Here’s the link to the new book, “53 Is the New 38”. If you are a fan of the blog, I’d encourage you to click on the link https://www.createspace.com/5704941 and order a copy for friends of family members. It’s just in time for the holidays. If you are middle aged or trying to convey to someone the utter thanklessness, ironic humor and indignity of middle age, this book offer you a voice of protest or a laugh-out-loud escape. Hope you enjoy it.
We all have that certain special someone in our lives – that angry, disaffected, the world-is-going-to-hell and our President is really an enemy agent kind of friend or relative who needs to either be euthanized like a lame horse or trained to laugh…Arsenic is expensive and unless you live in Oregon, I suggest you give him or her a copy of T-Rex By The Tail or Bicentennial Rex for Christmas or Hanukkah. Hell, get them both books!
At a minimum, do your patriotic bit to stimulate the local economy and buy a copy from Elm Street Books or simply click on this web site’s masthead and help Jeff Bezos make an extra $10k to tip his pedicurist by using Amazon.com.
According to one angry T-Rex, “each dollar you spend helps prime the economy, keeping people employed and paying taxes – taxes that go to fund do-gooder give-aways, socialized medicine and stitch together a social safety net that is becoming a massive European style hammock….Grrrrrr!”
A few reviews:
I knew it was going to be a good read, have known Mike for years. All I had to do was get past the first few pages , it was tough, and the rest was easy. I do remember being raised by a “dinosaur” and even see Woody in alot of the chapters. Mike has done a great job of allowing the younger generation to see what child rearing was, and maybe still should be, like . Congrats to a great author, and THANKS !!!!!
This is a fun book. What self-loving Baby Boomer wouldn’t love to take a trip down a memory lane lined with humor and keen insight? And it’s a very fun and realistic trip at that. Turpin captures the charming idiocy of the adolescent male (I apologize for the multiple redundancies in this sentence) growing up in the 1970’s with wit, verve and understanding. The Patton family is much more realistic (and amusing) than that “other” southern California tribe, the Brady’s. Just as clearly, Central Casting could never have managed to find an appropriate Karl (“Rex”) . . . the Patton patriarch – a cross between an Old Testament prophet and a sleep deprived George Patton.
This is a great and funny read, full of smarts and happy memory ghosts. I highly recommend it.
In 1976, it was a hell of a time to be a conservative. OPEC embargoes, women’s liberation, Carter, Watergate, the fall of Saigon, Laos and Cambodia as well as sex, drugs, rock & roll tugging at the pant legs of teenagers. It’s indeed a dark ( and humorous ) time in the Force of the Alpha Jedis…Read the book and expand your mind! Here:s the link ! Pop it in your URL and buy some for friends and family. Don’t let your kids read it. It will blow your cover. http://www.amazon.com/BiCentennial-Rex-Tales-T-Rex-Volume/dp/1481200054
Just a public service announcement that if you have not ordered T-Rex By The Tail, it is available at New Canaan’s own Elm Street Books and on Amazon.com under author Michael Anthony Turpin. Once you have devoured the book, I would welcome a review on Amazon. It is right under the book itself on the description of the novel. Initial reviews are in.
Bob M from Des Moines writes, ” I laughed, I cried. I hit my sixteen year old for leaving the damn milk out on the counter. It felt good.”
Larry from Arkansas writes, “The Old Testament is still the best book in the Bible. It’s clear that Liberals got a hold of the presses around 1AD and look what happened, ‘Mein Kampf’ also known as the New Testament!”
By the way, Karl Patton hated the Fourth of July. He hated fireworks as they reminded him of the Chinese. “Putting anything with gunpowder in the hands of someone who has not finished high school is a recipe for a cluster @&$k! The Chinese gave us fireworks with short fuses so we would blow off our own fingers and then not be able to work our machine guns when they invaded the US.”
T-Rex By The Tail; Volume I
Authored by Michael Anthony Turpin
When 81 year old neo-conservative Karl Patton dies, his four sons must gather up his bones and dredge the river of their own lives lived in the shadow of their father — the T-Rex.
