A Change of View

A short family story

The extra bedroom had been turned into a den or office of some sort.  It was supposed to be a place to work or study, but actually it was just a place for Rob to hide out from the family.  In there he could read or daydream or actually make use of the computer he was determined to learn more about.  This determination did not go much farther than turning it on, looking at the home page and checking his email.  Rob did not get much email.  His friends knew he rarely read them anyway.  Rob did not have to use the computer much at work, and used it less at home.

Books, creative commons license

Over time the den had become cluttered with books and magazines.  That was Rob’s doing.  “These are the things to be read,” he thought.  The internet contained sound bites and headlines and celebrity pictures and Rob was convinced it held little value for him.  You might say Rob was a bit of a throwback to a previous generation.  The passing years had confused him and upset the neat world order in the family of Rob.  So, he needed his refuge to occasionally escape his modern family.

He had a conservative wife with conservative looks and conservative taste.  Despite her ever youthful appearance, she was likely better suited to  the era of black and white television than the present day.  She did not seem the daring young girl Rob married over three decades earlier.  There were also two teenage children, a boy and a girl.  Rob recalled how he used to call them his “little prince and princess.”  Rob’s neatly appointed wife thought he carried on with the “prince and princess” thing too long.  Becky continued to be “daddy’s little girl” and certainly acted like a princess, but Josh had transformed into someone else.  Until now, Rob had no idea how the world of Josh had changed.

This particular Thursday evening Rob sat alone in the den waiting.  He had come home to do something he had never done before and now he was waiting.  He looked up at the clock and it revealed the hour was closing in on 7 pm.  His teenagers had not arrived home and his ever patient wife was just starting to make dinner.  They were all going to keep him waiting.  On most days he would not sit in a room with just a low watt energy-saving bulb burning and do nothing but wait, but that was his mission now.  He was unsure what he would say when the waiting ended, his mind was actually rather blank and his face was free from expression of any kind.  He looked rather like an old soldier who just had a mortar shell go off nearby.  He waited in stunned silence.

Earlier in the day Rob was talking to one of the other dads at work.  The other dad was much younger and that may have been the reason he was more in tune with the teenagers and the internet.  “Do you ever watch You Tube videos? ” the younger dad had asked.  “No,” Rob replied, “I am not sure if I have ever seen one.”  “Here is one you will want to see.  Search this title.”  He handed Rob a piece of paper.  “It is important.  Do it today.  Here too is the ‘username’ of the one who posted it just in case you have any trouble finding it.”  The younger dad would answer no questions and would not say anymore on the subject.  Rob had put the folded up piece of paper in his pocket and did not take it out until he reached the den.  Once there, he went immediately to his desk, turned on the computer and sat silently.

As he waited for the computer to start up he read the few words on the paper over and over.  Could this possibly be some sort of joke?  Would they all laugh about it tomorrow in the company break room?  Would this just be a few minutes of needed entertainment?  When the computer was on, Rob searched for the title.  At first he was confused and a bit nervous.  There were so many videos with similar titles he was unsure what to pick.  Then he noticed the user name and started scrolling through the titles looking for the right one.

When he located the name that matched the one written out for him, he clicked on it quickly, before he could change his mind.  He watched the whole thing and when it was over, a single tear rolled down his cheek.  There was just one before his tears and his mouth dried up and his palms began to sweat.  In his 50+ years he had never felt like this before, ever.  When the clock stuck seven, the computer was still on and Rob was still silent.

Soon after the seven o’clock bells tolled for Josh, he opened the front door and came strolling in.  When he passed the door of the den Rob yelled, “Josh, get in here.”  Josh had never in his life heard such a sound come from his father.  As a matter of fact, Rob had never heard such a sound before either.  Whatever was the cause of this greeting, Josh knew it could not be good.  He stuck his head through the doorway and said, “Yes, sir” in a timid little voice left over from his “little prince” days.  In his 17 years, 3 months and 2 days, Josh was never this nervous, even when he broke Mrs. Applebaum’s car mirror playing baseball in the street.

Broadcast Yourself

Broadcast Yourself

“Come over here,” Rob commanded.  Josh walked over and stopped across the desk from dear old dad, who just lookd old at the moment.  “No, over here,” Rob said, pointing to the floor next to where he sat.  Josh came around the desk as Rob made ready with his new knowledge of You Tube.  When the little prince was in place, Rob clicked on the video and Josh knew immediately what was on the bill.  His heart and stomach tensed up as if someone was strangling them from inside.

