Friday, February 7, 2014

Auto Pilot

Rarely am I truly surprised about the honesty that spews forth from my mouth when I’m asked a question and caught with my guard down. Such an incident occurred this past week. Now, I’m not going to identify my inquisitor but I will give you my answer and his question just as he posed it to me.
            There were six of us in the garage, I was puffing on a nice cigar and had just taken my leathers off and set them on the back of a chair to dry from the pissing down rain outside. This is when one member of the gang looks up from his beer and says “Skip, how do you compare yourself today to when you were a kid.”
            “I’m sixteen years past my expiration date.” I answer without giving much thought to the question as I fold myself into the chair and stretch my legs out so they are closer to the kerosene heater in an attempt to dry my pants off.
            What followed was the sound of several people saying “What the hell does that mean?” I looked up from my cigar and realized half the people were staring at me, one was grabbing the clicker for the television in an attempt to turn the volume down while another walked to the fridge and started grabbing beers for everyone. The last person pulled out a foldable chair and sat down and stared at me. I scratched my head, puffed my cigar and said what I’ve been saying most of my life.
            “You see, when I was a kid I always knew certain facts about my life. One of those facts was that I would travel the world. Another fact was that I’d be in the Navy. And a third fact was that I’d be dead by the time I’m thirty, right now I’m forty-six so in my twisted Polish way of thinking, I’m sixteen years past my expiration date.”
            One gentleman set his beer down, lit a smoke and said “Just because you believed something as a kid doesn’t mean it will come true in your life.”
            “Look man,” then I realized I was addressing everyone “Okay, guys, to me my beliefs I had as a child, not all of them mind you, but some of them… like me knowing one day I would own a Harley. That one day I would travel around the world and also serve in the Navy…” I paused and was immediately peppered with more questions. When this happened I turned my brain off and just went on auto pilot. I had other things to think about other than answers of who and what I am and how I became the way I am.
            Well, to me it was mind numbing. Many years ago I came to terms with myself and who I am and I put to rest my past just so that I could have a piece of mind about my present and hope for my future. Once I managed to do that, which was much easier than it sounds but extremely rough to actually walk away from the trash of one’s past and leave it sitting in a soon to be desolate and lonely world of the ones history. I managed to pull this remarkable feat off with few hic-ups. The freedom from the bondage of a youth filled with misunderstandings, pain both self inflicted and inflicted by others, angst, sadness, anger, hatred and pure rebellious spirit is an amazing feeling. Although, I’m not sure if I would have been able to perform this minor miracle of human growth if it had not been for factors beyond my control and without the assistance and patience of others in my life: in fact I know I would not have been able to succeed like I have.
            As my mouth moved in answer to the questions and my auto-pilot flipped through its many files of historical fictional facts for my mouth to deliver the answers, my primary mental processing had moved on to another file. My “Why” file. It is where I store questions I want, need and HAVE to eventually have answered in the course of my existence. This particular evening I placed a new question into the “Why” file. The question is “Why and how did I manage to live past my expiration date?”
            Sure I have plenty of answers but none of them feel quite right to me. I’ve been exploring the events and actions of the past sixteen years of my life and I realized that while I lived at least two full lifetimes of adventures and shenanigans by the time I was thirty, all of that pales in comparison to what has happened over the past sixteen years. It all started fourteen years ago when my daughter was born and I became responsible for the life of something I had a hand in creating. Which is one of the reasons why I believe I am still here so long after my self imposed expiration date. Yes, I know my offspring is only fourteen which puts my age at thirty-two when she was born, but you have to understand, for over five years prior to my child’s birth, my wife and I had been going to weekly fertility treatments. (Maybe I’ll write about that someday.) So, for all my mathematical fact checkers, I and my bride were three years into fertility treatments when I believe I should have died.
            Now, some of you may say that performing acts like giving daily shots in some persons butt in order to trick that person’s body into thinking they are fertile and have their ovaries release some eggs just so some lady with a syringe filled with my DNA can inject it into said body parts in a sterile room with five other people is a pretty hopeful act.
            To which I say, “Sort of but it’s not even half as romantic as you may think. After all, how many times must a person be left alone in a cramped bathroom with out of date porn just so they can become a father?” My answer to my own question…”Once is a hundred times to many and a million times more embarrassing then being run naked through the streets of New York.”
            In my mind I’m not sure if my family is why I’ve outstayed my welcome or not. I’d like to think it is but sometimes I just don’t know. Maybe I’m not finished learning and growing into what I’m supposed to become. Maybe there are still some dreams of an eight year old Skip that are still repressed but I’m on a course to fulfill. Or, and this is a good possibility, I’m just a long forgotten character in the great and epic tale of humanity whose very existence is due to the fact the manufacture of the tale has forgotten about some of the cast and crew in the novel of humanity. (I don’t think this is true but I like the thought of it. Imagine, an absentee landlord of the universe… creepy good chills are running up and down my spine just thinking about it.)
            All of this and more passed through my miniscule skull filled with even less gray matter than an ant in the course of a few minutes. When I finally gave up chasing the rabbits of my life down long lost holes of history in my brain I realized my mouth was still moving and they were still listening. I tuned in to what I was saying… apparently I was re-telling a long forgotten tale of riding dirt bikes, stealing cigarettes, cigars and beer from various friends parents and then sharing them in the woods when we weren’t tearing up sand dunes, mud pits or exploring the mysteries of the young ladies who seemed to hang around us when they weren’t sitting in rooms talking about us. (Yes, I know they did this because I have sisters who did this to their guy pals when they were young.)
            When I stopped talking everyone went back to chitting and chatting about this and that. I finished my cigar and stared blankly at the television. On the flat-screen box men and women were traversing swamps in search of ancient amphibians. The humans had ill intent towards the lizards… and vice versa. I quietly rooted for the amphibians and then let my mind wander back to my own Jurassic period in search of answers.

            Have a great week.

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