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Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Nut Falls Far from the Tree

2:40 AM.

Our son is late. Waaaaay late.

He always wakes us when he gets in, just so we know. But now it's the middle of the night, the lights are on and his bedroom empty. Dial his phone, straight to voice. Text and nothing in return. It's not time to panic, but it's damn close.

The problem is this: he's nothing like I was at 18. This nut fell far from the tree. If I was late, I was up to shenanigans, I was thinking up a 100 lies to cover tracks. I squeezing in a few more hours of fun into the night at the expense of my parents' sanity. I was just late.

My son, he's honest Abe. Something's wrong.

It's 2:50 AM and my wife and I are staring out the window. Our stomachs twisted, throats tight. Fear sits like a chunk of black ice. This is the one, I think. I don't dare say it out loud. This is the night everything changes. I've had a good life -- a great one -- but the legs are getting kicked out tonight. Thoughts about hospitals and twisted metal. Thoughts about getting jumped at the fairgrounds, thoughts about getting caught on the wrong side of town. Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts...

This is the one.

At 2:55 AM, we find his license plate number and get ready to call the police, see if there's been an accident.   I look up the phone number, scan the Internet for news. I would've consulted a psychic. Just before 3:00 AM, the phone rings. I watch my wife answer it. This moment stretches out, a moment that meets a fork in the road. Her expression will tell me which path we're going down. Maybe for the rest of our lives.

It's him. He's calling from a friend's house. He fell asleep and just woke up.

The tension falls off us like dead skin. We can breathe again. We can breathe again.

But I think about all the people that were taken down the other path. And my heart breaks for them.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Unleashing the Claus

I was seven when the lie was exposed.

I was hanging out with a friend when he gave me the truth. I said he was full of crap, I know the fat man is real. How the hell are those presents getting under the tree and who's eating those cookies and drinking that milk? Huh? HUH? Those stockings aren't filling themselves. And, besides, my mom and dad say he IS real. And they don't lie.

His dad rolled into the garage, cranky after another day at the office. My friend says, "Hey, Dad. He's not real, is he."

"NO." He jerks the briefcase from the backseat, marches inside.

And it hit. Like the truth was a spear, piercing the wall of lies. I don't know what most kids experience when they get the news. Happy? Sad? All I know is that I was pissed. I'd been punished dozens of times for lying about God knows what (And I was a liar, believe you me) and now I'm finding out MY PARENTS HAVE BEEN JERKING ME AROUND FOR SEVEN YEARS!

I wouldn't support this hypocrisy, not with my kids. Imagine, year after year of telling young minds, If you just believe. Really, seriously. I mean it. He's real, Junior. You just have to believe, you just have to-- I'm sorry, what? Oh, he told you? Yeah, he's telling the truth.

He's not real.

So now I have kids. And guess what I did when they were little. I gave them presents from the fat man. I joined the fun. I filled their stockings and ate their cookies. But the first time they asked, I gave them the opportunity to explore the truth. And, for them, the landing was soft, cushy, and fun. And they still got presents from Santa.

This weekend is the FREE promo for Claus: Legend of the Fat Man. The Christmas story never heard. The facts behind Rudolph and Frosty, the red coat, jingle bells, sleighs, reindeer... EVERYTHING CHRISTMAS!

A friend read it. She said, "I thought you didn't buy into this?"

I know. I know. But it's so much fun.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Self Promoting Blows

Some are good at it. Real good.

Indie writers have to be. At least until everyone loves them, then word of mouth becomes an agent.

Let's compare.

Joe Bob goes to a party, meets some new guy. They talk sports, talk craft beer, Ford trucks or whatever the hell strikes Joe Bob's bell. Then New Guy says, See that guy over there? He points at you. It's an oyster roast, you're wearing flip-flops and a ball cap, a guy Joe Bob's seen a million times a day.

That guy, New Guy says, wrote this amazing trilogy, I'm not kidding you. I'm talking spellbound, all night. Maybe you don't read, Joe Bob, but I'm telling you I couldn't put it down. I lost a week of sleep, because of that dude. 

Joe Bob doesn't read all that much. He's got a few swallows left in the cup, so he listens some more to New Guy.

That guy is going to be famous, one day. You can say you were at the same party as him. How many times you eat oysters with a famous author? Probably get every one of those books made into a movie, probably biggest thing this summer. I heard he's signing copies later tonight, doing a reading or something.  

Joe Bob finishes his beer, figures he'll hang around. He doesn't read much, but what the hell. He heard you're awesome.

I go to a party, meet some new guy. He's nice enough, we got some things in common. Talk about baseball and fireworks. He tells a good joke.

And then I see my opening.

"Hey, did you hear that I wrote this amazing trilogy? I'm not kidding, you'll be spellbound, all night, brother. You won't put it down, you'll lose a week of sleep, it's that good. Yeah. And I wrote it. I'll sell you a copy, sign it for you, if you want. You interested? Because it's really, really good. There's, like, ten 5-star reviews on Amazon, right now. Here, look. See. This one says she lost a week of sleep, SEE? And, swear to God, hand on a stack, I don't even know her. I told you, it's good. That good.

It's that good. So, what do you say? Want to lose a week of sleep? Buddy?"

New guy never talks to me again.