Only Crazy People Take Themselves Seriously
Mad Hatter: “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?”
“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
“No, I give up,” Alice replied. “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter.
We have show-and-tell at St Mel’s once in awhile, but nobody ever brings anybody. Some guy brought his grandfather once, who brought broken bits and pieces from World War Two, but none of it made any sense. When my turn came I brought my Uncle Gray. He wore a black top hat, a cape, and brought a bag full of boomerangs.
Uncle Gray told our science class he came to the show-and-tell because it was the birthday of the boomerang, the day it was invented. “What do you say about that?” he asked.
When nobody said anything, he said, “Many happy returns!”
All my uncles on my dad’s side of the family went to St. Joe’s High School on the east side, before it became St. Joe’s-Villa Angela, a coed school. The whole neighborhood had gone ghetto and the boy’s school and girl’s school both got so squeezed and small they had to paste them together. All my other uncles on my step mom’s side went to St. Mel’s. Some of them are bigwigs there now, although it doesn’t make any difference to me. Most of my friends know my Uncle Ted is on the Board of Trustees, but no one ever says anything about it.
Uncle Gray went to St. Mel’s. He’s one of my favorite adults. He’s not totally crazy, although he’s totally funny, and thankfully never pulls me aside to give me advice, which is unusual for an adult. Adults usually have a boat load of advice up their butts. Only crazy people take themselves seriously, but that’s adults for you. Uncle Gray’s the boomerang man. He holds the record for the world’s biggest boomerang collection. He makes them, sells them, and lives them. He beds down with them, too.
He sleeps with a boomerang in his bed.
Uncle Gray is over fifty years old, but he doesn’t suck, which is remarkable. Most adults are unreasonable because they don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to any of us right now. They’re outdated out-of-touch obsolete. They can be unreasonable, Little League dictators.
It definitely sucks to be forty-years-old. Why? Because you’re old, that’s why. You get up in the morning feeling just plain terrible. Thirty-years-old? It still kind of sucks. Most of the time you probably get up in the morning feeling terrible, too. You’re not young anymore. When you’re old you don’t have fun most of the time.
You could have fun, maybe, but only in certain ways that wouldn’t be all that great. When you’re a kid you can play with GI Joe’s for hours on end. You never think anything of it. Two years later you’re older and you don’t play with them anymore. When you find them again later on you’re, like, oh, MY GOD! I used to have so much fun with them.
Old people can’t have that kind of fun, the kind of fun that’s just all in. For them whatever they’re doing isn’t fun. They just want to get it done, whatever it is, like getting it done is life insurance. It’s not, but you can’t tell adults anything, at all. They NEVER listen.
It’s the same with video games. Most adults have never played video games. They’re still stuck in their old stuff, like reading newspapers and watching TV. That’s all done. It’s been destroyed by video games and online.
Adults don’t know how great video games are. They have no idea. They’re always saying we need to get up and do something. “Go outside, get some fresh air.” They think video games are stupid. If they are, then life is stupid. It’s not that video games are life itself, but they are definitely a good part of life. You can be the lamest kid stumbling down the hallways of St. Mel’s, but when you go home and get on a video game and are storming Brothers in Arms, like you purely own it, you can forget about regular life.
When you make friends online through video games, they’re exactly like real friendships. The only thing separating you from them is a computer screen. You can talk to people you don’t even know and they can be your homeboys. You never meet them in real life, but you are still good friends. I can be playing somebody who lives in Montana and be close buddies with them. For real.
You can talk to them on Skype. You hear what they sound like and see what they look like. You just don’t know each other in real life, that’s all, even though it’s still real. I like it that you can be friends with people you’ve never been in the same room with. For me it’s easy. For adults, they can’t, they’re so suspicious. They’re always looking over their shoulders.
There’s a barrier in the computer, which is the BARRIER, but it’s the doorway, too. Your video game friends don’t really know you. You can be nobody to everybody and still be friends with somebody, somebody who in daytime life might not give you the time of day. You can be somebody on the computer screen, not just a ghost, but a Ghostbuster. You become more than just a nobody.
Video games aren’t an easy thing to get into when you’re older. Old people don’t understand them, at all. They grew up fishing in the creek. They’re still thinking the jump kick is the trickiest combo to master. But, sometimes they’ll bite into the Jill sandwich. My Uncle Bruce bought an Xbox 360 last year. It was surprising, since the only game he ever had before that was Forza Motorsport 4. That’s it.
Uncle Bruce, Uncle Seth, and my grandfather are all deadset into cars. They work on old cars and grandpa sells them. Forza Motorsport is the only game grandpa’s actually good at. It’s the only game my uncles are good at, too, Anyone would think Uncle Seth might be better since he’s still a paperboy, even though he’s forty-years-old. It’s something they can relate to, and it’s simple, so they have a lot of fun with it.
When you’re fifty you’re old. You’re a geezer, too bad. It gets worse the older you get. God, yeah, it truly does. If you’re sixty-years-old I feel bad for you. You can’t have fun. There is no more fun, for sure. When old people are old they think anything new is bad news.
