A letter from a father to his unborn son. Not soppy in any way, probably the father needs a little psychological help. Based on me and my gf, although there is no way in hell the powers that be would let us procreate. We are not sad about this.
Hello Flenky! (We call you Flenky, it’s your nickname, we haven’t picked your actual name yet)
I know this is a little probably a little strange. Maybe unsettling even. A letter from your Dad, who is probably asleep in his slippers in the living room, in front of the football. Why has he written you a letter from before you are born? Why are you just reading it now? Why are Mullets back in fashion? They are not when I’m writing this letter, but I’m making a guess what might be in vogue by the time you read it, everything comes back in the end Flenky, sadly even the Mullet. Although probably not the phrasein vogue. I think that’s gone for good.
Yes it is a little weird. I’ll concede you that. But like anyone that does something a little weird, I have my reasons and they are best left unquestioned.
Have you heard about the 27 club Flenky? I am 27. Many other people have also been 27. Everyone older than 26 in fact, if I may make a bold assumption - has been 27. Sometimes though, people enter 27 but from it they do not exit.Ever. They die Flenky. Many famous people have died at 27 - Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Robert Johnson. Now that I’ve written those I’m spotting also a J connection there. Good news on me then, not a J in sight in my name. Nor am I musician. But that’s not really the point...
I’ve been feeling the most curious feeling lately, well, in the last month or two, and it’s been very unpleasant and has lead to me wanting to write you this letter and get some things written down, just in case something happens to me and I also do not exit 27 and never have the chance to tell you these things in person.
We have a word for when you fall into a pit of despair,depression. When the mere act of cleaning your teeth feel s like the scaling of a difficult mountain face. We know about these feelings. They are understood. There are drop-in centers, support groups, freephone numbers. What I have is not depression, it’s the opposite. It’s a building fear that no-one deserves to be this happy, that someone somewhere is going to come along and snatch it away. “Mr Fletcher, there’s been an administrative error. You should indeed not have all this happiness. Right now I’m going to have to repossess your bank account, oh and your legs. I’ll take just the left one now. I haven’t brought the car with me you see, they are probably heavy, I’ll come back from the right one next week.”
It’s a weird feeling that the closer you get to the life you want, the more time you spend worrying that’s it’s about to get taken away from you. Someone, somewhere is going to rob you of it. If not the employees of a sadistic government, then that man you just passed on the stairs, him, it’ll be him with those eyes, those shifty eyes. Of course! How did you not see it before, he’s going to break into the apartment while you sleep and chop you in little pieces with his axe. There’ll be blood so much blood splashing, smearing all over the ceiling. He’ll do things to do, to your corpse. Blood. So much blood. That’ll be it. Game Over.
Run, run from this man! Yes, run, you’re getting away! Run for all that you care for, run for your hopes and dreams and….oh, stop! You’ve run too far, watch out you’re in the road. Bus! Big red tourist bus, stop! It’s going to run you over, it’ll make lumpy porridge from your young and apologetic flesh. Not now God, just give me a little longer. I have so much to give. It’ll pop you like a grape all over the street where you live. The street where you would push your little Flenky in his pram in just a few months. Where you would teach him to play football. Where you would look suspiciously at all the other children he made friends with.
Not good enough. Not even close to being good enough. The heir to all you promise.
So you dive, dive back to the pavement! You land in a heap on the side of the road and it’s over. The Bus whooshes past. Breathing so deeply, at any moment your chest about to implode under the weight of your lungs as they suck and suck to try and provide you air, enough air to calm you down. You’re being irrational. No-one is trying to kill you. Sitting here, a big sobbing mess of a man. Aso calledman. A man not fit for the title of man. Father. Provider. Crying on the side of the road for no good reason.
