Thursday, February 27, 2014

Family's End

…kids, come in, have a seat.

Your mom and I have something very important that we need to tell you, though we know you might not want to hear it.

The two of us will be separating, and I’ll be moving out. I know this comes as a shock to you, but trust us, we’ve done everything in our power to keep this marriage alive, but it’s just not working out and we’ve grown to realize that it never will, and so it would be for the best that we no longer live together.

I know this must come as a shock to the two of you, but I want to make this perfectly clear: This does not mean that I love your mother any less. I love her just as much in this moment as I did the day I first proposed.

I have always loved her.

I probably always will.

It’s just….

It’s you kids. You guys are the worst.

When your mom first became pregnant, I was naturally concerned. I’d never considered myself the fatherly type, didn’t even know if I wanted kids, but all our friends who had their own assured me that, once you were born, I’d grow into the role. They told me that the moment I held my newborn child my whole world would change and a wave of love and connection to you would come over me, washing away any doubts I might have regarding parenthood.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

When I first held you, Timmy, I felt nothing but resentment at the opportunities lost, the hopes and dreams that, saddled with a new, squalling little monster that I was expected to be responsible for, I would now never be able to pursue.

I resented you so deeply, Timmy. So, so very deeply.

Please don’t hold that against me. After all, I sacrificed eight years of my life for a person for whom I felt nothing, gave up any interests I might have had, just to make sure you didn’t die during that period where you were utterly worthless on every objective level. In exchange for all I gave up, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask that you cut me a little slack.

Sarah, I wasn’t nearly as resentful when you were born a year later, but part of that is just that, for the second child, I’d already adjusted my ambitions downward. Yes, I’d have liked to not have a second child, but really after the first the damage is basically done.

Plus, I just like you better than Timmy. Timmy is just the worst.

Sorry Timmy, but let’s face it, you are.

Still, Sarah, don’t take the fact that I resented you less than Timmy to mean that I felt any meaningful connection to you on any level, because I would hate to accidentally imply that. It would be intellectually dishonest of me to do so and I pride myself on my intellectual honesty.

Or did, at least, before childrearing robbed me of any lingering sense of self that I might claim pride in.

So no, for the record, I’ve never felt any warmth or love toward you either, though I admit I liked you better than Timmy. I don’t know why I didn’t, you’re a perfectly acceptable kid and deserve appropriate amounts of parental fondness, I just don’t feel like we ever connected.

Maybe it’s me.

Maybe it’s my fault for feeling that love should be earned.

Maybe I expected too much from you. From both of you.

I expected you to be more… loveable? I guess?

I’m sure the fault is mine, most parents do manage to love their kids, or at least to fake it believably enough that nobody questions that they do. I just don’t have it in me. I’m too honest for my own good, too honest with myself and, now, too honest with you.

Still, poor of spirit is the man who shuns knowledge of himself. I’m an awful father, I feel nothing for either of you, and it would be unfair to all of us were I to continue wasting my time on this whole project. You deserve better, and I deserve much, much better.

Anyway, I’m leaving. Your mother has sole custody, since she seems genuinely fond of the two of you, and I doubt I’ll be visiting. I mean, I have visitation rights, I just can’t imagine any reason why I’d want to. I wish you both the best of luck in all your future endeavors, and I hope that this little incident doesn’t scar you emotionally. I may not love either of you, but you’re both good kids, well, mostly you Sarah, and though I have no interest in raising you and watching you grow, I do sincerely hope that the two of you grow up into the fully realized, interesting human beings that you aren’t right now. You do deserve that, everyone does, and though I have no intention of supporting you, either emotionally or, more importantly, financially, I do wish you all the best.. Have the happy life you deserve, kids.

Or don’t.

I’m not the boss of you.

And to be honest, it would take a team of German scientists and the worlds most powerful electron microscope to determine how little I care what you do one way or the other….

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Weekly Prompt Story: Formula

A Formula for a Successful Life
By Christopher Munroe

One: Figure out who you are and what you want from this world, then do things that help you toward that.

Two: Enjoy your body, whatever its shape, size or type. It’s yours, you own it, and it serves you. It’s not enough to love your body, use it every day and appreciate it.

