Everything Pop had told me about being myself was cool, but how was I gonna convince Jason? "I really appreciate everything you've said, Pop, but there's still one prob. Jason hates me."
"I don't think he hates you, Daniel. On the contrary, he wouldn't have come this far with you if he did. No doubt you shocked him, and he was unable to deal with it at the time. But he'll calm down."
"You figure he'll chill, and think what I did was cool?"
"Not necessarily. He might still think that your pissing on Paul was gross, but that's his prerogative. It's also your prerogative, as well as Paul's, to do what you like to do."
"But I want Jason to think it's cool."
"Why? Do you need his approval? Does he need yours? Does anybody need anybody's?"
"What are you trying to say, Pop?"
The old dude took a sip of his beer, and smiled. "We all need to be careful of trying to impose our own values on other people. The world is full of people who wanna be missionaries for their own particular cause. Wars are fought between two opposing sides, both of whom believe that God is on their side. It seems to me that the majority of people who believe they're right aren't satisfied with just being right. They need to convince others of their so-called 'truth'. And why is that? I think it's because, deep down, they're insecure. The only way they can can justify their beliefs is by convincing others to also believe. Now, if something is truly correct, why should it need to be justified?"
"And that's what I was doing?"
"With Jason? Yes, I think so. You'd like to bring him into the 'fold' as it were. You want him to think that everything you do is cool. On the other hand, you're not willing to allow him to influence you."
"But he was totally screwed up, Pop. He thought his hand was gonna get all fucking hairy if he jacked off."
"It's clear that you are the stronger personality, Daniel, but that doesn't give you a license to convert other people to your way of thinking, especially if they're happy with their own opinions."
"You're influencing me."
"We all influence each other. However, I'm sharing my thoughts with you because you asked. You didn't tell Jason that you were about to piss on Paul, and give him a chance to reject your offer of 'seeing something totally rad'."
"He would've said no. But you don't understand, Pop. He said no to a whole bunch of things before that he thinks are cool now."
"So you think you were correct in doing what you did?"
"Yeah, right. The dude split, and called me and Paul weird."
"So what would you have done differently if you had the opportunity?"
"OK," I shrugged. "I guess I'd tell him what I was gonna do, and ask him if he wanted to watch it."
"Knowing that he would have declined?"
"Yeah. Don't you see, Pop? That's the whole fucking point! Do you think if I'd asked you if I could piss in your sink, that you would've said yes? You would've said no. Right?"
"So there ya go! Sometime's a dude's gotta be rad. Y'know, like take a chance. Do you think any less of me 'cause I pissed in your sink?"
"Any more of me?"
"I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that it might incriminate me."
"Ha! So you dig it when I'm rad! Cool!" I rose from the table, dropped my shorts, and waved my semi around. Sure enough, Pop went into instant gawk mode.
"Daniel, you know I can't concentrate on anything when you're parading yourself around like that!"
"It's the dope, huh?"
"You're obsessed with power. Anyway, you've missed one important point. What if I had freaked when you pissed in my sink? What would you have done?"
"I guess I would've freaked, too."
"Right… you think I should apologize to Jason?"
"What do you think?"
"If I apologize, he'll think I'm ashamed of pissing on Paul, which I'm not."
"What are you ashamed of?"
"OK, I get it. You're saying that I shouldn't have done it without first letting Jason know what I was gonna do. But that would've spoiled the surprise. And, anyway, you just said that if I'd asked you if I could piss in your sink, you would've said no. But you really wanted me to, right? 'Cause you like it when I do rad stuff."
"That's me, not Jason."
"My face is up here, Pop."
"You want me to put on my shorts?"
"You're totally crazy, Pop."
"And you're not? Jeez! Anyway, the point is, I'm not suggesting that you apologize for being who you are, I'm merely suggesting that you respect Jason's sensitivities. OK, I agree with you that sometimes you've gotta take a chance in order to make a point, but it doesn't always work, and obviously Jason wasn't quite ready for what you had in mind."
"He never has been. I'm a bit confused here, Pop. If I start asking dudes is it OK if I do this, or is it OK if I do that, I'll have to change. I won't be Daniel any more."
"And you came here to learn from me?" he cracked.
"Hey, it's cool! I can talk stuff through with you. So it's like two heads are better than one."
"You're right, Daniel. And if there's one thing older people can learn, it's not to assume that younger people are less intelligent. Less experienced, perhaps, but certainly not less intelligent."
"OK, so do you still think I should apologize to Jason?"
"Perhaps a better word would be 'explain'."
"That's if he'll listen. He's pretty fucking mad at me."
"Or mad at himself. People are not always easily understood, Daniel. I'd be interested to know how it goes, though. Meantime, I've got a story to finish, and there's no way I can concentrate on anything while you're swanning around in the buff, looking so damn… well… damn awesome. How about you go back to the garden, which, incidentally, has been improved out of sight, thank you very much... and I go back to the computer? I'll make lunch about one-ish."
Pop was right. I had done a pretty good job with the garden, considering the fucking jungle I had to work with at the beginning. "So I looked damn awesome, huh?" I wondered as I continued to work naked in the hot sun. I'd been told that many times by my buds, but it was always cool to hear it again, especially from a guy like Pop who'd probably seen a million dudes in his life. I also thought it was the bomb that he listened to my point of view, even though he had his own. He respected my opinion, and that was something teens didn't expect from the older generation. It wasn't so much that he gave me answers, it was more about making me think so that I could figure out the answers for myself.
I was showering under the cool water from the garden hose when the feral mop of white hair and the towel emerged from the back door, carrying a plate of sandwiches and a couple of light beers.
"I thought we'd have lunch out here, since you've done such a marvellous job."
"Did you finish your story?"
"Yep," he said as he placed the food and drink on the grass where we both sat.
"What's it about?"
"Dicks and ass."
"Yeah, right. I bet one of your characters is in the middle of building a fucking ark," I cracked before taking a sip of beer. Then I told Pop about what I'd been thinking while I was working. "So it's cool that you listen to what I have to say, and take it on board."
"We all have two ears and one mouth for a very good reason, Daniel. By the way, there's ham, tomato and lettuce on these… with English mustard, so I hope you like hot mustard. And these are chicken breast, lettuce and mayo. The others are roast beef, tomato and lettuce. And they've all got freshly ground pepper on them. Multi-grain bread, of course."
"Whoa!" I said as the hot mustard burnt the fuck outa my sinuses. "How come the English like their fucking mustard so damn hot?"
"They live in a cold climate. Anyway, it all gets back to what I was talking about before… people trying to impose their values on others. It all gets down to talking and not listening. How can people learn if they don't listen to other points of view with an open mind?"
"Maybe they don't wanna learn."
"Very good, Daniel."
"You want more mayo on your chicken?"
"Daniel! Please! Stop that!"
"Just teasing you."
"Yes, I know… and you know I love it when you do. But you chase all my damn thoughts away. Now, where was I?"
"Yes… closed minds allow nothing in, and that's the problem. That's why we have such words as 'bias', and 'prejudice', and even 'hate'. That's also why we have what we call the 'generation gap'. Communication ceases to exist because everybody's talking and nobody's listening."
"As a writer I need to. Actually, that's not quite true. I could be biased, and simply write about my own opinions of things."
"But you don't wanna?"
"What would be the point? I'm not here to convince anybody of anything, except perhaps to chill, as you put it… to accept the fact that we're not all the same, and that, indeed, we ought not to be. The world would be insufferably boring if we were all clones of each other. I suppose if my writing has a message, it's tolerance, and a willingness to accept diversity."
"Jason didn't tolerate what I did."
"And you didn't tolerate his homophobia in the beginning."
"You make great sandwiches, Pop. Totally fucking delish! OK, so tell me something. Is it poss to be intolerant of dudes who are also intolerant?"
"Yes," he cracked, and almost choked on his sandwich. "That's the contradiction, my young friend. But life is full of contradictions. I guess that's another reason why I find it interesting to write about people."
"Yes, teens. Teens are far more interesting than adults in my opinion."
"So you're biased."
"Indeed I am," he laughed. "You're pretty sharp."
"Why do you like me?"
"I think you've asked me that before, Daniel."
"Yeah, I know, but I like hearing it."
"Yes, most of us do. Most of us enjoy having our egos massaged, and our self-image validated. Even the strongest of us can be quite fragile. Anyway, to answer your question, I like you because you give the impression that you're invulnerable, even though are aren't. You prance around like a peacock, but you're actually quite sensitive to other people and their opinions of you. So you're also a contradiction… a cross between strength and fragility, between arrogance and humility, between confidence and fear."
"I thought you were gonna say stuff about my pecs and dick."
"They're all a bonus, Daniel," he said before cracking up again. "Decorations on a Christmas tree, my friend. But without the tree, they'd be a pile of cheap glitter. The tree is what ultimately matters. You can't have decorations without the tree."
"So what do you think of the tree?"
"Awesome. Absolutely awesome. But let me finish. When you flaunt yourself, it's partly because of an ego thing, but it's also because you're aware of the fact that you have something that appeals to other people, and you like to please them… if not tease them. And that's your motive when you piss on Paul. It's mutually rewarding, which means it's not entirely selfish. And that's how I see your teasing me, which, by the way, you're doing right now. Must you sit on the grass with your legs wide apart?"
"And that's why I like you," he chuckled. "You're an impossible scallywag."
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Diary Part 155