Tag Archives: Shallow Grave

Zippy The Changing Man

I’ve seen him laughing, crying and howling. I’ve even seen him dead.

Fortunately, he was only playing dead as part of a film project while away at University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Today is the day we celebrate every single aspect of the young man known to one and probably that’s all (known to me, of course) as Zippy the Travelin’ Boy.

Yep. It’s another birthday. This time, my middle not-so-little dude is leaving the teens behind and venturing into his 20s. It’s a bit of a shock to see the literal little handful, who had the most amazing head of thick, black hair when he was born, now grown into a young man who towers over his dad.

Zippy the Monkey BoyZippy the Travelin’ Boy has always been the most mutable of our sons. He’s gone through fashion statements (I’ll never forget the violent 180˚ turn he made from surfer punk to cowboy), loves, hates, political perspectives and just about everything else in his life as if he were in a fire sale at a department store and he needed to try on the clothing before it disappeared.

He’s been a bit of a chameleon, is what I’m trying to say. Oddly, considering he took so long to actually speak both understandably and out loud as a child, he’s probably the most verbally accomplished of the three dudes.

By which I mean that he’s always been the type to try out different accents and verbal tics and patterns, sort of like me. I started out early as well. As a young kid, I lived in England and got teased for being an American. So I developed a deep Southern accent, which came in handy when we moved back to Texas. However, as I grew older and started playing football, my teachers assumed I was an idiot because of the accent and the football so they expected nothing from me.

I didn’t like that. So I decided to drop the Southern accent and did, beginning to speak in a bland, newscaster-ish accent. To me, it was easy, but I learned that other people have a hard time doing that. I thought I was unique.

Until Zippy the Travelin’ Boy came into his own. He began copying the various accents I used when I read aloud to the boys and then doing better at them. He started mimicking the unusual voices he heard on television and in the movies, doing a stunningly accurate Bane voice that always cracks me up.

His latest chameleon turn came when he hit college. Since he was 2 and able to mispronounce it relatively consistently, Zippy the Travelin’ Boy (then known as Zippy the Monkey Boy both for his climbing skill and love of animals) wanted to become a marine biologist. Until he hit campus and discovered he would actually have to work and learn to earn that degree.

At which point, he discovered acting and fell in love. Since he wanted to make a living once he graduated, he decided to major in psychology while minoring in both Spanish and theater performance. It’s been fascinating to watch his ambition and skill flower in this new environment.

Whenever we talk about it, his mother and I are smiling like fools.

Which hasn’t always been the case. As he was growing up, I would only have given Zippy the Travelin’ Boy break-even odds that I would let him live to adulthood. He was the most stubborn kid I’d ever met and almost never used those powers for good.

Fortunately for us all, I was able to restrain those homicidal urges and even filled in the suspiciously shallow grave I dug on the sly in the back yard. He’s still stubborn and more than a little of a know-it-all, but he’s learning to actually listen to people with different opinions and has actually been known to listen to the advice from others without disdain.

All of which makes for a great opponent when I want to have an argument or refine my own opinion by seeing how it holds up in combat. His quick wit and merciless attack posture are the ultimate test of survivability.

As much as I enjoyed snuggling with the little dude when he was, in fact, little, I’m finding that I’m enjoying even more being around the young man he’s becoming.

Happy birthday, Zippy the Travelin’ Boy. We love you!

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Birthday Wishes For My Son

Today, Sarcasmo is a man.

Well, he was a man yesterday, too, but today is when it becomes official. As hard as it is to believe, my oldest little dude (who in no way can actually be considered little) turns 21 today.

I am, to put it bluntly, shocked. But only when I stop to think about it. And so I spend most of my time trying desperately not to think about said twopointone decades of parenthood that now stretches behind me.

Yikes.

Feeling the breeze blowing from the open burial pit laid out in front of me is a minor concern, though, when I call to mind the face of my oldest son, my namesake, the fifth of his name. . . Sarcasmo.*

When his mom-to-be and my wife, known to me then as She Who Must Be Sexy No Matter How Distended Is Her Belly Right Then, and I decided to bless the world with our progeny, we had no idea he’d not want to come out.

There we were, past 40 weeks and Sarcasmo-to-be seemed to have no intention of leaving where he was. Heck, he was comfortable, warm and fed where he was, so why go through the hassle of getting born?

Which meant we needed to do a little inducing so we packed up and headed to the hospital where the Motile Clone Gestation Unit was hooked up to various drug drips and monitors and we settled in to wait.

Despite a few contractions, it didn’t seem to be progressing. This being the dark ages, we couldn’t pull out a tablet and watch something good, so we had to make do with TV. Nothing good was on, so I got sent by the Motile Clone Gestation Unit to a nearby Blockbuster Video to rent a movie to watch. During labor.