“Dad,” the little prince squeaked.  “Quiet,” Rob growled in returned.  And so for the first time, father and son watched a You Tube Video together, all 8 minutes and 22 seconds of it.  When it was over and an uncomfortable few seconds had passed, Rob said, “Go,” in a soft voice that gave away hurt and betrayal.  Josh rushed from the den, ran to his room and slammed the door.  Rob emerged from the den to find his pretty wife rushing to the scene.

“What’s up with you two?” she said.  “Did the prince do something wrong?”  Rob gave his response a moment of thought and said, “Why didn’t we have kids sooner in life?”  “YOU did not want to,” she laughed.  “You said we should be financially sound before we started a family.”  She was right, of course.  That is exactly what he said.  He said it many times throughout the first dozen years of their marriage.

“I think teenagers were not as difficult years ago.  There just seems to be so much more to deal with now.”  The pretty little wife with the perfect hair and the perfect smile looked puzzled, but Rob said no more about it that night or for many nights to come.  He had no idea how to tell her that the little prince had come out as gay to the entire world by way of a You Tube video, but was unable to find a way to tell his parents.

Violence and the evening meal

Pulling the trigger on violence

“Hey pal, what’s up?”
“Hey! I got trouble with my damn kids.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. What seems to be the problem?”
“Last night they wuz shootin at cops and hoes all night.”
“What?”
“I said…”
“I heard you. That’s terrible.”
“You’re tellin me. I tried to call them little pests to dinner but they would pay me no mind. I spent a lot of cash at KFC, but it’s all good.”
“Good, what do you mean good?”
“I mean I can eat that chicken again today.”
“But the kids…what happened to the kids?”
“Hell if I know. They were at it all night.”
“What?”
“I said…”
“Yeah, yeah, I got it, but you must have terrible trouble with the police.”
“No, I don’t have no trouble. It’s those kids, they got the trouble, but I guess they’ll get the hang of it soon.”
“What…I mean, hang of it? What do you mean hang of it?”
“Well if you play them damn games long enough, you get the hang of it. You know teenagers, they’ll play ’em all night long if you let ’em”
“Games? Is this a game with them?”
“Yeah, everything is a damn game. I told my wife not to buy ’em, but she lets them have ’em anyway.”
“Wait…are we talking about video games?”
“That’s what I’m talkin about. The one day a week we can have dinner together and those little bastards won’t even get out of their rooms.”
“Why don’t you make them stop playing and come to the dinner table?”
“You must not have teenagers. They are hard enough to live with, I sure ain’t gonna make em do somethin that’ll cause me grief. They could grab a plate and join us by the TV but NO”
“How about some other night? You can make them sit down before they play games or do their homework.”
“Homework? Are you kidding? I ain’t seen ’em do homework in years. Anyway I don’t really have time any other night.”
“Oh, working late most nights?”
“Well, yeah, sorta. I mean, Wednesday is boys night out and Thursday is pool night. Friday we invite the super out cuz he’ll buy the first couple of rounds. Saturday I best do somethin with the wife or she gets pissed. Sunday there are games all day long. Monday I gotta rest so Tuesday is about the only day for the little monsters. Actually, they are big monsters now.”
“What about discipline?”
“That’s the wife’s job.”
“But the kids won’t learn anything playing video games.”
“Well they sure ain’t learnt to kill cops yet, if last night’s reactions mean much. I guess they got a few hoes.”
“Don’t you worry about them not learning respect for women by doing that.”
“Well, last week they wuz yellin, “plugged another bitch!” and I finally made them stop because their ma wuz gettin real mad.”
“So, she didn’t want to hear that language anymore?”
“No, she couldn’t hear her programs and that makes her real mad. I can’t have that. Of course, it’s partly her fault anyway.”
“It is?”
“Yeah, she buys em those damn games in the first place. If I get too mad at her she will buy that damn rap music too just to piss me off more.”
“Oh, I am beginning to understand the problem.”
“Damn right, it’s that rap music. It turns kids into evil little bastards. Want some chicken?”

***********************************************************************************

Cover of "Brokeback Mountain  [Blu-ray]"

Cover of Brokeback Mountain [Blu-ray]

In the Academy Award nominated Brokeback Mountain, Jack Twist gathers his family for Thanksgiving dinner and turns off the television so his son will sit at the dinner table and eat. The father-in-law turns the television back on because the football games are on. Jack turns it off again and when the father-in-law starts for the TV, Jack yells at him to leave it off. He angrily explains that his wife spent all day cooking for the family and they were going to sit there and eat, not watch football. It is a powerful scene of Jack trying to do what he thinks is right for the family. It stuck with me, not only because of the power of that movie, but because I could picture us sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table and looking over at a silent television. I guess now I have the television going during Thanksgiving dinner, but I do not have kids learning something other than “grace” in the next room. I never thought of myself as “old fashioned” but maybe that is what you grow up to be, if you are lucky.

