Oh, Lil’ Wayne. I wished you the best when you were dying in that hospital bed, overcome with epileptic seizures, because I’m an epileptic myself. I know what coming out of that tunnel feels like. Then I find out you’d been sucking down something you call “syrup”. Do I have that right?
I hate sticking up for people, only to realize that they- That I should’ve just pretended not to notice them and kept on walking.
I don’t even know his work. I’m familiar with him, because- Well… Look at him. He’s pretty distinctive. I used to sort through magazines to sell on the rack we had at work when I was still with the market back in Nevada and the “Hip Hop” periodicals would come up and- Really? You like that look? Whatever, dude. Of course, the same could’ve been said of me if he were going through issues of lame-ass white middle-aged guys and saw me, there. “Really, dude? You like that look?” I like a lot of things that contribute to my look. Bacon, Coca-Cola, maple syrup. The “holy trinity” of fat men across the country. You could – and should – wedge beer in there, somewhere. As an honorable mention, as not all of us drink. Or as often as we’d like. So it must, at least, be kept as a backup, coming in at a close fourth. I have no verifiable data on this, on rankings and preferences; it’s all based on opinion. Your trinity may be different, but I’m assuming just as inviting. “Cheeseburgers, whiskey, macaroni and cheese.” Or “fried eggs, hashbrowns, Snickers candy bars”. It’s really just three of any of the best things we can think of, coming up at random like items on the reels of a lardy, delicious slot machine. There are no losers. Until our arteries completely solidify and our families are praying for us at our bedsides like I was praying for Lil’ Wayne at my computer terminal to come out of his coma.
“Fuck Lil’ Wayne,” a friend of mine snarled.
“What?” I gasped. “Don’t you know what he’s going through?”
“Don’t you know why he’s in the hospital?”
I really hadn’t. I knew nothing of the guy, other than that he was a “Hip Hop” artist and that he was “fighting for his life”.
“He did it to himself!” my friend hissed. Explained the “syrup” thing to me – the beverage he regularly concocted to get high. She has a seizure disorder as well. Reports to tend to stay away from shit that might help bring one on. Like the abuse of cough medication. Or cocaine. Or anything else considered illicit. “I don’t feel sorry for him. I mean, I don’t wanna see him dead… But… It’s his fault.”
I don’t even know any of his tunes.
Now the guy’s stomping all over the flag and-
Whatever, man. You’re making a helluva bed to lie in.
I try not to be too judgmental of others. Because I can be extremely judgmental. Arriving at conclusions of people based on the most superficial of things. Hatefully tearing people apart for things that maybe are beyond their control. But… If you’re tearing yourself apart…
“Fuck Lil’ Wayne.”
So. Fathers’ Day happened. If you know me, you know that I was brought up by my maternal grandparents until I was seven. My grandmother died, that year. That summer. A few weeks after her forty-forth birthday. Which was just a few days after my mine. And always around Mothers’ Day. She sometimes treated us to a mutual gift. When I turned five, she took me to get a puppy. He was ours. He represented the bond we shared as well as a celebration of my birth, her birth, and a day to celebrate all mothers.
What this has to do with Fathers’ Day, I don’t know. It meant something when I started typing it, though. So I think on it. And what I’ve quickly come up with was that- What I always do when I think of the woman’s death: she died almost exactly a year younger than I am now. There’s also this: I can’t bring up the same imagery, the same feeling I had for her when I access thoughts of a day meant to celebrate my father. Which, over the years, has produced- I’m considering my reactions. Over the years. To Fathers’ Day. To the idea of my dad. And what both mean to me. Or don’t mean. It’s a struggle. It is as I type this. Because, in the beginning, he wasn’t there. He was a myth, someone who only existed in tales told to a very little boy meant to bring happiness. To a little boy who wanted to idolize his father like all boys want to when they’re little guys. Then there was reality. When he was revealed to me and the truth of him shattered the myth. Mostly in ways that weren’t at all fair to him. About three years later, I got to spend an extended length of time with him and we didn’t mix well at all. I continued to recall a more naturally-conservative way of life with my grandparents, “natural” in that their lives were of another time and thus was mine for living with them and for having lived with them, heavily-influenced by it and those lives. His was covered in hair and filled with marijuana smoke. And as the world moved into the 1980s and halfway through, I found myself on the conservative side and no way pleased with his lifestyle choices. But there was a side of me that wasn’t satisfied with conservativism, a side that whenever it-
I dip my head. It’s difficult for me to find the right words for the struggle I’ve always felt going on within me, throughout most of my life. My heart knows what is right. The freedom of self-expression is right. The freedom to live without pain is right. The freedom to be who you were born to be is right. The freedom to live – to live – is right. Among scores of others I or anyone can name. This doesn’t mean I still wasn’t sensitive to lives lived in ways apart from what I was accustomed to… What it does mean and did mean is that it tore at something within me each time I noticed someone disallowed from living as he or she was- Just “was”. And that whenever I came across something or someone who would prevent that… It sickened me.
I embraced liberal beliefs. The right to an individual to choose his or her path, to make his or her own decisions about what to do with life and body. And I was enlightened to a family tale that some continue to dispute that when my grandmother was on her deathbed, she was provided with weed. To make her final days and nights just a little bit more comfortable. I began to support marijuana for medical use. But a lifetime of indoctrination still made it hard for me to accept its complete legalization. It took years for me to support it. I examined the effects it would have on society, on economy. And found that it promises more good than arm.
