Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Mystery Solved--Loving Someone A Lot Will Make You Epically Fail

Photo: Pilot Ejecting from the Crashing Jet.  This is the epitome of an epic fail.

I break the aforementioned pattern of blog posts today, for a reason that will be obvious as you read.  Or, if you will, consider this a mystery solved.  It isn't a mystery with a crime, or with any suspects.  It's a mystery about growing up, I suppose.  About human nature.  About what it is to be a loving, caring person.

I used to think that my father's gift to me one year, when I was a kid, was the worst I'd ever gotten.  The problem was that it was a large present, and big to a kid means awesome.  My mother watched from her ever-constant chair, wearing a little frown, but my father watched with glee as I attacked the wrapping.  I remember saying, "It'''s..." as I came closer to undressing the present.  Finally, holding the large gift in hand, I said:

"It''s...a giant box of Corn Flakes."

And it was.  A giant box of Corn Flakes.  With a red plastic handle at the top.  Inside this box were TWO large boxes of Corn Flakes.  Two.  Corn Flakes.  For Christmas.

"I told you he wasn't going to like it," my mother said.

"But he loves Corn Flakes," my father protested, bewildered at what today's teens would call "an epic fail."

For the following 30 or so years I'd considered that the worst Christmas gift--the worst anything gift--ever.

Now I know better.  My mother has been dead for over 10 years now, and my father has been diagnosed with cancer in more than 5 different areas of his body, including both legs, a lung, and his skull.  And I've had several epic fails of my own since that Christmas, over 30 years ago.

What I take from it now--what I couldn't take from it then--was the totality of well-meaning ridiculousness that caring will drive you to.  It'll make you buy a humongous box of Corn Flakes that actually contains two very large boxes of Corn Flakes, and it'll make you believe that your 9-year old son will actually want that for Christmas.  Loving someone a lot will make you epically fail.

The gift now is that epic failure.  Other people have parents who do not epically fail.  Primarily this is because they do not care enough to fall off the cliff to begin with.  My father did, he always has, he does now.  His paramount caring will be his everlasting monument to us.  He cared enough to fail, and oh my goodness did he ever, at times.

I remember those times now with joy.  I care about someone enough now to make incredibly stupid judgments.  I've bought my own share of Corn Flakes.  She's not a kid, so she appreciates those plummets off the cliff for what they really are: Such a huge amount of caring that I'm willing to look like an idiot for her.

And do I ever.  Just like my Dad did.

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