Now I don't want to get off on a rant here, but parenting is the most important job on the planet next to keeping Gary Busey off the nations's highways.
And the reason parenting is becoming increasingly crucial is that we now live in a world that is more f***ed up than Peter O'Toole on his birthday.
You know I used to scoff at the art of parenting. When I was single I was walking down the street one day in New York City and I spotted a guy with one baby in a carriage wailing like a siren, and another one master-blasted on his back in a holster; he was feeding both of them a combination of Cheerios, Zwieback crackers, and Juicy Juice from a Baggie he had Scotch-taped to his chest hair. All the while he was pullin' baby wipes out of a belly pack like a coked-up baccarat dealer going through a four-deck shoe. And I swore I would never end up like that. Well, you know something?
A couple of years later I did become a parent and guess what? I'm still not like that loser. And for that matter, I still don't have any chest hair.
But I do have a firm grasp of the fact that the most important job I'll ever do is that of parenting. It's that simple, folks. Kids are the sponge, you are the Supersoaker. You know it seems that teachers, friends, and neighbors alike know where a childs's behavior is coming from. But often the parents themselves are in denial. I remember once my kid got in trouble for saying to his teacher, "What time is f***ing recess?" and I remember thinking, "Now where would he f***ing pick up something like that?" But so be it ... you never did that. You're a good boy, Holden, it was a joke. Be it swearing or loving or hating, we undeniably impact our children. So I propose the following: Make parenting illegal without a license.
It would go something like this. A man who wanted to have a child would have to prove he was responsible, earned enough money for food and clothes for the kid, and would commit enough of his time and wisdom to assure the rest of us that the kid wouldn't end up in a Texas bell tower with a high-powered rifle and a grudge anytime soon. As for the woman, same deal - but she has to also promise not to make him wear dresses while she hems them, the pins sticking his tender calves, the humiliation slowly destroying his young will to be the world's funniest comedian ... um, sorry.
And then there's the main reason, the definitive reason, the sadly serious reason that you should have to be licensed to have a child. There seems to be a shocking rise in the incidence of child abuse on this planet and I think it augurs for the end of the world. I understand a man's inhumanity to man. Adults are violent amorphous blobs that careen around the planet. Occasionally they brush up against another individual and hey, their life must end. All right, I think we all dig that transaction. We are big boys and girls and we dig our own graves. But when did we start bleeding it into the innocent?
You got to promise me if you're watching me tonight and you ever get to the point in your life where you are so puzzled, confused, and frightened that you feel that the only way out is to abuse or molest a little kid, well then, you have got to kill yourself. You have to lean into the strike zone and take one for the team.
Listen, in a age where a child can be left unsupervised in a trailer with "Beavis and Butt-head" on the TV and a book of matches within easy reach, a license to procreate starts to make some sense. If you're still unconvinced, let me put it to you another way: Kato Kaelin is a father.
All right? Our society is increasingly made up of people whose parents bailed out on them. You want to do something about it?
Don't bail out on your kids. How's that for a simple can-do? Rise up out of the mire of your own narcissism and get selfless, for chrissake. You want a better world?
The seeds for it are right there in your own house. Be good to those tiny humans lying there on the living room floor watching cartoons, and be good to your kids too, give them a future and they'll return the favor by giving you one in spades, my friend.
If you can stare between the stars into the blackness at heaven and say with a smile on your face, "I'll do anything and everything to be a good parent" then you're ready. Almost. Get yourself a copy of The Lion King. Now you're ready.
Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.
Miller, Dennis. The Rants. NY: Doubleday. 1996.
O'Toole was a notorious alcoholic before
achieving sobriety (back)
shoe: a dealing box designed to hold several decks of playing cards (WWWebster Dictionary) (back)
Holden is Miller's son, named for Holden Caufield, the protagonist of J.D. Salinger's famous coming-of-age novel, The Catcher in the Rye. (back)
augurs: to foretell events by omens (WWWebster Dictionary) (back)
Writers from Dowell's ATL135:004, Fall '98 class: