Saturday, August 15, 2009

Father And Son

I love my son. I think the world of him and I am eager to share in his many enthusiasms. I learned more than I care to admit about trains during the first few years of his life. I was clear on the distinction between a diesel and a steam locomotive. I even learned to call them "locomotives" or "power units." I built and dismantled miles of Brio wooden track, then HO gauge, followed by O. I contented myself with the notion that I was raising a future rail baron, or at least a docent at the California State Railroad Museum.
At the time, especially during those long hours of setting up track that would have to be dismantled after dinner, I wondered why my son wasn't more interested in cars. As the saying goes, I should be careful what I wish for. Starting with Matchbox and Hot Wheels, he quickly developed a passion for "Cars and Trucks and Things That Go." Now I'm listening for clues about headers and drifting and rims. He's a happy little gearhead, and I'm happy to talk cars with him as long as I get a turn to talk about football somewhere in there.
We share music tastes, though his runs a little harder and louder than mine. I was happy when he enjoyed watching "Capricorn One," especially the cool Mustang that Elliot Gould drives for about five minutes. There is some friction about the necessity of Jar Jar Binks, but we generally agree that watching a Star Wars movie is a good way to spend a couple of hours. I was proud and happy that he chose "Calvin and Hobbes" to be the gateway to his voracious reading habits. That led to Peanuts and The Far Side, and I was fine with that, since he was also reading chapter books as well. I didn't mind when he would recite favorite bits and strips from memory. It was a shared obsession. Then he started reading Garfield.
I am the boy's father, and I am making an effort, but I can't stand Garfield. I didn't think he was funny twenty-five years ago, and I don't think he's funny now. Cats that eat lasagna and abuse dogs need more discipline. That's my opinion. Not his. My son laughs until he snorts at the fat feline's hijinks. I try to appear interested, but my lack of enthusiasm is obvious.
Sometimes he leaves things lying around the house, and when it's a Garfield book I must steel myself from the temptation to simply "misplace it" further. I know that his love of cat comics puts him squarely in the range of normal for his demographic, but I had hoped to hop over this one.
Or maybe he's more clever than I give him credit. There was a guy who, while everyone else was adorning the doors of their dorm rooms with Doonesbury or Bizarro strips, insisted on taping his weekly favorite Nancy comic on his. He steadfastly maintained his sincere love for the antics of Nancy and her pal Sluggo, creating levels of irony that were, at times, excruciating. And maybe that's what my son is working on. Perhaps he's harvesting a bit of sarcasm. I can relate to that.


Mrs. Id said...

Sorry, Garfield is my fault. The perfect antidote to great books. I don't suppose the possibility of an Aristotle backlash is any consolation, though...

Anonymous said...

There IS a way to enjoy those comics, you know.

Try Garfield comic strips without the actual cat in the mix - surprisingly weird and funny.