It’s Been a Year

 

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida.

It’s one of those places now that, just by mentioning its name, evokes vivid, horrifying images for us all.

One year ago today, that school lived its worst nightmare.

An eighteen-year-old former student showed up on campus with a semiautomatic rifle and shot seventeen people to death; fourteen of them, students.

Most of us can’t possibly imagine what that experience was like; to helplessly watch the surreal scene of a gunman randomly killing people, killing your friends. 

And you wait, paralyzed in utter shock and terror, for your turn.

Can you imagine?

And today, all the surviving students, teachers, families and members of the community who have lived with this horrific tragedy every day for the last year, will commemorate this anniversary by honoring the memory of those who were lost, and by renewing their commitment to putting an end to the senseless violence that forever changes the lives of all who are affected by it.

Which, incidentally, is all of us.

 

So then, let’s all honor the memory of those who died tragically a year ago. Let’s remind ourselves of how precious the people in our lives are, and how we need to let them know that every chance we get, because the time could come when we run out of chances.

I was listening to a man on the radio this morning recalling his experience that day. He was at a Starbucks just blocks away from the school when the shootings happened. He clearly remembers all the parents’ phones ringing at once. He remembers the horrified screams, the panic and chaos.

And he remembers one mother’s tearful regret over not telling her daughter goodbye that morning before she left for school.

Remind the people you love that you love them. Today.

 

And let’s also honor the memory of those who died by letting our lawmakers know very clearly that there is no longer any excuse for weak and inadequate gun control laws. This insanity has to stop, and they have the power to make it happen, if they can just stop kissing the arse of the National Rifle Association.

Let’s all speak out. The Stoneman students are; let’s support them. Let’s join them.

Today, we are all Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

 

#MSDStrong

“WAP2”

 

As I’ve said before on this blog, I believe that it’s time that we men do a serious reassessment of how we look at, and talk about, and treat women.

Apparently, judging by their recent ad that generated so much controversy, Gillette feels the same way. I salute them for putting the message out there, that men can be better than they are in several ways, including their behavior towards women. I hope more companies follow suit.

Guys, you know we’ve always excused our treatment of women with a shrug, a smile and a Whaddya expect? We’re guys!

Well, if you’ve been paying attention the last couple of years, you’ve surely noticed that women are up to here with that. They’ve made it very clear the way it’s always been will no longer be tolerated. And they are taking a stand for the respect that is due them in both their professional and personal relationships.

So, I just want you to know, ladies: I’ve been listening, and I am trying to change my mindset, but it’s an almost 60-year-old mindset, and the process is slow.

Because, man, I see a lot of beautiful women where I work, and it’s easy to look at them just as bodies, and not as complete people, with actual lives. And not just at work either. At the mall, at the fast food restaurant, anywhere there are women, basically.

So, to help me, I’ve created this little acronym, WAP2, to remind me that Women Are People, Too. I haven’t fully absorbed this lesson yet, but maybe, at some point, I’ll get there. I’m about as far away from perfect as it gets, believe me, but I am trying to make some improvements here and there.

Like the Nobel laureate Bob Dylan once said, “The times, they are a-changin’.” For the better, in this case. Women are finding the courage to speak out against men’s disgraceful, demeaning treatment of them, and it’s been a long time coming.

Fellas, time for us to act like men, not boys. Men respect women. Remember, WAP2.

From Your Little Boy

 

You idiot! Why are you such an idiot?

How stupid can you get?

Shit, talkin’ to you is like talkin’ to a child, sometimes.

You cotton-pickin’, half-witted idiot!

 

I know that, over the course of our life together, you said many kind, loving words to me. I know you loved me.

I loved you, too. I admired you. I looked up to you. I wanted to be just like you.

And I hung on to every single word you said to me.

Including all the ones at the beginning of this post.

The ones that sliced deep into my heart. The ones that told me I was a failure in your eyes. The ones that have haunted me ever since, and I still struggle to forget.

As far as I’m concerned, I am an idiot.

And so, for the rest of your life, I couldn’t look at you without imagining you looking back at me and wondering how you ended up with such a stupid son.

 

I never told you this. I couldn’t.

I guess I thought it was something I had to just get over. Maybe it is.

But, dammit, it’s tough. Even with the memory of how good you were to me. (And you were.) Even with the memories of all the good times we had together. (And we did.)

You’ve been gone nineteen years, but even if you were here now, I probably still couldn’t tell this to you.

So, this is as close as I’ll ever get, I guess. Now that I’m nearly 60.

On some level, I forgive you. I know you were angry or frustrated when you spoke these words to me.

But, I could never convince myself you didn’t mean them, anyway.

Shouldn’t be so freakin’ sensitive, right? Dads say this $#!t to their sons all the time.

 

At the end of all this rambling, I guess all I really wanted to say is, I wish I had told you.

So you could apologize. And we could embrace. And it could be behind us. And everything would be okay.

But I guess I couldn’t do that right, either. Sorry.