I didn’t see it coming and I don’t know when the process was finally complete. I shouldn’t be surprised. But despite a truly valiant effort, here I am looking in the mirror, and there are my parents looking back at me. I’ve become my parents.
I have somewhere around 25,000 genes and not one is an original. I don’t want to sound like I don’t appreciate what I’ve got, but all of my genes came from only two people and I know them, which is why it scares me so much. I’m a slave to the DNA delivered by that intrepid swimmer to a single cell awaiting the last half of its instructions to begin its work.
Forty-ish years later, the resulting collection of cells is desperately trying to find ways to avoid following those instructions.
I wish someone had warned me it would happen. I could have tried to stop the transformation somehow. I don’t know, maybe there’s a shrink out there that’s figured our how to cure it. Maybe they could have done a lobotomy or shock therapy to reboot my brain or something. If that wouldn’t work, I could have at least embraced it and used the knowledge to prepare for the inevitable, maybe even turn it into an advantage. After all, I had this crystal ball right in front of me for my entire life–my parents didn’t just predict my future; they demonstrated it daily.
My Future sat across the dinner table from me day after day; it changed my diapers; it showed up at school with the lunch I invariably forgot; it complained about my music, and made every effort to avoid talking to me about sex. It was all there, right in front of me to see, learn from, and maybe even avoid.
But I didn’t take advantage of this great prophet, and now I spend massive amounts of energy (and therapy) trying to figure out how the hell I got here.
Having come to the realization that there’s no escape, I’ve given in to the inevitable. What’s done is done: I can be heard declaring in public that the music kids listen to today sucks and the last generation of real music was, of course, mine. I argue that kids today have no respect for their elders and don’t know what it means to have to work for what they want. I think 10-year old girls have no business showing their butt crack in public. And I am too frequently heard saying, “I sound like my father.” OK, my dad never said that thing about 10-year old butt cracks; in his day it was probably knees that were the main offenders.
My parents are fine folks, I just don’t want to be them. The bottom line is, though, that no matter how hard we try, we will become our parents. It happened to me and I’m sorry to say, son, that it’ll happen to you. So have a good look at me now. Learn what you can. Who knows, maybe you can alter that destiny just a bit.
Think of this as my gift to you. It’s a guide of sorts, a handbook to help you understand what you’re up against. Because the only thing that scares me more than me becoming my parents would be you becoming yours.
Oh, and I’m sorry for, well, whatever it is that someday will cause you to say, “Dammit, I sound just like my father.”