Monday, April 11, 2011

Why can't you be like the neighbors' kids?

One of the people that I have literally known for decades tells me that when his father (RIP) used to be fed up with his acting out, he'd say "Why can't you be like (fill in appropriate neighbor name)'s kids?

I got it too.  Not because the neighbor's kids were so good, but because I was so bad.  I think that my parents simply wanted a normal child instead of a child descended from Old Scratch or one of the Children of the Corn.  And hey, I wasn't THAT bad.  I couldn't chant Latin phrases from the Necromancer.  Besides, I'd need a demonic chorus for that.

Often times, parents would unjustly compare us to the kid next door.  "Look at how nice Fritzy rakes his yard and how lousy YOU do it."  "Jimmy is always so nice and clean and look at YOU...grass stains and mud!!!"  "Why can't you be like them?"  Not even "MORE like them."

The truth?  I am more like the neighbor's kids than you know.

When my dad left us when I was 11, my father figure left with him.  But if I followed this example, I too would have no doubt left my wife for a younger but way less attractive model too.  For you see, as I try to recall things today (and by the way, I'm really GOOD at recalling things), I cannot remember more than one or two things my father actually taught me.  One was how to tie a necktie.  But I remember that I got so giddy at getting the Windsor knot right for the first time, I began to laugh and he let me have the back of his hand across my face.  Why couldn't HE be like my neighbor's dad?

I had relatives down the street.  My grandparents, their daughter (my aunt) and her husband and three children.  I loved my grandparents.  Worshipped them.  And I miss them to this very day.  Go back and read what I wrote about them in my first blog ( in "Clothes Make the Man" and "Mary Ponzurick".

In the other side of my grandparent's home lived my aunt, uncle and their three kids.  And to this very day, I am convinced that Aunt Helen and Uncle Mike harbored a very deep hatred for me.  Except for my cousin Carol, who gave me two gifts that I still have to this very day.  One is the gift of tying shoelaces and the other is the way that I comb my hair.  Yep, I've not changed my hairstyle since that day in the 1960's when Carol combed my hair down on my forehead and said "You look beautiful".  I almost melted in the concrete sidewalk.  My other two cousins, Carol's brother and sister, have never tried to contact me.  Ever.  But I'm sure if someone were to ask them why, they would say something like "Well, HE never tried to contact us."  No problem, guys.  I'm doing fine and I'm sure you are too.

The reason for this bit of truth is that through the backchannels, I have heard that my so-called family accuses me of telling lies and making suggestions that they aren't the best people in the world.  I sincerely hope that they will now see that I have gotten over the "suggesting" stuff and simply tell the truth.  They were far from the best.  But who isn't?

Now you may be asking yourself, why has Bob gone all postal and has begun to sling arrows and spears toward his relatives?  The truth is that they slung first.  Does that give me license to sling back?  No.  This may prompt you to ask, "so what then?"

Look, I owe my upbringing to you.  All of the friends, family and strangers who have, for better or worse, entered my life and unknowingly gave me a few examples of how to be or how not to be.  Yep, I even learned from the bad ones.  You are the ones that have taught me right from wrong.  Did it work?

It depends on who you ask.

1 comment:

  1. So this is where your last Smock blog went to. I must say though, it is quite a bit more mellow. Bob - a secrete for you. We all have family members like that. I could tell you a ton of stories about ours, especially dad's side. We were all raised pretty much the same back there Bob. How you turned out just depended on what fork in the road you took. And you my friend definitely took the right road.
    Take care


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