Kids are loud. They just are. Once I got called a little shit by someone’s mother on a field trip because I was so damned loud and apparently didn’t know how to act. I don’t remember doing anything other than having fun playing video games. They were the big coin-operated cabinets you see in the movies. I have to explain this because you may have grown up playing Angry Birds on your mom’s phone.
Maybe I’m loud by nature. My family gatherings have always been a cacophony of competing conversations consisting (jesus, bob) of crude remarks (c-c-c-combo breaker) and hilarious anecdotes that increase in volume until we’ve surpassed Sepultura and jet engines in decibel level.
I’m still haunted by a date at Outback Steakhouse where a couple at the table in front of me asked to change booths because I was such an “obnoxious redneck.” It bothers me more that it was two dudes, because that clashes with my self-image of being some kind of hero for the downtrodden (even though that’s a security blanket I pull over the body that houses this poisoned mind).
After ruminating on it for years, I’ve concluded that I must have said something that sounded like a slur but wasn’t. I’ve considered that it might have been my boisterous excitability combined with my accent that led the gentleman (singular, because his partner was sitting quietly while he flailed at the worried waitstaff) to believe that I was leading some kind of two-person Klan meeting, but he sounded just as Southern and flamboyant as I do.
I should have bought him a drink.
By these powers combined, my children are loud. They are rambunctious and impulsive and often berserk. I sound like some sort of odd mansnake following them around hushing, “Shhhhhh. Shhhhh. Guys. Guys. Shhhh. Shhhhhhhhhh.”
(I should start doing it in a Cobra Commander voice, one of the few impressions I can actually do, or at least I think I can. It probably sounds like Michael Scott doing an impression, which is what all my impressions sound like. I once performed Bane relentlessly with my hands cupped over my mouth until my coworkers stared at me, silently waiting for the mercy of my exit from that part of the building. It will get funny again if I keep doing it, right? Seth MacFarlane, you are the King of Lies.)
The hipsters recoil at our presence. The moms give me a knowing smile and nod. Yes. Yes, what a good man. The old men chuckle, the old ladies are too old for that shit and the childfree go home and make rageposts about how some guy’s kids ruined their shopping trip they just fucking ruined it.
Yesterday we went to the dentist to get Cora’s semiannual checkup. I brought Bea along, on the advice of my dental hygienist, to get her accustomed to the ordeal. The girls were as good as they could possibly be (a disclaimer that includes playing tug of war with their scarves, instigation of crimes against magazines, and compulsive dancing and seat-switching along with some light grappling), but I was also glad that the waiting room was full of smiling young women, including a mother who kept grinning and whispering something to her adolescent son.
I hope it was something like, “Look at how patient the man is, how he speaks to them so kindly,” and not, “Haha that jackass has no fucking idea what he is doing.”
It is sort of a weird personal fable that I think she was even talking about us at all. She might have been talking about the weather or asking him when we were finally going to get Kony. “Son, you need to remember that this shit is about ethics in videogames journalism.”
“Christ, Mom, those memes are so old. why do you always have to try to embarrass me at the dentist?”
“Sorry, bae bae. I’m so wrapped up in this thesis I can’t get my head straight. When I’m the dean of Meme College, we’re going to put all this behind us.”
Gina often refers to the girls as the elephants when they’re running around upstairs. My house was a Kent Arnold Home, which means something to people around here, namely that Kent Arnold is a land developer who weaseled his way onto the jury in the infamous miscarriage of justice known as West Memphis Three trial (Google that and him and go wild, if your heart so desires) and he has filled the bustling city of Jonesboro, population 77,000, with beautiful little cheap-ass homes.
I would catalog its defects in loving detail but I don’t want to get sued. The relevant one is that the thin, popping sheets of plywood that make up the top floor resonate like a drum when the pitter patter of tiny amplified feet, which support 30-40 pounds of little girl, convince me that either Lars Ulrich snuck over for an impromptu jam session or someone dropped a safe down the stairwell.
We’re Talbot Loud and Talbot Proud, which is really the patriarchal gentrification of everything Henderson. My mom’s family is the loud one. I’m always talking about the Talbot Rage™, but once again I don’t recall seeing any person who was born with the Talbot surname flip shit until my generation rolled along. Come to think of it, that part wasn’t even so much Henderson. I have an inkling it may have snaked its way through maiden names for generations but I don’t have any evidence to back it up. See, part of me would love to blame it on women (pay no attention to the misogynist behind the curtain, I am the great and powerful Bob), but it’s probably nature across the board, with a whole lot of nurture dumped on top of it.
So the big shit has little shits. Tough shit, I guess. I hope they can keep it down when I’m forced to throw together an impromptu fallout shelter under the stairs. All that shushing is going to give our position away to the raiders. You know, the roving bands of brigands that will comb the wastes after Donnie tweets at China for the last time.
I’m going to give you guys until next week to figure out a way Bernie can still win. We’re going to be forced to eat the cat and I usually can’t get Cora to finish her tater tots. Gina can’t lactate enough for the four of us. Wait, can she?
THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO FIND OUT.