Saturday, July 24, 2010

Open Mind

Other than stuff like 'How are you?' and 'Would you like fries with that?', have you got any idea what question you've been asked more than any other? Then kind of question that requires more than just decision making. For me, the question I've been asked the most throughout my adult life is - why didn't you have children?
Depending on who I'm talking to I have a number of answers: too selfish; too expensive; wouldn't want to unleash another version of me on the world and God help us if it had been a girl; I'd get imprisoned on infanticide charges. I've even resorted to saying that I just hate the little fuckers - which isn't strictly true and any of my closest friends will sneer at that statement as both improbable or a downright lie. But sometimes it works, especially when I get someone obstinate, the kind who start to preach to me about making a massive mistake in my life.
The thing was, I always wanted at least 5 children; but by the time I got married and witnessed my brothers' struggle with their kids, the idea was rapidly being replaced by the desire to keep pets. The wife might have liked the idea of children at some point in her life, but I'm betting that was before she met me (not that I'm suggesting that the sight of me put her off kids for life, or anything), possibly even before she was capable of having them.
Now we're in our 40s, the question seems to have reared its ugly head yet again and none more so than last week when I excused myself from a discussion about births, cesarean sections, labour pains and various other unpleasant symptoms associated with carrying a small human around in one's belly. I was asked the question. I gave the what I felt was the most appropriate answer for that moment and was told that I was an idiot - not bad coming from an 18-year-old girl with a dodgy past (present and probable future).
The truth is that had I had kids I would probably have made a good father; but I didn't want them. If I'd have wanted them then I would either have persuaded the wife or divorced her for someone who wanted to ping them out at a rate of knots*. I might have missed out on all the joys of being a dad, but I've also spared myself the continuous heartbreak, anguish and worry that comes along with it. I chose to spend my life the way I wanted to live it and I can honestly say, sitting here at this moment in my life, that I have zero regrets. It really hasn't bothered me. If it had bothered me, I wouldn't have suggested having a vasectomy for one of my wife's 40th birthday presents. More so, I wouldn't have had it done, had I not been 100% sure it was what I wanted to do (frankly, the idea of a strange man fiddling with my scrotum does not have the same effect on me as it does some of my friends and its only something I'd do if I was adamant or under severe duress).

*Actually that's a lie. I would never have divorced her.

I could bang on for several hundred reasons why I didn't want kids, but there's this saying about protesting too much and frankly you can give some people any incentive whatsoever to pick holes in your alibi...

***

Comic creators have been in the news again recently - the deaths of Harvey Pekar and Al Williamson; a recent retrospective appreciation by Jonathon Ross of Jim Steranko and something else in the Guardian that, I'm have to say, didn't tickle any thing enough to make me even want to read it. In fact, I didn't read the Steranko piece (despite having met the once great man), I skimmed the Pekar obit and read the Williamson one, because I was a bit of a fan of Alex Raymond's protege (especially, for some unknown reason, his work with Brett Blevins).

***

Glutton for Punishment Award of the Week!

Despite an almost pathological hate for the series; I decided to sit and read Stephen King's The Dark Tower from start to finish (if, indeed it is finished). So, quietly, without the wife finding out, I started by reading The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three. I opted for the revised version of the first book, which I had, for some strange reason, bought.
It's been a weird ride so far and one that has been really enjoyable, up to a point. I have in the back of my mind the knowledge that at some point King really jumps the shark, and I'm actually just about at that point. However, I'm trying to combat this feeling with the help of the theory that very little actually changed in the actual story of the Dark Tower; it was just King chose to add certain elements to the story that meant having to rewrite earlier editions. I still believe that ultimately the world of the Dark Tower was fundamentally changed from what it was originally designed/intended to be; but as a friend pointed out, 'the world wasn't the story'.
My friend, a real bona fide nerd, also likes to point out that at several points in the 7 book story, the past is changed, meaning subtle alterations to reality in the then present happen; so any ideas we might have formed at first weren't necessarily important to the overall journey.
I hate it when nerds get philosophical.

***

Speaking of nerds; it's time to be Mr Generalisation again. I have this theory. If you are male and between the ages of 18 and about 40 and you possess a goatee or facial hair in the guise of the kind sported by Ricky Gervais in his The Office days, then there is about a 90% chance that you are a nerd of some nature. Whether its D&D, films, porn, comics, Warhammer, computers, on-line gaming or whatever you're into, I'm betting if you can grow facial hair, you've got a goatee.

Case in point: I'm sitting in the pub last week and there are a group of guys talking; 3 of them are sporting goatees. I couldn't help but hear that they were discussing the TV series Lost and two of them, both with facial hair, were getting very heated about the philosophical ramifications, the spiritual simile and the hidden meanings and messages. I also noticed that they were all drinking lager...
Stop. It. Now!

***

I was in a community centre last week having a meeting with some old people and I noticed, in the corner, some chairs. Nothing unusual there, except on one of the chairs was a sheet of paper saying: This Chair Is For Sitting On Only!

Huh?

***

I got a circular through from my bank - the Co-op. In it was the great strap line of: Mr Hall, there's so much to love about our home insurance.

Love? Strange choice of word. Can I really see myself saying, "I'm in love at the prospect of having to pay out money every month to ensure my house is covered in the event of a burglary, house fire, or some other insurance disaster"?

Love and insurance are just two things that don't really go together; like Marmite and vanilla ice cream...

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