Thursday, January 04, 2007


It’s 2007. And like every other new year, people are sure to be making and breaking resolutions right up into mid-February when they settle right back into the mediocre selves that they found themselves disappointed in that past December. I don’t do resolutions.

I do, however, tend to map things out at the top of the year. List things I want to accomplish in the new year and beyond. Grade my efforts on last year’s list. Wonder why years -- though reportedly still 365 days – are starting to feel shorter. But this year, that too seems inadequate.

I just read an article in January’s Esquire about Norman Mailer. The author, Tom Junod – obviously a fan – paints a picture of a man capable, at once, of writing brilliantly, stabbing his wife, grappling with life’s great questions and engaging in drunken headbutting that leaves a scar to this day. All I could think was, “I hope they say that about me someday.” All except for the stabbing of the wife part. I rather like Mrs. NMN and don’t feel she has done anything for which she deserves to be stabbed…yet. (Just kidding. You can tweak it all you like, but a good domestic violence joke is hard to write.)

Lately, I’ve been asking myself big questions. Things like, will it matter when I’m gone that I was here? It saddens me to inform you, New Millennium Nation, that I am dying.

I have no idea when, you understand. But I am, and have been since the day of my birth – an event which, appropriately, took place in a hospital that was thereafter shut down – dying.

Oddly, I don’t find that depressing. I know for sure that it does not depress me, because I have experienced deep depression. I know from depressed. And the inevitability of death does not depress me. In fact, I’ve found this recent “discovery” mind-blowingly liberating. “You’re entering an existentialist phase,” some of you will opine smugly. Perhaps, but it is my existentialist phase. So fuck you for trying to cut my trip short.

And so this is my man-ifesto, if you will. My declaration today of the man I want to be someday. It is also my way of procrastinating, so it will be – I am quite sure – exceptionally long.

And for those of you still with me…here it goes.

I want to be a good father, which by my definition includes being a good husband. I want to understand how Mrs. NMN’s friends could have been so wrong about me. (She never says what they said…but I know!) I want to understand how I could have been right about me with so much evidence to the contrary. I want to let go of petty shit like this after eight years of marriage and two beautiful kids.

I want someone at my funeral to say, “He was a good man.” I want someone else to say, “He was an asshole.” I want them to exchange fiery “Fuck you’s!,” breaking up the maudlin predictably I would surely have found revolting. I want them to fight right there on the steps of the church. I want the combatants to be women. I want somebody to remember that I – in part, an adolescent boy until my dying day – always had fond memories of girl fights because there was always a chance somebody’s titty might pop out.

I want to read the Bible –the one I’ve been eyeballing for the last year -- in its entirety. I then want to feed it, page by page, into the nearest shredder and spend the rest of my life deciding for myself what I believe.

I want to wrestle with God until he gets tired of my shit and puts my lights out, bloodying my nose and making me spit teeth. I want to come to, stagger to my feet, and square my shoulders to that muthafucka, ready to go another round if he doesn’t ANSWER MY FUCKING QUESTIONS!!! Like, “What was the fucking story with Job? That story always shook my confidence. What are you, some degenerate gambler?”

I want to be cooler every year like Ed Bradley. And in whatever comes after this life, I want to drink at the bar with him until he’s moved to sing “Sixty Minute Man” at full throat, like in the clip they played on “60 Minutes” after he died. Everybody should, at some point, get lit and sing at the top of their lungs. It’s great. I’ve done it before. And I hope to do it again. And if it’s heaven to me, there’ll be some fucking “stinking drunk-from the gut-in the key of X” singing going on from time to time. As Ed -- we'll be on a first name basis after drinking together all night -- finishes singing, I want to lean over to Richard Pryor and shoot off some quip that moves him to call me a “funny muthafucka.” I want to smile back, “No. YOU are one funny muthafucka.” Then, as I sober up, I want to thank Richard Wright for giving the gift of “Black Boy” to a ten year old Black boy.

I want to get into heaven. I want to know there is a heaven. I hope God doesn’t send me to hell for that whole “ANSWER MY FUCKING QUESTIONS!!!” incident. Knowing me, the Devil – if he, or she, or it exists – would probably send me back eventually. I can be a real pain in the ass and I suspect God is the only one who could put up with my bullshit for eternity.

I want to see my mother again. I want to tell her she shouldn’t have left so soon. I want to say that to her, though I’ll know then as I know now, that she was scared as shit of becoming a helpless old person like the Alzheimer’s patients she’d cared for all those years. I want her to tell me she doesn’t give a shit what I think since, if it hadn’t been for her years of lobbying on my behalf, I would never have been admitted into heaven in the first goddamn place. I want there to be cursing in heaven. I want her to tell me that my father finally apologized.

I want my nephew to brag about me. I want his mother, my sister, to say I was a good uncle, a good brother. Or, at least, that I tried.

I want to create something that touches someone somewhere. I want to make a movie that makes a 13-year old boy blow the soda he bought at the concession stand out his nose as he learns – as I did from the Elephantitis film clip in “Johnny Dangerously” – that juvenile humor is a gift that lasts a lifetime. I want to write the right words in the right way at the right time and inspire somebody to do the right thing. I want to thank Spike Lee for changing my life by making “Do The Right Thing”.

I want to apologize to everybody I ever did wrong and explain to them that I’m sorry I did them wrong, but not sorry I did wrong. After all, you have to fuck up to learn. And I had a lot to learn.

I want to write what I truly feel and not immediately want to delete it, showing no one.

I want a lot of things.

Fuck! Look at all the time I’ve wasted.

I better get to work.

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