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Part One: Childhood Lessons and Responsibilities
© 2023 James LaFond
It is obvious as a suburban and urban person that the chores we megalopolis brats did for our parents were nothing compared to the work of country children. Rural kids also often drive machinery when they are in single digits, when in the supermarket business we can’t let them use a case cutter or bail cardboard until age 18.
Today Bob and I went to the auto-part store to get a light bulb for his grandson Jaxx’s headlight. He will not be installing it, but using the opportunity to teach both resident grandsons how to install this item. The monologue below is recalled from our morning drive.
Fishhooks and Splinters
Once I was crossing this bridge, about six I would say. The bridge was old and rough cut and deteriorating. I rubbed up against the rail and a long splinter, as if you cut a pencil longways, stuck into the outside of my right thigh. I couldn’t pull it out, so went home to my dad. Dad told me that it was no big thing and to be calm. That was the lesson we learned from all of the old timers whenever we’d get hurt, ‘Oh, that’s far from the heart, it I’ll be fine. Just suck it up son.’
Of course this bothered the women, that we were not babied and did not baby our sons in our sissy turn. But I told my wife, ‘Don’t think I don’t care, or feel sympathy. But when he gets out in the world other men will not care and they will walk all over him at the first sign he shows of emotional distress.’
So Dad draws out this splinter and it was an inch and a half deep and I was fine, a lesson learned. Then, when fishing, and I drive a fishhook through my finger he was there to remind me to remain calm, that I was to be a man not a woman, and to draw that hook out on my own. This was done by pushing it through, then either flattening or cutting off the barb, and then drawing the hook back out.
So, when I was working on a water main break, later in life, in my thirties, I got cut, had a big flap of skin that needed trimmed off my forearm, right here, [below the elbow.] I’m working with one of these young Gen-X creatures from the suburbs. I don’t want the skin getting caught and ripping and we need to finish the job. I could not reach to trim it so gave him my knife and said "here, you cut off that flap of skin." Good God! You would have thought I asked him to do open heart surgery!
You see, that is the difference in men when one is babied by a mother as a boy and the other is told to suck it up and shown the way.
That was the general way of it with my father, that everything in life worth having had to be earned. When I was six, I wanted a bee bee gun and he told me I’d have to buy it myself. So I dug up night crawlers and sold them to the fishermen and earned enough money to buy the gun—even addressed the order to the company. When the gun came I shot out a light and it was taken from me for a year for my failure to show proper discipline.
What kind of bee bee gun?
Oh, it was a Daisy Red Ryder, Model 1938, if they still have such a thing.
It was more than twenty dollars. I was selling the night crawlers for ten cents a piece, so you can imagine it took me all summer to save up for the gun.
My First Chores?
Mowing the lawn and feeding the goddamned dog!
My father had one of these old mowers made of cast iron and designed to be rebuilt, a gas mower that was not self-propelled. From age six I had to push that thing, my hands way up here like this on the handle so that I had to push with one hand down low on the bar. That was one heavy sucker. So, as you might imagine, I did not like mowing the grass and when it was not done I lost privileges to go on various ventures which I loved, like fishing and playing.
So, I learned to do things that I hated, which, as you know as a man who has worked, is what constitutes the life of a man. If you can’t do things you hate, at the behest of beta males who hate you, you will be looking for work often. That is how they hold your family hostage. Rare among women, Deb knew this, I think because her father was such a hard worker.
One time, when the boys were ten or eleven, they were getting kind of shitty the way boys that age do and she told them, “Do you think your father enjoys what he does? Do you think he works extra hours and side jobs because he likes it? He puts up with a lot of crap for us. If he didn’t have us to care for, he would hardly have to work, could live good and easy and hunt and fish as much as he wanted if he only had to take care of himself.”
The sections of Chores will include all of the unpaid work done by Bob first as a boy then as a youth, in episodic wise.
I Could Not Kiss Ass!
i could not kiss ass!
logic of force
america the brutal
your trojan whorse
let the world fend for itself
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