But wait, a large dog is coming. More of a wolf. No, it’s a Yeti. You can’t see it. It’s behind you. It smells you. It likes you. It will eat your face. It will eat it before you have time to even notice. Then you’re pretty man face will be gone and you’ll bleed, you’ll bleed out right there on the pavement. Your blood running down into the drain and you’ll live just long enough to see the white of the Yeti’s teeth as it munches down on your cheek, thinking how you taste like Chicken. You will not see the face of your son. You will not meet his bride. Meet his children. You will not financially destitute yourself so that he may have the correctly branded trainers that will ensure his social acceptance at high school. You will get none of this because you deserve none of this……
Sorry Flenky, got a bit carried away there. Hopefully you won’t read this letter until you’re at least 43 or those last paragraphs might lead to some psychological scarring. I’ve been working some things out and those fears, sick paranoid delusions, they are how I’ve been feeling the past months since we got the news of your mere existence. Future existence. Depending on how you look at it.
I didn’t have these fears before, even though I’ve had a pretty cushy life for years now. I’ve been happy, very happy. Guilt free happiness. I didn’t have this fear until you came along….
That was a surprise in its self, not only that you were woefully unplanned (I’ll tell you that story later) but that I never really felt that I wanted children. Maybe one day, maybe as an abstract notion. One that could be agreed to, but not really tested. Like saying you want to run a Marathon or try Dog meat.
I always thought, yeah sure, one day, maybe when I was an old man and I could take a young wife, still full of energy, she’d gladly raise you and she’d wheel me out at dinner times and I’d regal you with poignant stories illustrating how everything was better in my day, even though we barely had more than mud to play with and we were very happy with that mud, thank you very much. Considered ourselves lucky. But beyond fantasies like this, I had no real desires to procreate and release upon an already overburden world - a miniature me. But then we got the news and well, I don’t know if it was biology’s dirty tricks. Damn hormones. Or just acceptance. Calm acceptance .yeah why not, let’s give it ago. Should be fun. A new hobby.
Plus I’ve always known that some genes really should be carried on. Mine for example. Others really shouldn’t and here I’m talking mainly, aboutyour mums.
Aside from the fact she’s almost totally blind, but not quite blind enough to get any compensating ancillary skills. She’s also crippled with hilariously bad spatial awareness, groping around angry and lost like a hungover Mole in a washing machine attempting to find the Post Office. But it’s not only that, her cake is also iced with deep, deep paranoia, skepticism and no faith in humanity as a whole. That’s an entertaining cocktail of a personality, for an occasional dinner party, or a chapter in a psychology textbook, but it does shout very loudlyCLONE ME! MAKE AN ARMY OF ME!
An Annett army, groping around bruising themselves and spilling coffee and breaking things and harbouring deep, deep suspicion of everyone. At least to me it doesn’t. I think also your mum has accepted this, she’s been violently opposed to having children ever since we met, violently opposed to children in general really we’ve had some embarrassing and near litigious situations when she’s tried to run them down in her car, on her bike, under her foot muttering about “stupid children” and “just another tool for the oppression of women”.
Allowing your Mum to procreate is really like slapping Darwin square in the face.
Usually people like your Mother are made this way somehow, warped by conflict or the trauma they’ve had to endure. I think in the case of your mother she was just born this way, literally. Birth robbed her of the safety and tranquility of the womb and she's been pissed about it and deeply suspicious of all humanity ever since.
If babies could talk and had the linguistic capabilities of an adult, which I'll agree takes some imaginative leapfrogging - this would have been her at the hospital after her birth, talking to your Grandmother:
“What do you want, money? I don't have any money, I'm newborn and I guess I have you to thank for that don't I?
Seriously why are you being so nice to me?Unconditional loveyou say? Even if I do this (kick). Or this (punch). Or make this annoying lalalallalalallaalla sound repeatedly
ha, still love me?
PUT ME BACK IN! Put me back in, god damn it!”
I on the other hand, was fortunate enough to grow up in a happy home. Largely uneventful, but threatening to literally burst at any moment under the collective weight of its love, support, nurturing and picture postcard perfectness. So naturally, my world view reflects that. I am the original optimist.Captain Optimism – world positivity leader.