They watch a ton truckload of TV, but watching TV isn’t necessarily a good thing. I watch TV to see the playoffs, but other than that, no TV. You sit there and don’t do anything. It’s just a sweet wad of Chinese chewing gum for your eyes.
The older you get the less fun you’re going to have. It’s a fact. When you’re seventy you’re just watching life, like a fake-a-billy reality show, getting through it day by day. You’re there, breathing, but you’re not a part of it. YOUR DAY IS DONE. When you’re eighty you’re beyond old, of course, but I think you don’t even care anymore.
Some adults are happy, but not many. It’s less than half, I would imagine. It might even be less than that. When you’re young everyone’s happier because you can get over things easier. You just roll with the punches. Some can’t, of course, but most can. When you’re old you’re used to one thing, and when something else happens, well, then you’re stuck and sad.
When I get older I’m going to stay the same, which is on the go, on the spot, and beautiful. I’m going to try to get old as slowly as possible. When I’m thirty-years-old I’m going to have kids and play video games with them. When I’m forty-years-old I’ll be a parent, driving my kids to school, but I’ll still have fun. I’ll play games with them and let them do what they want.
I’ll have some ground rules, of course. They’ll have to play sports.
When I’m fifty and my kids are gone I’ll have a butt load of house parties in my giant bathroom. I’ll still be married, I think, and my wife will like the parties as much as I do. I don’t know what will happen when I’m sixty-years-old. Either I’ll keep going, have grandchildren, or die on the spot.
Making plans for the future is a load of bad dreams. A year ago I didn’t know I was going to St. Mel’s. I knew I was going to Lakewood High School, I thought. You shouldn’t make plans because they can change at a moment’s notice. It’s just like Blackie, my big black cat. He might be in the kitchen and thinks he’s going to take a plate of snacks when no one’s looking, but then I sneak attack him. He had plans until I snatched the snacks away.
But, Blackie’s a wily smart freeloader cat. He’s free of pains and plans most of the time, free of cares.
My whole day is always planned out, from the minute I wake up, Monday through Friday. We have our agenda for the day every day at St. Mel’s. I know everything I’m going to do and when I’m going to be doing it. I just know everything I’m going to be doing, because Monday through Friday there are a butt load of rules.
I stop at my locker the same time every day after the same period. I just do the stuff I have to do, the same thing every day, because that’s what people who are smart do. It’s like the killers who want to kill people. They are some of the dumbest people, but they are very smart, too. They have a plan and execute it. Some people walk into a store and rob it. They go in and start shooting, but they don’t have any idea of what’s going to happen.
Most of the time they get screwed over. But, other people have a plan for what they are doing. Those are the smart ones, especially those who want to kill other people for a reason. We have plans, and we execute them, but nobody notices anything. We have a set thing, our school periods, and we execute that because we have to.
Mr. Rote, my religion teacher, says if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Maybe he’s right about that. All the old people in the world made a crap load of plans when they were young and look what happened to them.
Uncle Gray is very funny and very smart, ridiculously smart, in fact. He’s smart in physics, which is why he’s good at throwing and catching boomerangs. He tosses boomerangs like nobody’s business. He has four world’s records in boomeranging and he owns thirty thousand boomerangs.
He’s the BOOMERANG MAN! Sis-boom-BAH!
Last year during Earth Day at Lakewood Park the first fifty kids who lined up at his booth got a free boomerang. Uncle Gray manufactures them and sells them. He gave away the backyard kind. They’re the kind that don’t go far out of hand and always ricochet back.
Uncle Gray was married, and re-married, and re-married some more. He was married to Morky, who was Korean and had a small head, and they had five kids. Two of them were twins, Lizzie and Ali. I called Lizzie the larger because her head was bigger than her mom’s and I called Ali whatever else. When Morky left and never came back all their five kids were under the age of five. Uncle Gray married somebody else right away, but they got divorced in no time. He tried again, but no luck for him. Now he goes from girlfriend to girlfriend.
They all stay around for a couple of years and then leave.
When I brought Uncle Gray to show-and-tell my science teacher Mr. Strappas showed us slides about how boomerangs work. We all went out to the football practice field and threw them around in the sky. Uncle Gray put on his old-fashioned black top hat. He threw his cape over his shoulder.
Everybody loved him, except for Mr. Rote.
“Why do you think Jesus isn’t coming back?” Uncle Gray asked Mr. Rote.
“He wasn’t nailed to a boomerang!” I think everyone wanted to laugh, but nobody did. I don’t know why Uncle Gray asked Mr. Rote that. It was like he wanted to get under his skin.
Before we went back to class Uncle Gray took something out of his duffel bag and threw it over the bleachers. We all waited, but nothing happened.
“What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back?” he asked.
“A stick,” said Mr. Strappas, walking back from the far side of the bleachers with a stick in his hand.
Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus