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Monday, March 15, 1999
By Paul Ford
A little lecture from the author of such fine works as "Off the Sofa"
A didactic entry, written late. Ftrain news time is 3:18 AM.
Grandpa took me on his knee and said: "You think you have it rough, kid? I remember trying to scrounge berries with a fucking glacier bearing down on me, while trying to avoid getting raped by horny Neanderthals hungry to suck my brain out of its casing. And I was barely 4 feet tall."
I'm glad I have this stupid, healthy, simple, cushy life. I can't pretend it means a thing, but it's entertaining. It's good to get a little amusement, cash in the pocket, to participate in the mercantile frenzy. I've been receiving some criticism for these choices from a few people, including myself, subtle and not-so-subtle hints that I should be working a dumb job, writing on scraps of paper, and feeling the deep loneliness of the midnight soul. Some friends and strangers want me to suffer a little more, or they feel they've suffered more themselves, and are annoyed at my comfort. They're sure that I don't know what they know, that I can't touch their depth.
I dig their fuss. Still, some of the funniest, most charming people I know are: a guy who was orphaned when his father shot his mother. A girl whose father raped her with such violent intensity that she's brain damaged, no way of knowing what she's lost. A full bevy of suicides and people who've lived in wards. A couple men who shot or stabbed their abusive fathers.
Are they authentic enough for you? Have they paid their dues? Sure, pain is real, but you can't ignore joy just because you're feeling cynical, or in High School.
You and me, we're a fluid exchange. One path out of trillions. You can make up a whole religion to avoid the sperm entering the egg, all sorts of elaborate policies like "deserve" and "sellout." But the truth remains that your father had an erection, your mom was slippery and wet, and from that quick touch, bifurcating endlessly, you rushed through history: cell, trilobite, alligator, cat, monkey, and then--zam! A breath of fresh air and a whack on the ass. No deserving there, just coincidence.
And then you get to be a victim, and write about that whack until your ears pop from your elevated self-image. But--
It would be nice to be special and chosen, but we're not. We're a species with a highly evolved adaptability and enough cerebral complexity to handle tools. No deserving, or victimhood, in that (admittedly incomplete) definition. I challenge you to find me the line in your double helix with those words in it.
The more you believe in righteousness and divine right, the longer you'll wait for the men in orange robes to knock at your door and tell you you're chosen. Or the publishers, or the movie producers, or the lawyers with all the money from your dead uncle. More people would rather install a new doorbell and sit on the sofa than actually admit they're not that big a deal and get to work. Including me.