Of course it was while I was at the video store that the doctors broke her water and the really painful contractions set in. I got a page (I told you it was in the dark ages) that consisted of the digitally written equivalent of “GET BACK HERE NOW! I WILL KILL YOU FOR LEAVING! GET BACK NOW! I WILL KILL YOU! I love you.”

Labor, amirite, dudes?

Even though we had a few exciting hours of contractions, eventually it leveled off and stalled. Sarcasmo-to-be really didn’t want to come out. So we were going to have to cut him out.

Dudes, let me tell you something important here. If you ever are in the operating room with your partner and child-to-be and the doctor offers for you to look over the curtain at the incision site. . . Don’t do it. Just. . . don’t.

And then the doctors told us that we had a baby boy. Our son. And placed the tiny human in our arms and I realized just exactly what real love felt like. I understood why my parents put up with my guff for all those years.

I looked into his face and understood the purpose of the universe had been to bring us all there. To that hospital. In that room. At that time. To bring into existence the reason for it all.

I met my son and all other concerns fell away.

With Sarcasmo, I learned how to be a parent. He taught me how to be a dad. How to be friendly, but still retain the authority to speak and be listened to. Even more important, he also taught me how to listen.

He was my first little dude to smile, to talk, to crawl and walk. To eat on his own. He was the first to be embarrassed by the sniffling dad in the back of the kindergarten classroom who just did not want to leave and might have had to be escorted from the room by the teacher’s helper.**

But even better than all the tiny-human firsts is the current first. He’s the first of my little dudes that I can watch become a man. He’s out on his own now, making decisions (for good and for ill) and beginning his own life, one only tangentially related to mine.

It’s hard — darn hard — to let go of the wheel that directs his life. But it’s something I’m learning from him even now.

He’s got the tools he needs to succeed and is one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. And I say that as a person, not necessarily as a dad. And one of the thickest and fastest-growing beards it’s ever been my frightened privilege to watch grow.

The years between the dawn of his first night as a tiny human on the outside (when I held him up to the rising sun, proclaimed him my heir and listened to the roar of the animals***) and now have not always been easy ones. There have been times when I haven’t wanted to hear his voice and many more when, I’m sure, he thought the one thing in which I would look best would be a shallow grave.

And, yet, through all that. . . Through the screaming and the yelling. . . Through the tears and the smiles. . . I have always loved the big dude and always will.

Sarcasmo is an amazing young dude with so much promise to fulfill as he walks out into the world as a man. I’m so glad I get to be there as it happens.

Footnotes & Errata

* NO! That’s not his real name, d’uh! He’s Richard Edward Jones V, where the V stands for Roman Numeral Five, not Violet. At least as far as he knows.
** Might have. The important word in that sentence is might.
*** Although I’m not sure why there was a big orangutan there. Or animals, really. It was an. . . odd dawn. I might have been a bit punchy.

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And, Lo, The Choice, It Is Made

by Richard

And the winner is. . . Wait, I’ve got to tell you who’s doing the winning and who’s making the choice and what sort of choice it is before I can tell you the winner.

It all started back two years ago on College Road Trip 2009 when Sarcasmo and I decided it was time to hit the road and view a couple of colleges that he might be interested in attending. I did the same thing with College Road Trip 2010 with Zippy the Monkey Boy. What can I say, dudes? I must have been crazy.

Anyway, Sarcasmo and I hit the road for a long, long trip. We visited seven colleges and universities in 10 days. By the end of which, I’m pretty sure, he was gleefully planning my murder and where he’d be digging the shallow grave. I heard him mumbling in his sleep there towards the end, something about wanting to make sure the grave was deep enough to hide my body from most people, but still shallow enough so dogs could get at the corpse and start tearing it apart. He was oddly specific. I ended up sleeping in a locked bathroom in the bathtub that last night.

No particular reason. Just thought it seemed like fun.

So we visited huge universities, medium sized universities, and a couple of small-ish private schools. And it ended up that he liked and wanted to go to North Carolina State University, which is, for those of you dudes who don’t know, a very large school.

As the time came, almost a year later, to apply for schools, we thought it might be a good idea to see what some smaller schools had to offer. We ended up going to see Roanoke College and High Point University, both with fewer than 5,000 students.

Not only did Sarcasmo get accepted to all seven schools to which he applied, he got offered a couple of minor scholarships that would make the private schools just barely affordable. All in all, he was feeling pretty full of himself. Which, I guess, I should be.

Eventually, after much consideration, he’s decided he wants to be a High Point University Panther. It’s a wonderful, small, private university located in High Point, North Carolina, less than two hours from home. It’s far enough away that he won’t be dragging his laundry home for me to do, but near enough that he can come home on more than just semester breaks.

It’s also beautiful. After our tour, I wanted to go there. Too old, though, is what I was told. Hah! What do they know? Anyway, we decided to send the younger RE Jones there, even though I was tempted to try and take his place. Now all he has to do is pass the rest of his high-school classes and he’s in.

So, congratulations, Sarcasmo! And Go, Panthers!

 

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