This is the first in what I hope will be several attempts of mine to blog more often, maybe even build a platform for my writing partner Ashley Collins and I; we landed an agent for our book recently, but much more work need to be done! One step at a time. Once a week is better than no times a week, isn’t it? Also, perfect being the enemy of good, no more procrastinating.
You’ve heard this before; don’t be THAT guy. What does it mean to be THAT guy?
Generally speaking, it’s someone who upsets our social order. Depending on where you are from, this could mean different things to different cultures. For example, dropping a C-bomb in America is a very different thing from dropping one in England.
But here across the pond?
That guy who is the loudest moron at Thanksgiving dinner who won’t shut the f—k up about politics (Type-A personalities, this is you). That guy who texts during a movie. That guy who pisses on the toilet seat. And so on.
Today’s post, however, and in most other, “DBTG,” posts, I’m going to ask you to not be this guy because I’ve been this guy. When you turn 40 (at least when I did), you start looking back. It’s the half way point. You look back not to wish you could go back and change things (waste of time and energy), but to learn from your mistakes, and I made a lot.
In fact, the day before my son was born, I made a mistake for the final time…I hope.
I was THAT guy who when someone tells me that they like something, I have to open my big fat mouth and explain why it sucks, thus taking away their pleasure. The Joy Killer. That was me. It’s rude, it’s narcissistic, and it’s wrong.
Example: Last Christmas, my wife and my sister-in-law are in the living room watching, that’s right, “Love, Actually.”
“UGG!” I moan as I shuffle into the room, “This again? You know this movie has nothing to do with actual love, right?”
Both ladies said something along the lines of, “Piss off, Jordan,” and went back to watching Bill Nighy and his manager get drunk and watch porn. I walked away with my tail between my legs. The fact that this article exists doesn’t matter. I had no right to do that.
But, that wasn’t enough to convince me that I was wrong. The birth of my son did the trick.
Thursday morning, November 30th, my wife is in (what we thought was going to be) the delivery room experiencing the early stages of labor. Our wonderful Doula Yana by my wife’s side, my baby-mama was actually enjoying herself (the major contractions hadn’t started yet). Yana puts on the song, “Beautiful Boy, Darling Boy,” by John Lennon.
I hear this, and believe or not, kept my big fat trap shut at first. I know, hard to believe.
Julie and Yana are both hold black belts in empathy for the men in their lives, and both inquired of my discomfort.
“John Lennon abandoned his son, Julian.”
I have an allergic reaction to parents who abandon their children, and to step-parents who divide and conquer. My late father, after he and my mother split up, never stopped letting my brother and I know that we were number 1. Our parents are gone but our step-parents remain in our lives in a close and loving way. I have examples to follow. Other people aren’t so lucky.
No, Yoko Ono did not break up the Beatles (they broke themselves up just fine) but she did drive a wedge between John and his relatives, or at least it’s alleged.
Irrelevant. I just couldn’t let them enjoy the moment because FEELINGS.
However, with the guidance of both my wife and doula, I was to finally poke a hole in one of my demons. John Lennon was a very complicated man with a beautiful but tortured soul who apparently never knew his father. He was in a lot of pain. Through that different lens, I saw him in a different light. And then?
Three days later, after our son was born, my wife and I played, “Beautiful Boy,” with our son and we both burst into tears.
We’ve played it every day at least three times since. As I typed this, I just had a little dance with Jack singing the words to him; I have the lyrics almost memorized. It’s one of the most lovely songs I’ve ever heard, and it’s a perfect representation of how my wife and I feel about our little boy.
I am grateful for Julie and Yana who set me straight and helped me wake up a little bit. You are entitled to your feelings. You are not, however, morally entitled to express them in any way you see fit. Other people matter. It is your obligation to consider their feelings. Not be ruled by them, of course, but at least consider them. When it comes to enjoying art, I don’t care if it’s the Pussycat Dolls, let people have their pleasures. Keep your negativity to yourself.
Hemingway defined courage as grace under pressure. When you look back at all of your historical heroes, did they complain and make it all about them? No, they had problems and they worked to either accept them, or solve them. Like adults. If they can do that, then you can put up with a silly British rom-com that actually has some charm in spite of its flaws, let alone a sublime song about a father’s love for his son.
Please, don’t be that guy. I will never be that guy again. Until then, Enjoy this wonderful song that gives, “Imagine,” a run for it’s money in terms of sheer musical bliss.