Three: With regard to your mind, see point two.

Four: Regret what you’ve done when necessary, but never regret who you are for even a moment.

…this advice is good.

I’m still working on following it.

I’m working on me.

It’s a process.

I’ll get there…

Friday, February 21, 2014

...on Family.

Please don’t tell me about the importance of family. Family is not important.

Don’t get me wrong, family is obviously important, it’s perhaps the most important thing that could possibly exist.

I’m just saying: No, it’s not.

Allow me to explain.

I have a brother a year younger than me, he lives somewhere in this very city, has for years. I don’t know where in this city he lives, there’s no way I could find out if I wanted to, which by the way I don’t.

I’ve not spoken to him in nearly twenty years, you see.

And my life is fuller and richer for his welcome absence.

My other brother I do speak to, if rarely. He’s in the hospital a lot, but when he’s out and up to taking calls I do try to find the time.

Though I’m shit at finding the time.

My Mom, on the other hand, is perfectly healthy, and loves me unconditionally. She’d love to talk to me, though’ she rarely does.

Nothing to do with her. I mean to call.

It’s just, like I said, I’m shit at finding the time.

Which, again, fine.

That’s who I am.

I feel guilty about it, it’s a part of me I’d like to change, but I can live with that.

Because I have people here, around me, in the here and now, with whom I’m close, or at least with whom I can delude myself on a day to day basis that I’m close.

People with whom I can share my life, my triumphs and heartaches, who will bail me out should I stumble or celebrate with me should I soar, people who can go months without seeing me and then, when I’m at my lowest, weakest ebb, come out of the woodwork to remind me that yes, I am loved much more than I could possibly imagine.

I have people, here and now, who I have chosen, freely.

These people are my family. Some closer to me, some farther, but all chosen by me.

I have looked at these people, judged them, and made the conscious decision to say: Yes, you are the people with whom I have decided to spend my time. You are my real family.

Because it’s only natural that the people you’ve grown to know and love and chosen freely, without coercion or obligation of any kind, would be closer to you than the people with whom you share origin in a genetically similar spurt of cum.

Those with whom you spend your time are your family, your true family, and family is the most important thing.

While, conversely, your biological “family” shouldn’t matter at all.

Love them, if you do. That’s your right. Just look at them first, figure out who they are, judge them and find them worthy before doing so.

Because to not do so?

To love somebody thoughtlessly?

Just because they’re family?

Well, that disrespects their agency as human beings…

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weekly Prompt Story: Coward

Diary of a Mad Man
By Christopher Munroe

I work hard, I play hard.

Except when I’m too tired to play hard.

Then, I head home and pour myself three fingers of scotch. Single-malt, twelve-year or older, this is the bare minimum.

Scotch acquired, the next step’s an album from the fifties. I’d love vinyl, but I don’t have that budget, so my ipod and dock has to do.

Sinatra, Holiday, Coward, Fitzgerald, there are a number I alternate between depending on my mood, but the point is setting atmosphere.

Because I am too tired to play.

And sometimes a man needs a more civilized way to relax…

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

…and then came Valentine’s Day, and across the land a certain type of couple rejoiced.

Specifically: Loveless couples.

The type of couple who can’t be bothered to take the few seconds thought and few minutes effort required to tell the person they most care about that yes, they do still care the other three hundred sixty four days of the year. The type who put it off until the one appointed day and try to make up for a year of neglect and disinterest with one grand, misguided gesture.

The type of couple who, in the last dying years of what once was a beautiful and vibrant relationship, can only bring themselves to make the sort of token effort at romance that seems to come naturally to those who’ve forgotten that love is a beautiful, living thing, one that needs to be tended and nurtured every day.

You touch your partner’s body every day.

You tell her she’s beautiful.

You tell her you’re happy to be with her, and that you’re lucky and grateful to have her.




Or, if you can’t be bothered to do that, and many couples can’t, you buy some shitty chocolate and make a reservation at a middlebrow family restaurant.

Some couples convince themselves that this is what love is, that what they have is not a pale imitation of the real thing, an unfunny joke at the expense of their lifetime of loneliness even in the midst of what they call “Love”.

And those fuckers love Valentine’s Day.

For the record, yes, this has always been my position on the holiday, regardless of whether I’m in a relationship or not.

My own romantic life does not affect my opinion of the holiday one iota, nor should it.

When I am in love, I am in love and love is the center of my world. When I am not, I am not and it is not.

And either way, I have nothing but contempt for the whole concept of Valentine’s Day.

I wait tables, you see.

And I see them there, those couples. Sitting, impatient, each in turn thinking that their unique, perfect love is more unique, more perfect, than the love of the people sitting around them, and that it entitles them to special treatment.

Their unique, perfect love, which they could not be bothered to celebrate yesterday. And will not tomorrow. Or any other day of the year.

So unique that they have to celebrate out among the millions of other couples celebrating in the exact same, equally unique way.

So perfect that their food being delayed ten minutes due to the volume of food the kitchen has to cook might spoil it forever.

Those couples, you know the ones. You’ve seen them, though if you’re lucky not closely.

I will spend the day smiling, and nodding, and helping them celebrate love. Because that is what I do, and because I am a professional person.

So yes, happy Valentine’s Day if you must.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Weekly Prompt Story: Soon

My Plan
By Christopher Munroe

Soon a day will come where advances in medical science and reliable human cloning will mean that the human body can be replaced.

And this, in turn, will lead to a world in which we no longer worry about the ravages of time. Our minds, the core of who we are, will survive even in those cases where our bodies cannot.

At least, I hope it will.

Because I smoke too much, drink too much and get far too little sleep.

I live hard, dude.

And if I can’t replace my body as it wears out, I’m in serious trouble….

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Me I've Made My Peace With

I am nothing.

A cipher.

An empty suit.

A thing of sound and fury, carefully calculated to signify nothing, calibrated to allow the viewer to read whatever he or she may want into me, without ever staking out any meaningful position of my own.

In this way I’m never held accountable.

In this way, I’m utterly forgotten the moment I step out of the room.

I try so desperately hard to be liked by everyone I might meet that I never manage to matter to anyone I might meet.

However much they might like me while I’m there.

And whilst this fact does kill me, I understand that it’s nobody’s fault but my own.

Because I am the captain of my ship, the master of my destiny, and if I’m too fucking cowardly to stand up and say “I’m real, I’m a real fucking person, and I matter too!” then who am I to complain when nobody knows it.

They never feel they need to know it, because I never bother to explain it properly to them.

I shouldn’t need to, if I’m a real person with real feelings to which attention must be paid, people should be able to figure it out on their own.

However, it’s nobody’s fault but mine that I deliberately cultivate an image wherein I’m no such person.

Because if every moment of my life, every action, every word, is an artfully designed construct, and every emotional beat I send out into the world, every feeling that I feel when I know that eyes are upon me, every joke and laugh, every moment of rage, yes, even my naked, hopeless, impotently furious moments of self-loathing, here upon the stage, are a put on, designed for the benefit of those who I know are watching, then it’s natural that they might think there’s nothing more to me than that.

An artful fiction, to be enjoyed and then safely forgotten.

Nothing more than a collection of witticisms and mannerisms, all gloss on the surface, surrounding a core that, at the end of the day, is found to be ultimately, inarguably empty.

But in spite of this, don’t worry. You’ll like me.

Because my greatest weakness is also my greatest strength.

And the fact that I am, on a fundamental level, incapable of connecting meaningfully with another human being means that, on the shallowest of levels, I connect with literally everyone.

And my desperate, pathetic need to be liked means that, in the short enough term, I am very likable.

And, at the end of the day, I’m so fucking fun at a bar that it would make you cry…

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Weekly Prompt Story: Church

The Funeral
By Christopher Munroe

Walks beside me.

Walks on by.

Gets me to the church on time.

Or, at least, used to.

Now I’m terrified, I’m foggy, and my trust in God and man is strained nearly to the breaking point.

As the box is lowered into the ground, I can barely make out the words as they’re spoken, they echo and distort somewhere between my ears and my brain.

Gone in a moment, but never forgotten. The lessons learned and time spent were never wasted, the memories will never be anything less than cherished.

A modern love.

A lifetime.

Not nearly long enough.