It was Christmas Eve of my ninth year when my dad told me.
I should’ve known something was up when he cheerily fixed my favorite meal of cinnamon toast without me begging. Instead, I naivley brushed it off figuring he’d just gotten blown or the DOW was up. What sent the alert level from orange to red was him allowing me to rest my peasant behind on his usually off limits throne of a leather recliner. At that point I knew he was buttering me up for something. Either he was looking to sodomize me, or borrow money. I considered both unacceptable.
Saying my dad’s chair was exceptional is like saying Martha Stewart’s bellowing troll voice makes me want to kill myself: it doesn’t quite do it justice. First off it was as massive as it was comfortable. It probably took the hides of five cows or maybe fifteen baby cows to cover, and all the clouds in heaven to stuff. My parents affectionately called it the “Big Chair,” which surprisingly isn’t a killer metaphor or critique of Americans living in excess at the fiscal and environmental expense of less developed nations. It’s just what a three year old would say when asked to describe that brown thing in front of them. For their creativity encore they named me Michael and my sister Sarah.
After I climbed onto the chair my dad knelt in front of me as if to propose and dropped the bomb he had been obviously stressing about for some time.
“Mike, Santa doesn’t exist.”
I had made a quip about Santa not forgetting I wanted the green razor scooter not the super lame blue one on our Christmas Eve walk to the market earlier that day. Apparently my dad felt it was time.
His face had a look of fearful uncertainty as he broke the news, probably hoping he hadn’t just jammed his son’s imagination and childish spirit into a trash compactor for good. He hadn’t. I knew there wasn’t a Santa Clause. I’m not fucking retarded.
Nonetheless, I played along sympathetic to how much planning my dad had put into this father-son coming of age moment. Also I was eager not to end my stay on the Big Chair prematurely. So with my best poker face I told him I appreciate his honesty, and that I honestly hope he kept the receipt if he bought me the blue razor instead of the green one.
After that sordid affair ended, my dad and I watched Rocky together, me still perched on the Big Chair. It was the first time I had seen it and I’m pretty sure I was bored as fuck. Now-a-days when dealing with boredom I excuse myself to the bathroom and catch a beat, or incessantly check my Facebook page for numbered red flags of self-esteem. Often both simultaneously.
But back then I didn’t know what masturbation was and internet was dial-up, so I was forced to actually watch the movie and interact with others around me, in this situation my dad.
I know. Iww.
After two hours of no fighting and even fewer boobs the climax was nearing. Rocky had a fight and limited time to prepare. So what did he do?
Exactly. He played his own theme song, hit the bench press, and ran about a thousand miles culminating in a triumphant stair climb and fist pump like he just found out his girlfriend’s pregnancy test was a false positive. The coolest part? He accomplished all of this in about six minutes. At least that’s what I figured when I was young. But Mike, I thought you said you weren’t a retard? Surely you knew the training was over a couple weeks.
Either way what resonated most was the speed in which he jolted through training to reach glory whether it was a day, a week, or a month. The movie was incredibly inspirational in challenging everyone to chase their dreams no matter what, a fantastically American message. What it glossed over was the necessary hard work involved.
No matter what your dream the constant training, repetition, struggle and sacrifice that are all requisites of being great are not always glorious. They don’t come with your own awesome fucking theme song, and culminate with you dancing outside a library arms raised. In fact the struggle doesn’t ever end, because when it does so does the glory.
I learned this lesson the erect penis way. I was cut from the varsity tennis, golf, and track teams. Why? I didn’t dedicate myself to one and gave everything I had. I practiced like a maniac for a week before each tryout all while playing triumphant music in my head and looking at myself from the third person. I tried to throw myself a montage.
The lesson is you don’t need a montage if you are working towards something you are truly passionate about. When you work at at something you care deeply about whether it’s music, art, or accounting it’s ceases to be work, even when there is struggle.
And if you are lucky enough to find a passion share it with others, it will give them confidence to pursue theirs. Keeping something that beautiful to yourself is masturbation. So lock yourself in a dark room and grab a flesh-light, or step into the light and grab a pretty girl.
“The only time I’m not sitting down is when I’m pooping. Toilets are fucking disgusting and my thighs are strong enough to allow me to hover over the seat instead of sitting on it. Even for upwards of fifteen minutes on chalupa Thursdays.”