I thought about what to do with this letter now that I have started it. Should it be an opportunity to condense down all my worldly wisdom and force feed you it, here, in letter form, in case I really do join the 27 club? I don’t know. Maybe. Probably not. My parents were very good at letting us figure stuff out for ourselves. They would actually say that to me when I asked them for advice “well, I’m not sure I’m the expert, just do what you think is best and if it all goes wrong there’s always a room for you here”. I think that’s pretty good parenting. I think you’ll like your Grandparents. Because of their hands off approach I had the joy of discovering the joy of discovering. If you get me. Do you get me? Good. So I’m not sure if I should try to spout too much flawed wisdom at you.
I’m thinking back to my childhood and early adolescence. Even being part of a family that pulsed with love.Smothered us in it. I didn’t enjoy being a kid. Didn’t enjoy going to school. Passionately detested High School (everyone does, it’s four years of public shaming, but it does builds character and teaches a lot of important less about how unfair the world is). Looking back, there is only really one piece of advice I’d like to give you –There is no real life.No reality.
Let me give a little flesh to that bone of truth by telling you a story. This story involves my University room-mate Nick. Nick was an affable chap. He’s the sort of person who upon meeting, you would like and say something or other about him “seeming like an affable chap”. There wasn’t that much more to him. But he was nice enough I guess. He didn’t cause problems. He was rather flat line really.Steady. If you liked him today you’d like him next Tuesday. No more. No less. Same as today. This story involves him in New York some years before the day in which he first told me this story. He told me this story many times. He had a habit of repeating his stories. This was his favourite.
So Nick is in New York. It’s a Tuesday. Or it might have been. I’m just putting that in to set the scene.Imagine it’s Tuesday. It’s a bright and pleasant day. The sort of pleasant day in which one exits their home deliberately, to have its pleasantness bask down upon their heads and to say things like “oh isn’t this pleasant”. Nick was taking part in an organized tour of the USA. They would move from city to city, national park, tall building, large monument, play around, get drunk, take some photos. You get the idea. On this day he was with four or five friends from the tour, none of which he knew prior to the tour. They were in a park. It was that kind of weather. That kind of day. Possibly a Tuesday. In this park they enjoyed the weather, enjoyed looking at the people in a City that was not their city. Enjoyed looking particularly, and definitely more closely, at women from the city that was not their city. They looked even even more closer at the women from the city that was not the city who were sunbathing in bikinis, for a reason you’ll understand when you get older. You’ll do the same thing most likely. Although should you find yourself instead drawn to looking at the men, know that’s also cool by me. Whatever tickles your donkey. Back to the story….
Nick and his friends are walking along and joking about what happened last night, which was that one of his new tour friends drank too much intoxicating liquor and vomited into one of those large chest wheelybins they have in alleys by clubs in America. He was nearly arrested by the Police for being drunk and disorderly, but the tour leader managed to talk them round and explained he was a tourist, a foreigner, he’d gone a little wild in a big city, no big deal officer. I’ll make sure he gets home to bed.
As they laughed and joked about this story in the park, up ahead towards its edge were several people sitting on little stools and offering services. You could get a caricature of yourself drawn. This is when you pay a man to draw a picture highlighting your physical flaws. I’m not sure why it’s fun. You could also have your fortune told. I know this because it happened to my friend Nick. He was walking by the fortune teller and had no interest in having his fortune told because he did not believe in the telling of fortunes by men in parks. Did not believe in the telling of fortunes by men or women anywhere really.Hokum. So he intended to walk right by, but the fortune teller shouted at him “hey, hey you, come here a second”.
Nick probably said to his friends “oh here we go”. But there was a look of earnest seriousness of the fortune tellers face and so he took a few steps closer.
