I am not a nice person. I once made someone cry and I enjoyed it. I am currently holding grudges that date back to the Reagan administration. When people ask me for spare change/a cup of coffee/a bus ticket to Kansas City/$2500 to pay their back rent, I just roll my eyes. It’s not that I don’t have compassion, I do. I just don’t give it away like some twink* with daddy issues at a bear bar**.
And I have tried to change. I have tried to be a different person. But the truth, for all of us I believe, is you will never not be the person you are. Like a recovering addict in a twelve-step program, the best I can hope is to resist temptation…because while for some, revenge may be a dish best served cold, for me, revenge is a dish best served always. And now that I’m a parent, I need to Dexter that way of thinking — by which I mean I need to control it, not stab it to death in a plastic-lined kill-room before dismembering it and throwing it in the ocean off the coast of Miami.
I need to lead by example. I need to toss my spare change into the cup. I need to forgive. I need to not make people cry, and if I do, I need to at least not enjoy it. Last night before bed Chris told us about a boy in his class who cries all the time. “An annoying cry-baby,” Chris called him. My first urge was to agree, to make a joke at the expense of the boy, but then I remembered back to a year ago. I remembered Chris, tears welling up in his eyes, desperate not to leave us, desperate not to go to school. I remembered picking him up at the end of the day and hearing from his teacher how he had cried all morning. An annoying cry-baby. My annoying cry-baby.
So instead of agreeing, instead of making a joke, I gently reminded Chris that he was once that boy and that maybe before he threw shade (as the kids say), he should consider that the boy was crying for a reason. Maybe he missed his parents. Maybe he just needed a friend. Maybe Chris could try being that friend.
Because at the end of the day the world has enough people like me in it: cynics who laugh at those chumps who tearfully post videos of three-legged dogs on Facebook before dumping ice on their heads and then declaring in a recycled meme how “they will not be defined by their past”. I might be a not nice person, but that doesn’t mean my kid has to be too.
* twink (n) – a young gay man, age 18-24, with little to no body hair
** bear bar (n) – a bar frequented by hirsute middle-aged gay men; Daddy types
The more you know…!