky. That’s folks in those progressive theological circles have lost their fucking minds about the Nashville Statement.

Is your curiosity piqued yet? Are champing at the bit to learn just what could be so awful that it would make thoughtful, tolerant, forward-looking clergy people work themselves into an absolute lather? Yeah, I didn’t think so. It’s not like this a rare occurrence; progressive folks have a well-documented history of losing their shit over things that, in the bigger picture, aren’t really worth… well, losing your shit over.

The Nashville Statement

This time, however, it’s well justified because the Nashville Statement is more heinous fuckery from the people who brought you complementarianism (a fancy word for “Keep ’em barefoot and pregnant”); sounded the (false) alarm that same-sex marriage would bring society crashing down around us; and continue to promote the scientifically debunked practice of conversion therapy. Using a term as innocuous as “Statement” to describe this moral violation is too goddamned restrained. I’m thinking “Shitstain” is a better descriptor.

Before we go any further, I should probably warn you that, from here on out, things go downhill. I’m not going to get into the steaming pile of shit that is the Nashville Statement. Let’s just say it’s yet another swipe at the marginalized among us taken by the dominant culture; i.e., basically the opposite of everything Jesus said/taught during his time on Earth.

Of course, none of this is surprising when you consider that signers of the statement include James Dobson (Focus on the Family), Tony Perkins (Family Research Council) and John Piper (Desiring God website), all men who have built reputations and/or empires shitting on people who are LGBT+. Fuck those guys and everyone else who signed this awful document. Shit like this makes me long for the day when the Millenials finally take over.

The Progressive Response

Earlier, when I said people in progressive theological circles have lost their fucking minds about the Nashville Statement, I wasn’t kidding. Of course, when these folks lose their minds, it’s not like when you or I do. When we lose our shit, we cuss and throw stuff, call the target of our ire “assholes” or worse, and generally raise hell until our spleen is fully vented. But, when a progressive theologian loses it, they write a response to whatever is vexing them so and post it on line. And, it’s almost always thoughtful, well-written, and very, very composed. In other words, boring…as…fuck.

Just once, I’d love to see one of these progressive Christian thought leaders release a statement in response to some conservative evangelical bullshit that just burns it to the fucking ground. One that calls these motherfuckers out for the greedy, hateful bastards they are, ridicules their infantile interpretation of the Bible for the simplistic garbage that it truly is, and informs anyone that agrees with the views presented that should give up the name “Christian” because there is nothing of Christ in crap like the Nashville Statement. Instead, we get the following from the House for All Sinners & Saints’ Denver Statement: “WE DENY that God is a boy and has actual arms.” Really, Nadia? With your creative cursing ability, that’s the best you could come up with?

It Gets worse

At least one person speaking out against the Nashville Shitstain seems to be of the opinion that it’s a good thing, because some of the people in churches that affirm it will see the hate they are embracing and have a change of heart. Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt. Seriously though, Brian McLaren says in his response that this document “makes explicit what has been hidden”. Seriously? These fuckers have been very open and upfront about their feelings for LGBT folks for a long, long time. If anyone wasn’t aware of their beliefs on this matter, it’s because they didn’t want to be aware.

And, if the namby-pamby replies from progressive Christian leaders aren’t bad enough, there’s also an on-line petition making the rounds. Great! They fix everything and totally not a way for companies to get your email so they can spam the shit out of you with more worthless slacktivist petitions. How stupid do they think we are?

In Conclusion

I’m sure some lovely progressive people reading this and are thinking to themselves that I’m being overly harsh in my assessment of the Nashville Statement and the responses to it; that I should be tolerant and loving; in other words, “nice”. If that’s you, try to get your around head this fact: These assholes have attacked my son’s humanity and intrinsic value with their “manifesto of Christian conviction a/b our creation as male and female.” I ain’t being nice about that.