“You, wow, you are…..I know this is going to sound silly. But you are an angel. I have a sense for this. No really. There are some people who have a certain something.A certain something. They are not like other people. I think there are maybe twenty or so people in the world like this. Fallen angels who walk among us. You are one of these people. You will succeed at everything you do and you will make it look easy”
I know all this, because Nick told me exactly what he said. It was a rendition that was memorized. He did not make it up off the cuff in the act of telling it to me. It was memorized. Word for word. I memorized it as well. That part was interesting huh? I’m not done yet, now the interesting part happens and it’s when Nick says
“I tried to give him some money but he wouldn’t take it. Said he was honoured to have met me. My friends they paid for a reading from him, but it was just normal stuff you know, you will have two kids, three wives etc etc. They were not fallen angels like me”
When Nick repeated the story, he almost burst with pride, emotional from the memory, the day he learnt he was a fallen angel. One of only twenty.
Did you spot the con Flenky? It was in this line “My friends, they paid for a reading from him”. Being a natural born capitalist, operating some kind of immoral racket since I was a kid, it seemed fairly obvious to me. A shitter can spot a shitter.
Nick had been victim to the “first guy that comes along in a group is a fallen angel scam”.
Flatter him. Then refuse to take money from him. Let your integrity as a Fortune Teller shine through. Touch his soul. All his friends will want to know if they are fallen angels as well. Everyone wants to be a fallen angel right? Good scam. Good racket. Smart Fortune Teller. Easy money. I bet he saw a surprisingly high percentage of the world’s twenty fallen angels most days in that park. Funny that.
Had Nick spotted this? Oh boy, it was the Elephant in his room for sure, but Nick saw only what he wanted to see. People see only want they want to see. There’s a nice quote on a slightly different topic by a guy called Upton Sinclair “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” In the case of Nick it should be “It is difficult to get a man to see something, when his ego depends upon his not seeing it”. Nick had basically too choices.
1) He could turn off the blinkers and see he’d been conned. Nicely conned. His friends financially. He emotionally.
2) Or he could believe he was a fallen angel.
One would not make him feel good. One would make him feel very good. As good as one of just twenty people of an elite group amongst six billion of so average idiots. Yes, as good as that would make him feel.
Faced with that choice, what would you choose Flenky? Choose to be the fallen angel, that’s what. Maybe at first it’s not easy. Maybe you’ll have an inkling that actually you are not actually, fallen angel. For one you have no wings. No real special skills to speak at all really. You won’t be able to convince yourself. The idea will be like shoes too large to walk in. You’ll stumble, you won’t wear them naturally, at first. That will change. You’ll grow into this lie. Grow into its shoes. You’ll start believing it. You will be that fallen angel. With that deception you’ll believe, maybe not totally, authentically, hand on heart, but enough,enough to make things easier. That little extra nudge of belief when you try something new, that you are different, that you will succeed,you will make it look easy.That belief is enough. There is no reality. No real life. Carry and keep whatever aids you, discard everything else.
Set it on fire. Burn it to the ground.
I, for example, have long believed that I am probably destined to be some kind of saviour for the human race. I’m not sure how yet. I’ll invent a vaccine. Write a short story that’ll stop wars. Martyr myself by flying a plane into an alien space ship. Something like that. I don’t care of the details. Just that, at some point in time I know that I make it. I will succeed. Exceeded my potential. That I can think to myself -Hey cruel world that has overlooked me! It's me! Adam. I’m finally getting my recognition and I’m in full possession of the last laugh.
I don’t remember where this knowledge of my own brilliance came from. I think it just arrived one day. There was a ring of the doorbell, I answered. Sitting there was the unshakable belief that I am a genius. It’s been with me ever since.
Would it serve me to really question that? To look back in time at how many people had been the saviours of all humanity? To calculate the odds that me, the bald stooped guy who wears dark underwear so he’s not faced with the fact that at 27 he still can’t wipe his ass properly, will go on to be one? No Flenky, it doesn’t.So I don’t.
Just recently Annett and Florian a friend of ours, they were both discussing the moment on a plane journey when there is the first unexpected bit of bad turbulence. Because it’s unexpected the wear seat belt sign is not on. Someone is doing yoga. Someone else is juggling with their kid. You are drinking or about to feed yourself and the jolt makes you miss your mouth and you stab your cheek and our reminded why the cutlery is plastic. Ironic because you were only just complaining about that, not ten minutes ago. When that pocket of turbulence hits and the plane dips, your first thought will be “we’re going to die. We’re going to die in a fiery ball of flames, right here, right now, I can feel it burning already, oh dear god”. Then the second pocket of turbulence hits. The seatbelt light goes on. The Pilot comes over the loud speaker “Ladies and Gentleman we are now expecting a little turbulence, please return to your seat as the fasten seatbelt sign has been illuminated”. Or something like that. They are fairly uniform about what they say on planes, so as not to accidentally let slip that planes fly themselves and they have no idea what to do should this turbulent situation escalate.Oh geez, do they hope it won’t escalate.
So anyway, Flo, Annett and I were discussing this moment. Annett was saying how she found it sweet that during this moment she would think “oh not now. Just let me see Adam one last time”. Flo said it was the same for him and how he wanted one last chance to see his wife. Let’s not pause to point out the stupidity of this. What sort of depressing, haunting, traumatic last meeting that would actually be. Best to slip off unannounced I’d say. I’ll get over it. Sure it’ll take time. It’ll sting like hell, a thousand plasters ripped at once from my heart. But I’ll get over it. Or I’ll learn to deal with it. Eventually. It’ll be better than you popping back in to tell me you’ve swung it with someone in charge to get to say goodbye one last time, before you die in a giant ball of flames. You’ll be in tears. I’ll be like “ha, that’s a good one. Pop the kettle will ya, tea doesn’t brew itself” and you’ll be all like “no I’m serious, this is our final goodbye” and I’ll chuckle and say “you really do have a vivid imagination. I’m serious about wanting some a cuppa. Biscuits as well while you’re there, or is that too much to ask? Why are crying, did someone take your parking space again?”
See, just wouldn’t work.Implausible.
So anyway, as I was saying. Flo and Annett were in agreement. They had similar thoughts when confronted with a surprise death. I, well, I have different thoughts in those situation. Different demands. Sure I also wanted more time. But not to see Annett. I would think things like “Not now, I have yet to produce that piece of seminal brilliance for which I’ll be awarded worldwide fame and recognition. My hometown does not yet contain my statue. History teachers do not know my name! Wait, wait, wait, I still have so much more left to give.”
Even though I have this deep rooted unshakable sense of my own brilliance. I still fail at things. I nearly fail at everything in fact. The only thing I’ve successfully done in recent memory is crossed the road. That was actually a close call. Got beeped at.
Yet, do I get down? Do I start to doubt myself? Do I realign my expectations? Accept an ordinary hum drum life of mediocrity? NO! Why would I do that,I am the as yet undiscovered future saviour of the human race. I get up, dust myself down and say
“Given my undisputed genius, that most recent failure is a statistical anomaly only increasing the odds of my future success”.
I guess to conclude this little motivational rant, what I’m really advocating here is –avoid negativity and negative people.Avoid “realism”. Hide from it. Run from it. Become immune to it. Spit in its face. There are so many people willing to tell you all the things you can’t do. It will not aid you in any way to listen to them. Telling yourself you are happy 100 times a day will make you happier than not telling yourself. Sounds stupid, but it’s true. Reality is what you make it. Make it what you need to get what you want. Once you start lying to yourself you’ll be amazed how gullible you are.
Also and I don’t know if anyone’s told you this already, but I’m pretty sure you’re a fallen angel . One of twenty. Max twenty. Maybe one of ten.
PS Your mum is also somewhat of a fountain of pessimism, maybe that’s what made me want to start with this letter. In case something does happen to me you might be left drowning in her sour bath of negativity. It’s best to treat her and her delusions as light hearted entertainment. She is a lovely person really, just not made for this world. Pretend you’re the child star of a sitcom about a paranoid, socialist, feminist single Mum. You are very good in it. People like your quips and level headedness.