Thursday, December 27, 2007

sharing everything by doing nothing

"i'm so smart its almost scary. i guess i'm a child progeny."

"most children are."

"... nothing."

"people think it must be fun to be a super genius, but they don't realize how hard it is to put up with all the idiots in the world."

"isn't your pants zipper supposed to be in the front?"

calvin and hobbes is one of the world's purest, glittering shards of truth that has been offered up, ever. i don't give a shit that it's a seven year old boy who talks to his only friend, a stuffed tiger that only has eyes for calvin. or that bill watterson the creator has long since retired it from print.

it's an epitaph of reality through the eyes of a naiive but vividly realistic child, who's mind is the only tool he has to make sense of a garbled, pop-culture world.

i grew up reading these comics, in the newspaper and eventually, in the paperback books my mother would buy for my older brother and me once we found out they existed. it was the one thing that she had no problem forking over money for, even though they were simply nothing more than cartoons. it was an investment in me that she didn't know she was making, an equity that has stuck with me over the years, supplying me relief from my reeling mind. she liked the periods of silence in the car or at home when we would become immersed in calvin and hobbes two dimensional life, silently congratulating herself on triumphing over our constant bickering and creative insults we would throw at one another. it was a symbiotic relationship, the comics and my mother, and we collected them until watterson stopped printing the books when i was in the eighth grade.
i didn't understand alot of the material in the comics, though, even though i thought i did. but i also thought i was somewhat of a superhero, some sort of a golden child that had powers beyond what humans thought possible, like when i thought i could reach a jacket at the top of my closet and instead of finding (oh, i don't know) a footstool or even a fucking box, i tried to stand on a lengthwise framed glass picture of winnie the pooh, and ended up getting five stitches in between my first and second toes. or like when i ate a thermometer underneath the kitchen table. and even though my brother martin was classified as an actual genius, reading from the dictionary at age two and eventually being segregated from his peers into the "gifted" trailers because the standard for regular sixth-grade students fell way below what marty was able to do in his preschool years, i knew that someone had made a mistake in their judment. it was me. they just didn't test me for geniosity because it was obviously too blatently obvious. the whole family knew that, knew i was destined for greatness. and, here i am. obviously.

i can say that the time we spent with calvin was really some of the only times i remember getting along with my brother. marty and i were different beings, were placed on two different school buses for our appointments on earth. he was an actual genius, and i actually thought i was a genius. way different. he wasn't really a sociable boy, either, and awkwardly stumbled through sports my father so desperately wanted him to play well, his goggle-glasses making him a blinding example of failed youth organizations in left field. he inherited my mother's genes, making him tall and lanky, with no actual hand eye coordination unless it had something to do with a nintendo and hours to waste. he was cut out to read books and formulate complicated equations in the quiet and non-conflictual haven of his room, not look like kermit the frog running away from the ball down the basketball court to an unpopulated position. it wasn't until he found, in his junior year of high school, he like to row on the school's crew team that my father and him were able to settle the longstanding rift of a father longing to have a superstar athelete son. it may not have been football, but it was a competition and therefore acceptable to my father as some sport they could share together.

i, on the other hand, liked to pretend that i was a singer and dance around the living room like the diva i was to become. i played with my friends as much as i could, because i liked to be away from my suspiciously too normal household, and also because they would usually have the sugary cereals my mother refused to buy us. my parents enrolled me in some sports, and i bet i could've actually done well if i actually had given a shit. i never saw the point of chasing a ball down a court or a field and when i was chastised by coaches for being lazy i would wait until they turned around and squash their heads in between my thumb and middle finger. they deserved it, for talking to me like that. i guess they didn't know i was going to be their president one day. their time would come. i enjoyed to draw and paint and write in my time alone, and opted for ballet, the non-contactual storybook romance sport. most of my middle and high school years were spent reading about ballet and looking at pictures of ballerinas and drawing portraits of dancers. i was also bulimic, but that's not as sweet in comparitive evidence between youth and ballet. regardless, i eventually came to the conclusion that i would be the world's first superstar ballerina destined for world domination. i preferred being outside planning my ultimate takeover to being holed up in my room with my atari game system and no imagination, until i hit my teenage years, which i have dubbed of late as the medieval period.

in the years to come, my brother and i never found a path to lay straight on... he would tell my parents if he smelled smoke on me and i told everyone at school that he was so skinny because he was anorexic. he would correct me in front of people so that i knew where he stood (way over me) and later i would kick him in the leg so hard he would hold back tears. we did shit for the sole purpose of pissing one another off, and our quiet time with calvin and hobbes was now simply a distant memory of a forgotton friendship.

i have always been wary of my brother, first because i don't understand him, and second, because i feel in alot of ways, i may never. his intelligence is still off the charts, and mine is having a margarita at a mite bit above average. his life has been spent in libraries and smells of the dog-eared pages he's devoured in his quest to doctordum. mine has been spent daydreaming about what i will one day become, even though it has brought more questions. he will be married by the end of the new year, and i don't know if i'll ever find someone i'd be able to stand for eternity. but i have come to one conclusion.

i spent much of my life comparing myself to him. soon after i realized i may have jumped the gun on my intelligence, it was apparent that my penchant for ballet was nowhere in the ballpark of importance as his booksmarts. my grades were mediocre and it was fine. if he got a B in a class he was grounded. i concluded that i was not a genius as i first thought... i was actually just average in that department, and it was as if my worth plummeted to the ground. marty was expected to get straight As. i was simply regarded as never being able to. and even though it was me who came to that conclusion, without verbal help from anyone saying so, everyone's actions led to one simple point -

if you aren't smart, you really aren't worth a shit.

but. i will say. in the last couple of years that i have been alone, i have thought about this until no end. one year i came home from college and i was looking in my brother's closet for a tie to wear (because i was soooo concerned with fashion) and came across a bad version of a michael godard painting, with what i presumed to be an olive at the bottom of a perspectiveless martini glass. i asked my mother if it was hers, and she half-snorted and said, "no, it's your brother's. not much of an artist, huh?"

maybe, just maybe, could martin have been jealous of me when i was young? growing up drawing and writing and dancing and singing, being able to play sports when i didn't care about making anyone happy that i was doing so, getting by with mediocre grades because people knew i was an "artist". his awful use of color and inability to make a realistic martin glass glisten in the light above it told me more about my brother than he has and maybe ever will. yes, i'm sure he's happy that he's a doctor and that he worked his ass of to get there doing shit he's done all his life, but maybe when he see me he's jealous that i never did any of that at all, that i make under the poverty level doing something that i love, that i come home with black hair and tattoos because i don't ever want be someone in corporate america.

marty and i have this wierd bond of good and bad, of smarts versus arts... i've wanted to be him in all his genius glory and he's wanted to be me in my arts influenced psychosis, but when it boils down to it, the only thing we can agree on is that we are both smart enough to enjoy calvin and hobbes. who knew that psychology for the siblings soul lives inside the 2 x 3 captions in a dog-eared paperback comic book?

1 comment:

  1. I love how your lips will never reveal the brutal honesty that mine will but your pen knows no fear. I do not have your literary eloquence, this is why I rely on my lips. Your pen is much more beautiful.....if I may say so


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