Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Cup Overfloweth

When I'm not torturing myself with parenting books, I have devoted a lot of time to my favorite vampire trash (love that Sookie Stackhouse :), so today in a moment of self awareness I determinedly grabbed a very not trash book and read the first chapter for the second time in about five years. I enjoyed it the first time around, this time it was So. Much. BETTER.

Really, the Book Of Guys by Garrison Keillor. See side bar, then see Amazon.com and get it. For the first chapter alone. If you love your husbands or fathers or sons, just get it. They might even let you read parts of it to them when they find out it has gems like “A fast ball travels ninety miles an hour or so, and if it isn’t thrown by guys, it isn’t going to be thrown, babes.”

He begins with a story about winding up in the woods at night with “the sort of desperate lowlifes who will tell you a long story for a five dollar loan, guys who everything unfortunate has happened to…the kind of disasters familiar to fans of the great Johnny Cash. Men…who looked so much older and sadder than you want people your own age to look.”

The men stay out all night and drink and sing and recite poetry “There was an old sailor named Tex who avoided women and sex by thinking of Jesus and terrible diseases and spending the night below decks.”

The whole story is delicious. I am not doing justice to it now, but I am quoting all of that because of the man in the story who talks about how he’s been “busting my butt for years to keep women happy, and they’re madder at me now then before I started trying so hard… I learned how to discuss issues and feelings and concerns and not make jokes about them, and they’re still angry at me”

Not that I didn’t expect it, but Jon laughed out loud at that, and I joined him. And apologized. So can I tie this all back to my obsession with figuring out the puzzle of my favorite spirited boy? You bet! One last long quote

“Miss. Woofenberg, our second grade teacher, worked hard to instill a womanly view of manhood in us boys. She taught us that it was manly to be quiet and be nice, to be neat, to share and yet give a slight advantage to girls, to be studious and listen and do as she said. These traits, which she believed girls innately possessed, Miss. Woofenberg urged us boys to learn and she made us repress our urge to push ahead, to grab, to fight, to struggle, to press forward in man’s relentless quest for superiority and world domination.

A man achieves world domination every time he does something awfully well … Guys need this feeling if they are going to survive … we have to be No. 1--sometime, somewhere, if only for ten minutes—or else we sag inside and become sad and careful, a guy who when he stands up you hear the tinkle of broken dreams.”

I’m not trying to plagiarize the whole chapter, but it’s JUST SO GREAT. And I am writing all of this because there is something about the way it unfolded in my brain that I needed to document, if not just to share here, but so I can come back to this post myself and drink from this cup when I forget this feeling.

There are books and magazines and talk shows. There is so much information aimed towards me and how to get the most bang for the buck out of my kids and their brains and their lives and their mac’n’cheese with hidden spinach. But I will tell you something real, my roommate Tiffani was taken from us in a car accident with her young son several years ago. You can hide all the spinach in the world in someone's mac’n’cheese but getting 1.3% more efficiency out of your brain isn’t going to change that this is the one life you have to be yourself.

Why would you waste one second of it chasing someone else's dream, or participating in someone else's idea of utopia (hello HOA I got your letter about the dirty garage door, and maybe I like it that color). I’m not saying I am signing Russell up to be the youngest World Wide Federation Wrestler, but I am going to stop apologizing for existing. I will continue to participate, but I am not going to feel beat up because Russell is a challenge. By myself, or teachers who want an easy class this year, or anyone who feels neglected by my never being able to answer my phone for fear of getting distracted long enough for Russell to poke out an eyeball (I’m talking to you cox cable, it doesn’t hurt me that I can’t tell the difference between what I already have and HD so stop calling).

Yeah, I got all of this from the first chapter of that book. I have a short attention span, but it packs a punch.

And speaking of punch, anyone want to see this picture I forgot I took of Russell’s eye right after he got his stitches? I’m warning you now, it’s GROSS and kinda rad. After all (as I have always told him) chics dig scars.



Caroline Kingsley said...

Nice eyeshadow. If all else fails, at least he still has his good looks, even with a shiner. And think of all the good battle wound stories he'll be able to tell when he gets older.

Andrea said...

The book sounds interesting. Russell's poor eye! Boys!!