Recently, a friend mentioned that she had heard that people were calling me a pervert behind my back. I thought this was a bit odd seeing as how I openly talk about this, oh, on my blog, podcast, speakings, in my books and on every other social media platform I can get my hands on - but apparently these people don’t pay much attention to me minus the rumors.
I wanted to tell her to go back and tell them, “Yeah, he is. And your point is?”
See, the way I see it is - why not? Why not tell people that we like it when someone puts their mouth on our private parts? Why not tell people that we like rough sex? Or dirty talk? Or sucking on feet (fucking ew)? Or gay sex? Or masturbation? Or sex in public bathrooms? I mean, maybe my perspective is a bit skewed but almost every single person I have ever met is into one form or another of sexuality so why do we all have to pretend like it’s something that we all don’t like.
Well because we are still fighting that social stigma that implies that any sex outside of a committed relationship without the intent of expressing undying love or attempting to make a baby is “dirty.” Which, I’m sure goes without saying, is fucking ridiculous. And whether you announce your fetishes on your blog (we all have em) or whether you keep that secret to yourself makes no difference because we are all inherently sexual beings. It’s why you’re here. See, your father was so stoked on your mom’s vagina that he had sex with it until he came inside of her.
But nothing about what I just said is a lie. And what that demonstrates is that even your parents (ew) are sexual beings and you sitting here reading this is the end result of that sexuality. Everyone you see walking down the street as all here because their father was so stoked on their mom’s vagina that he got an erection and shot semen inside of her. That makes you feel weird to read, right? But why? It’s all true. And you like sex, or at least the idea of sex. You like fantasizing about sex, right? So why do we all have to pretend like it’s some weird secret? Everyone is sexual and it’s about time we all get over this shit.
As long as it’s between two consenting adults and no one is being lied to - more power to you. To us. Sex isn’t bad, naughty, dirty, or perverted. It is healthy, it’s fun, it’s free, it’s what got you here, and it is the human prime directive, - and as adults, we should no longer allow anyone to feel guilted by outdated tradition or shamed by bullshit social constructs into thinking that sex is wrong, dirty, or unhealthy. It is one of the most primal and genuine acts that we, as humans, get to express so I say let’s take it back. That word. Let’s own it and proudly profess say to those who attempt to shame us, “Yeah, am I. And your point is?… “
I watched the red tail lights zoom away from our house and fade into the evening darkness. I looked back at my mother who was holding herself up as if she was holding down the dining room table and I could see she was doing her best to steady the tears from falling.
"Mom, just tell him to leave and never come back."
"Oh honey, I wish it was that simple."
"We’re better off without him."
Or at least that’s how I think the conversation went.
Years later, I overheard a teacher say to Mr. Gove, our middle school Dean, “Well, he probably looks and acts like that because there is no father at home.”
And as a 13 year old budding punk rock kid, what I wanted to say - no, what I wanted to YELL was, “THIS is what happens when you watch drug deals from the back seat of a car. THIS is what happens when someone you trust abuses you. THIS is what happens when you are forced to watch addiction ruin a family.” I wanted to walk up to that teacher, that educator of young minds, and say, “If you think this is bad, imagine what I would be like if he was around long enough to do some serious damage.” But I didn’t because I was too young and I didn’t have enough practice at making my thoughts into effective phrases.
But now I’m a grown man, and after years of practice, this grown ass man would love the opportunity to sit that teacher down and say, “What you didn’t seem to understand is that what you didn’t find appropriate behavior for a young boy wasn’t a result of a lack of parenting - it was a result of bad parenting. Not because it came from a man or a woman, but because of ineffective mentoring skills or a lack thereof.”
What I would love to tell her is that some kids turn out BETTER without the influence of an abusive, alcoholic, unaffectionate dead beat. Some kids turn out more compassionate and caring and empathetic and loving because of the LACK of a BAD influence.
Two parents isn’t always the solution. A “man’s” or “woman’s” touch isn’t always needed. What IS needed is effective parenting and caring mentors. People who take the time to explain to you the why’s and how’s of the world - and if that’s from one mom or two grandparents or two dads, who gives a shit. As long as that kid is given the building blocks to help make the world a slightly better place, well then that is all that matters.
That night, as I watched my father steal my moms car once again, I looked at my mother and didn’t see pain, but strength. Strength to do the right thing for her child despite the lack of support from relatives and in spite of the asshole who continued to wreck the life and family she so desperately tried to build.
And sure, I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to understand the scars on my heart, who put them there and why, but the difference is - I’m trying. And I know that every time I write a book or speak to a crowd of people about my insecurities - that’s my mom. That is my mom’s influence. One that told me through tear-soaked eyes - do your best to make this world a little better.
And I’m trying. I’m still trying.
In spite of him… but because of her.
Twelve years ago, the five of us woke up in a a tiny crappy hotel room that we all were sharing while we recorded the new Arma Angelus record. I slept on the floor next to the bathroom. I woke up with everyone stepping over me to shower - I was always designated as last because apparently I took too long with my morning rituals. When I walked out of the shower the television was on in the room as the dudes packed up what they needed for the day. Dan said, “A plane crashed into the World Trade Center.” Not knowing the extent of the damage, I said, “Oh, no way. That’s crazy.”
The five of us hopped in the van and headed toward the studio outside of Boston where we were recording our new album, “When Sleeplessness Is Rest From Nightmares.” When we arrived, we immediately turned on the television to find that a second plane had crashed as well.
Our story is like many others. Huddled around a television in complete shock feeling vulnerable, terrified, angry, and sad all at once. For some odd reason, I pulled out my disposable camera and clicked a picture of the television we were all watching. Very faintly, it shows one of the towers still standing.
Filed away in one of my many scrapbooks, I look at this picture often. Placed underneath is my boarding pass from the day before. American Airlines in Boston - the same airline and the same airport where the planes were taken and it reminds me of how quickly life can be taken away simply based upon timing.
Since then, I am constantly beating myself up over how well I am using my time here. It is a struggle to constantly motivate myself to become more and better than I was the day before but if anything good came out of that day in September, it should be a reminder to all of us to live as well and as hard as we possibly can.
And I believe the best way to honor their legacy is not by wasting the time we still have but by creating, exploring, and raging harder than ever because someday our light will go out and it would be a tragedy if we didn’t live as hard and as genuine and as deliberate as possible.