A Change of View

A short family story

The extra bedroom had been turned into a den or office of some sort.  It was supposed to be a place to work or study, but actually it was just a place for Rob to hide out from the family.  In there he could read or daydream or actually make use of the computer he was determined to learn more about.  This determination did not go much farther than turning it on, looking at the home page and checking his email.  Rob did not get much email.  His friends knew he rarely read them anyway.  Rob did not have to use the computer much at work, and used it less at home.

Over time the den had become cluttered with books and magazines.  That was Rob’s doing.  “These are the things to be read,” he thought.  The internet contained sound bites and headlines and celebrity pictures and Rob was convinced it held little value for him.  You might say Rob was a bit of a throwback to a previous generation.  The passing years had confused him and upset the neat world order in the family of Rob.  So, he needed his refuge to occasionally escape his modern family.  He had a conservative wife with conservative looks and conservative taste.  Despite her ever youthful appearance, she was likely better suited to  the era of black and white television than the present day.  She did not seem the daring young girl Rob married over three decades earlier.  There were also two teenage children, a boy and a girl.  Rob recalled how he used to call them his “little prince and princess.”  Rob’s neatly appointed wife thought he carried on with the “prince and princess” thing too long.  Becky continued to be “daddy’s little girl” and certainly acted like a princess, but Josh had transformed into someone else.  Until now, Rob had no idea how the world of Josh had changed.

This particular Thursday evening Rob sat alone in the den waiting.  He had come home to do something he had never done before and now he was waiting.  He looked up at the clock and it revealed the hour was closing in on 7 pm.  His teenagers had not arrived home and his ever patient wife was just starting to make dinner.  They were all going to keep him waiting.  On most days he would not sit in a room with just a low watt energy-saving bulb burning and do nothing but wait, but that was his mission now.  He was unsure what he would say when the waiting ended, his mind was actually rather blank and his face was free from expression of any kind.  He looked rather like an old soldier who just had a mortar shell go off nearby.  He waited in stunned silence.

Earlier in the day Rob was talking to one of the other dads at work.  The other dad was much younger and that may have been the reason he was more in tune with the teenagers and the internet.  “Do you ever watch You Tube videos? ” the younger dad had asked.  “No,” Rob replied, “I am not sure if I have ever seen one.”  “Here is one you will want to see.  Search this title.”  He handed Rob a piece of paper.  “It is important.  Do it today.  Here too is the ‘username’ of the one who posted it just in case you have any trouble finding it.”  The younger dad would answer no questions and would not say anymore on the subject.  Rob had put the folded up piece of paper in his pocket and did not take it out until he reached the den.  Once there, he went immediately to his desk, turned on the computer and sat silently.

As he waited for the computer to start up he read the few words on the paper over and over.  Could this possibly be some sort of joke?  Would they all laugh about it tomorrow in the company break room?  Would this just be a few minutes of needed entertainment?  When the computer was on, Rob searched for the title.  At first he was confused and a bit nervous.  There were so many videos with similar titles he was unsure what to pick.  Then he noticed the user name and started scrolling through the titles looking for the right one.  When he located the name that matched the one written out for him, he clicked on it quickly, before he could change his mind.  He watched the whole thing and when it was over, a single tear rolled down his cheek.  There was just one before his tears and his mouth dried up and his palms began to sweat.  In his 50+ years he had never felt like this before, ever.  When the clock stuck seven, the computer was still on and Rob was still silent.

Soon after the seven o’clock bells tolled for Josh, he opened the front door and came strolling in.  When he passed the door of the den Rob yelled, “Josh, get in here.”  Josh had never in his life heard such a sound come from his father.  As a matter of fact, Rob had never heard such a sound before either.  Whatever was the cause of this greeting, Josh knew it could not be good.  He stuck his head through the doorway and said, “Yes, sir” in a timid little voice left over from his “little prince” days.  In his 17 years, 3 months and 2 days, Josh was never this nervous, even when he broke Mrs. Applebaum’s car mirror playing baseball in the street.

Broadcast Yourself

Broadcast Yourself

“Come over here,” Rob commanded.  Josh walked over and stopped across the desk from dear old dad, who just lookd old at the moment.  “No, over here,” Rob said, pointing to the floor next to where he sat.  Josh came around the desk as Rob made ready with his new knowledge of You Tube.  When the little prince was in place, Rob clicked on the video and Josh knew immediately what was on the bill.  His heart and stomach tensed up as if someone was strangling them from inside.  “Dad,” the little prince squeaked.  “Quiet,” Rob growled in returned.  And so for the first time, father and son watched a You Tube Video together, all 8 minutes and 22 seconds of it.  When it was over and an uncomfortable few seconds had passed, Rob said, “Go,” in a soft voice that gave away hurt and betrayal.  Josh rushed from the den, ran to his room and slammed the door.  Rob emerged from the den to find his pretty wife rushing to the scene.