“In moderation,” I added to myself. When used for traditional purposes. Even though my intake of bacon could hardly be called “moderate” and has without a doubt caused me more harm than taking up pot ever could.
It’s not for me. In spite of all the suggestions I try it as an alternative to my epilepsy medication. In thinking about it and marijuana in general, I discovered that maybe the greatest reason for the rift between my father and me was because of- It. Which… Seems – is – ridiculous. Especially when, as the years have gone by, I’ve come to an understanding as to why the use of marijuana was so important to my dad. In spite of the fact that I knew there was a hole in his belly since I was almost ten.
Came by it by accident. By trying to rough-house with him.
I hadn’t known. Hadn’t known it was even there. Let alone how much it was hurting him.
I wouldn’t know that it was not only doing that but constantly eating away at him until years ahead. When I finally knew how it got there. And was old-enough to also know that as I got older, the more I knew would mean an equal amount of stuff I could never know.
There were years of dysfunction between the two of us to come. It couldn’t all be blamed on weed. There were things said both ways that cut worse than switchblades. And, in spite of my nascent liberal mind, there was a hatred of how he- Was. His lifestyle. Drugs and lies. Lies and lifestyle constructed around drugs. The obtaining of drugs. Which also wasn’t all weed. But there was also a man in there, somewhere. I wasn’t seeing him. I was still comparing what I did see to the myth that was visible only in my mind as a child. The myth of a man that never was. There was more to the truth of the man in the man I wasn’t seeing than in either the myth or the character he portrayed. A myth as well.
I’m still trying to let that man inside. At the same time, he struggles to get to know the man who is his son. A man who is no longer a little boy a thousand miles away or more. A boy who also was a myth. Who struggles with his own mythos. And the truth of himself.
Fathers’ Day was always a cringe-worthy day for me to get beyond. When my friends were celebrating their dads, I made excuses. Or went into detail. About why I abstained. It’s tough for a kid who’s always had their dad around to get it, to understand why you don’t. It’s worse to have to go through explaining it. I just ducked past it when I could. As an adult, it wasn’t as much of a problem. An obvious one, anyway. The day still came, remained celebrated. It’s never gone by as an empty date on the calendar. It’s always been- A loaded vacancy.
He’s been trying. Trying to be a presence. If across the Internet. I’ve been trying, too. I know it hurts him when he realizes the pain I’ve gone through in my life. He knows I’m sorry for the pain I drew upon him, unleashing anger and vengeance when they were all I had to give him. He didn’t get us a puppy, this Fathers’ Day. But we did manage to allow ourselves patience. Understanding. A presence in each other’s lives. That’s a lot. Considering where we’ve been.
I’m an ideological mess. Politically, spiritually, I’ve been back and forth across the spectrum and in between and even left to wonder if I shouldn’t just leap off that axis onto a second.
I follow my heart, then my head. Advice from the outside comes along in third. Probably a distant third. What others have to say about my beliefs- I take heed. But I don’t give them control of me. At best, I listen. I research. If there’s something to what I’m getting out of it, I’ll incorporate it into my belief system. Otherwise, keep trying or get the fuck off my doorstep.
If you want to know what I’m about, it can be summed up as follows: do what you do, let me do what I do, let your neighbors do their thing, be righteous to each other and to yourself, keep learning, never forget that you can’t possibly know it all, and share what you know with the world – but don’t force it. There’s more, obviously. It’s a summation. Anyway, it explains at its element how I could possibly allow myself to be both someone who supports-
Hah. I don’t even wanna fucking go there. I loathe being a disagreement factory. But, yes, there are hugely contrarian things about me, about my ideology. About how I take things on the personal level. Which isn’t about what I think you should do. These are things I embrace for me. Do your own thing. Just be responsible to yourself for your choices. Be responsible for those choices. Be answerable to yourself. This is beyond whichever deity you claim belief in. Or might. If you believe in any deity. Never do something or choose not to do it because a book or a god or a juju man or a bunch of chicken bones advices it. If it doesn’t come from your soul, it ain’t right. Be true to yourself. The rest follows.
Life’s a school. You’re always learning. Teaching yourself. Getting shit wrong, getting it right. Because of this, your outlook is bound to change over the length of it. The way you label things. How you accept things. Things you’ve hated become things you love. Things you love become things for which you have no feeling. And those things become whatever chance lays down. Based on chance. Based on consideration. Sometimes conflicting with how you think you should feel about them, based on who you thought you were. But we change as frequently as our ideology does in this school. Sometimes slower than our ideology, sometimes faster. But we’re never stagnant. Unless we’re dead.
“Fuck Lil’ Wayne.”
Reports flooded Twitter that he was dead. No – alive. Alive but almost dead. Alert and communicative. Dead. Alive.
“Fuck Lil’ Wayne.”
You know, it’s true – I don’t know one thing he sings. Or whatever he does. What does he do? I’m old; I don’t know these things. I stopped following music when Genesis broke up. Who is Lil’ Wayne? This week, I know he’s standing on the U.S. flag and having to explain that.
Who in the fuck is Lil’ Wayne?
Fuck Lil’ Wayne.