growing up, we were subjected to the following behavior: the parent tells us in complete earnestness: I'M SORRY, BUT SANTA CLAUS CALLED AND UM SAID HE RAN OUT OF PRESENTS JUST BEFORE REACHING OUR HOUSE. ALL WE HAVE UNDER THE TREE ARE POTATOES. I'M SURE YOU UNDERSTAND.
this declaration would be followed by anticipatory silence, and because i had already been poor, it wasn't like we hadn't feasted on disappointment, but i would watch his face try to hold composure much like a faulty boiler tries to contain all that building pressure within those rosy, ember-red cheeks.
the only way to end the charade was to feign extreme disappointment (i couldn't manage tears by this point, sorry) until the storm passed and the parents laughed and laughed and laughed
they tried to do this to my kids, saying, I'M SORRY BUT (insert VERY clever story) THERE ARE NO PRESENTS, PLEASE DON'T CRY
under normal circumstances, they would need to cry to collect their loot, but being as how i'm an alien, i ruin it all by saying, 'it's a joke. just play along. oops, was that out loud? have some egg nog, everyone.'
there was some VIRAL FACEBOOK thing recently where jimmy crack kimmel posted a bunch of videos of children being told by their parents that all their halloween candy was gone. it was funny (seriously, no matter how hard i tried, i smiled) and cruel and popular. but cruel. i don't know why this sort of thing results in smiles. it pisses me off, it's ignorant. my race of superior beings is launching missiles at this moment, and i may only call them off because it would also impact our red panda population. and hurt my daughter, who when i tried to pretend there would be no xmas because i have no money she said, ok, whatever, you're a dean, you won't shut up about it, so i get it, LOL.
speaking of, i don't even know how to articulate what my life is right now. it's exhilarating only because it's so exhausting. but between school and this new job and having a kid in high school and for some strange reason a lot of severe pain somewhere in the back center of my body that makes me wake up in sweats every morning at 330 am, i feel like i should search the back yard for a discarded cocoon, how little i recognize myself anymore. there are linkages to what i was, all my fears and desires and regrets that sometimes crop up during the day, and i wonder if i am the alien or the human, or if i have a choice. i still ache and cannot ever say here what it is i want to say, but it floods into my normal life, so much that it even gets into my academic papers. i got off on a tangent on my latest final and wrote the following:
It was on a drive to a fishing trip, and he recounted growing up and noticing how much harder Mexican immigrants worked the irrigation wheels in his small town, and that even though they were inferior in the classroom, they were superior at manual labor. His ability to couch his prejudice within the guise of a compliment proved so effective that for years I bought into this choice he presented me. As a child of two cultures, I could embrace either one and choose its exclusive symbolic promise.
i told you i'm an alien.