“What’s up with you two?” she said.  “Did the prince do something wrong?”  Rob gave his response a moment of thought and said, “Why didn’t we have kids sooner in life?”  “YOU did not want to,” she laughed.  “You said we should be financially sound before we started a family.”  She was right, of course.  That is exactly what he said.  He said it many times throughout the first dozen years of their marriage.

“I think teenagers were not as difficult years ago.  There just seems to be so much more to deal with now.”  The pretty little wife with the perfect hair and the perfect smile looked puzzled, but Rob said no more about it that night or for many nights to come.  He had no idea how to tell her that the little prince had come out as gay to the entire world by way of a You Tube video, but was unable to find a way to tell his parents.

Violence and the evening meal

Pulling the trigger on violence

“Hey pal, what’s up?”
“Hey! I got trouble with my damn kids.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. What seems to be the problem?”
“Last night they wuz shootin at cops and hoes all night.”
“What?”
“I said…”
“I heard you. That’s terrible.”
“You’re tellin me. I tried to call them little pests to dinner but they would pay me no mind. I spent a lot of cash at KFC, but it’s all good.”
“Good, what do you mean good?”
“I mean I can eat that chicken again today.”
“But the kids…what happened to the kids?”
“Hell if I know. They were at it all night.”
“What?”
“I said…”
“Yeah, yeah, I got it, but you must have terrible trouble with the police.”
“No, I don’t have no trouble. It’s those kids, they got the trouble, but I guess they’ll get the hang of it soon.”
“What…I mean, hang of it? What do you mean hang of it?”
“Well if you play them damn games long enough, you get the hang of it. You know teenagers, they’ll play ’em all night long if you let ’em”
“Games? Is this a game with them?”
“Yeah, everything is a damn game. I told my wife not to buy ’em, but she lets them have ’em anyway.”
“Wait…are we talking about video games?”
“That’s what I’m talkin about. The one day a week we can have dinner together and those little bastards won’t even get out of their rooms.”
“Why don’t you make them stop playing and come to the dinner table?”
“You must not have teenagers. They are hard enough to live with, I sure ain’t gonna make em do somethin that’ll cause me grief. They could grab a plate and join us by the TV but NO”
“How about some other night? You can make them sit down before they play games or do their homework.”
“Homework? Are you kidding? I ain’t seen ’em do homework in years. Anyway I don’t really have time any other night.”
“Oh, working late most nights?”
“Well, yeah, sorta. I mean, Wednesday is boys night out and Thursday is pool night. Friday we invite the super out cuz he’ll buy the first couple of rounds. Saturday I best do somethin with the wife or she gets pissed. Sunday there are games all day long. Monday I gotta rest so Tuesday is about the only day for the little monsters. Actually, they are big monsters now.”
“What about discipline?”
“That’s the wife’s job.”
“But the kids won’t learn anything playing video games.”
“Well they sure ain’t learnt to kill cops yet, if last night’s reactions mean much. I guess they got a few hoes.”
“Don’t you worry about them not learning respect for women by doing that.”
“Well, last week they wuz yellin, “plugged another bitch!” and I finally made them stop because their ma wuz gettin real mad.”
“So, she didn’t want to hear that language anymore?”
“No, she couldn’t hear her programs and that makes her real mad. I can’t have that. Of course, it’s partly her fault anyway.”
“It is?”
“Yeah, she buys em those damn games in the first place. If I get too mad at her she will buy that damn rap music too just to piss me off more.”
“Oh, I am beginning to understand the problem.”
“Damn right, it’s that rap music. It turns kids into evil little bastards. Want some chicken?”

***********************************************************************************

Cover of "Brokeback Mountain  [Blu-ray]"

Cover of Brokeback Mountain [Blu-ray]

In the Academy Award nominated Brokeback Mountain, Jack Twist gathers his family for Thanksgiving dinner and turns off the television so his son will sit at the dinner table and eat. The father-in-law turns the television back on because the football games are on. Jack turns it off again and when the father-in-law starts for the TV, Jack yells at him to leave it off. He angrily explains that his wife spent all day cooking for the family and they were going to sit there and eat, not watch football. It is a powerful scene of Jack trying to do what he thinks is right for the family. It stuck with me, not only because of the power of that movie, but because I could picture us sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table and looking over at a silent television. I guess now I have the television going during Thanksgiving dinner, but I do not have kids learning something other than “grace” in the next room. I never thought of myself as “old fashioned” but maybe that is what you grow up to be, if you are lucky.