Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Public Apology: Dear Step-Nephew

Public ApologyDear step-nephew,

I'm sorry for telling you to suck my dick at Thanksgiving three years ago.

You were fifteen at the time, I think, or maybe sixteen. Needless to say, the expression is an inappropriate one for me to use in that situation. I was 35, after all.

We were in the kitchen at our mutual aunt's house in Boston. I'd just arrived, after a long drive with my wife and my kid and my mother. You and your folks had gotten there the day before. We were both up from New York, but I hadn't seen you in a few years. Not since you were much shorter, and much less opinionated about socio-economic matters. Or at least less colorful in the expression of your opinions.

We were catching up, making the sort of small talk I thought pretty normal for a pair of extended family members who only see each other every few years at Thanksgiving.

"So you're in high school now," I said. "Cool."

"I see you've grown your hair long," I said. "Cool."

I probably used the word "cool" too much. And you probably thought I was trying too hard to relate or whatever. I don't often talk to teenagers these days. But I remember being one. And I was enjoying how fully you lived up to type. The bored, disaffected tone of voice, the skull with snakes coming out the eyes on your t-shirt, the put-upon half-sneer in which you held your upper lip. You were totally awesome.

And, I'm sure, totally miserable, trapped in Boston with your parents for four days instead of smoking pot with your friends and masturbating in the privacy of your own bathroom. I know I would have been.

Still, I was taken aback when-after I asked and you told me where you lived in Brooklyn and you asked and I told you where I lived in Manhattan-that sneer curled a bit higher and you called me "fucking bourgeois scum."

I'm not sure exactly what the appropriate response would have been. Maybe a more responsible adult would have gone and told your parents. Perhaps, in times past, someone in my position would have simply smacked you across the face, or marched you over to the sink and washed your mouth out with soap.

But thinking back on it, it was less the language that offended me than it was the accusation. (Bourgeois?! Moi?!) I guess I thought (without really thinking, of course-again, it had been a long drive) that cursing back at you would send a message. My knee-jerk intent was to shock you, to prove that I wasn't too old, or too stodgy, or too (God forbid) bourgeois to use bad words.

I know better now. You were at a difficult age. And "suck my dick, you little punk" is really never the right thing to say to one's nephew. Especially at Thanksgiving.


· Dear President Clinton
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· Dear Robert Sean Leonard

15 Comments / Post A Comment

KarenUhOh (#19)

Don't be startled if Chris Hansen leaps out of the turkey next Thanksgiving.

brianvan (#149)

This makes you a sex offender in 16 states.

Dickdogfood (#650)

If you're 15/16 and you can identify a bourgeois scum colony in Manhattan just by address, it's quite possible you're bourgeois scum yourself. Maybe?

NicFit (#616)

Shut up, Brooklyn

Fredrick (#268)

I would have just laughed, probably pretty hard.

KenWheaton (#401)

You should apologize. You should apologize for not smacking him in the face AND washing his mouth out with soap.

jaimealyse (#647)

Um, I think that was AWESOME. No apology necessary.

HE was at a difficult age?

meerkat (#228)

Your response seems totally appropriate. The look on his face must have been something to treasure.

Clare (#516)

What neighborhood did you live in? I need to know so I can make a judgment.

wiilliiaamm (#225)

This bourgeois scum would have bent him over the kitchen table and threatened to sodomize him.

But then I have stabilizing meds to subdue that instinct.

BoHan (#29)

No one need apologize for anything ever said to a relative at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Otherwise, the Internet would choke on its own words.

SeaBassTian (#281)

"I’m not sure exactly what the appropriate response would have been." I don't know about apropos, but I can tell you that I would have burst out laughing right there on the spot. And then I'd have thanked the little punk for brightening an otherwise mundane holiday.

narnio (#38)

this is why i believe in the power of the awl. this post in particular.

amy (#824)

Once my kids are teenagers I'm inviting you over to put them in their place. More please, Dave!

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