Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Chewing The Moral Fibers

What if my father had not despised chewing gum so? He said to me when I was a child that chewing gum was despicable and that all chewers of gum should be executed. I liked gum. Perhaps if he had not said this, then maybe I would have agreed with him that Niggers and Jews should also be lined up against the wall. I might have swallowed hook line and sinker the notion that there was a world wide conspiracy in progress being orchestrated by sixty rich families that would stop at nothing short of a bloody revolution resulting in the destruction of their lineages. I may have accepted without question that the human race was created by a more advanced civilization of beings to provide a work force that would mine the gold which they needed to power their space craft. But he pushed me over the edge with the chewing gum issue. This was the first matter on which I was willing to disagree with my father, the first thing which made me feel that it was okay to defy him. I wanted to chew gum. I did chew gum. I did this despicable thing and nothing happened. The righteousness of the world did not come slamming down upon me like a dump truck full of text books. My father did not shoot me in the back of the head. He did not even ground me. He only shook his finger at me and said,
"I better not find that on the floor or anywhere else but in the trash can."
Maybe once or twice he did find it on the floor, but as it was not clear whether it had been my error or my sister’s (not clear to even my sister and I, or, at least on my end, I truly believed I was innocent and believed her when she said that she was) nobody could be punished and life went right on ticking. I chewed it and I REACHED INTO MY MOUTH WITH MY FINGERS AND PULLED ON IT TO WATCH IT STRETCH FROM MY TEETH FAR OUT BEFORE MY EYES, THEN STUFFED IT BACK IN MY MOUTH AND CHEWED SOME MORE. I was told not to do this, but I wanted to, so I continued to chomp and smack away and even learned to blow bubbles that would burst and cling to my face as a sticky pink film and sometimes it even made its way into my hair and had to be cut out.
But I was not executed, nor were the scores of other children I was aquatinted with who were as despicable as me in their gum chewing habits. We continued to exist. And because my father had been so extreme and severe in the way he spoke about chewing gum, it seemed likely that anything else that he said might be equally ludicrous. I could probably marry or even just fuck a black man today (even though I was passionately warned against it), and send our smiling photo to my parents in an email headed, “Me and My man Jamal at Golden Gate Park”, and still suffer no consequence. My Dad probably would not disown or kill me or Jamal (though he promised that he would when I was seven). He would probably even let him into the house on Thanksgiving. He might even play computer games with him, Jamal could be an Orc and my Dad an Elf and they would go on missions together and play for hours and life would go on. We couldn’t listen to rap music while we visited without my fathers head exploding and sending his crunchy brain matter flying through the room as if a bag of pork rinds or Funions had burst, in which case there would at last be a tragic fatality and we’d have to sweep up the mess. But the criminal (me) would go on listening to devil music with Jews and Negroes while chewing gum and buying the things that keep the rich getting richer behind those imposing locked doors in tall dark towers far from sight. Being as extreme as they were, my father’s words burned a hole right through my psyche, a hole through which all manner of things is capable of passing without causing me to shout,
"Off with their fucking heads!"
A hole deeper and darker than Alice’s, with tunnels which branch off into Wonderlands of every kind and color, where every wrong lives with every right and they exchange hats like teenage girls trading bangles. An infinite network of possibilities that would be closed to me if my father had bought me chewing gum at the Nickel And Dime and patted by blonde pig tails.

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