“The T-Rex father possessed an abnormally large mouth from which he would chew out loud, belch, curse, and devour any weaker form of life. He possessed a great sweeping tail that could strike with unusual dexterity, hitting anything, including his own children, for the slightest infraction. His arms were unusually short, which precluded him from washing dishes or changing diapers. He was the perfect machine-an eating, sleeping, and working automaton preprogrammed to control every aspect of his white-picket world. The T-Rex father was fashioned out of reptilian conservatism, while his partner, the She-Rex, served as his alter ego. In an epoch of profound social climate change, the T-Rex father would have devoured his young rather than yield to sacrifice them to a softer ecosystem of collectivism. She-Rex served as his interpreter and voice of reason, helping her companion defend their family against a frontal assault from change, battling the corrupting elements of the antiwar demonstrations, oil embargos, drugs, terrorism, racial strife, assassinations, pandemics, and urban decline.”
As the boys gather to break the news to their mother who is suffering from early stage Alzheimers, life takes a turn for the bizarre and forces each son to come to grips with their birth order, personal biases and comical shortcomings.
For anyone who has wondered whether today’s parents are indeed a more evolved or devolved version of those who preceded us, grown up in a household fashioned out of conservative timber, felt the sting of a belt or heard the roar of creative profanity, this eulogy to the last great age of Jurassic parenting will have you feeling right at home.
- To Order: T-Rex By The Tail
- Publication Date:
- Jun 20 2012
- 147515156X / 9781475151565
- Page Count:
- Black and White
- Related Categories:
- Fiction / Family Life
“Genuine polemics approach a book as lovingly as a cannibal spices a baby”. Walter Benjamin (1892-1940)
After years of penning what I considered to be Pulitzer Prize winning memos at work, crafting short stories that nobody read and submitting exaggerated youth sport write ups that lost my reader’s faster than a blind crossing guard, I decided to try my hand at writing a book.
I have to admit that being an aspiring writer in today’s digital age is the like being a portrait artist at a hyperactivity convention. I have so many pearls to string on an endless necklace of insights but my end customer has the attention span of a flea and reads a maximum of 800 words a day – all of them tweets from Kim Kardashian. Yet, the dream to write burns inside of me like an underground coal fire or perhaps, severe indigestion. For an ex-college jock that took literature and played baseball because both involved the least amount of effort, the dream of publishing a tome is the equivalent of hitting a home run in Dodger Stadium. Most of us lead lives of quiet suburban desperation and do not want our ultimate legacy to be that we were really good at picking up dog poop. The French, by the way, never pick it up. This gives them more time to drink espresso and write books.
I knew I was facing some headwinds as an aspiring author but was self-aware enough to recognize that I lacked several critical prerequisites – brevity, humility and a good editor. Yet, the voices inside my head continued to offer unsolicited ideas, strange characters and challenges to put pen to paper. My doctor explained to me that I could take medication to make all these feelings go away but it seemed cheaper to write a book since his drugs were not available in generic form and my company had just implemented a high deductible plan.
I began to record in earnest humorous stories about life as a middle child in a four-boy family ruled by a neoconservative alpha male and a new age, psychic mother. My primary purpose was to use humor to reassure any reader that our lives are trains that run along parallel tracks. The only normal people we know, they say, are those we do not know very well. I also wanted to use the book as a warning to anyone under eighteen to not try to outrun the police in your Mom’s Ford Granada.
My photographic memory carefully sorted through the thousand sepia photos which were lovingly cut and pasted into a picture album documenting suburban life in the 1970s – the final days of Jurassic parenting – where T-Rex fathers roamed the hardware store aisles and She-Rex mothers moved in the shadows tenderizing everything before it was fed to their clueless progeny.
In considering the daunting challenge of penning a book, it seemed logical to string together a series of vignettes already written about my family. I had written some articles for local papers and had penned a few “tattle tales” for family events. Yet, this would not be a “kiss and tell” autobiographical account. I would be creating a new genre that recalled the days before child protective services felt the need to stick their noses into suburban life. I christened it “swear and yell” fiction.
Just as Tom Brokaw, Stephen Ambrose and others insisted on chronicling the Greatest Generation, I felt compelled to raise a glass to The Silent Generation. They are slowly disappearing and with them we are losing a piece of our own mythology. Today’s “think, but don’t say” society has slowly forced them into hiding and with each sunset, a generation that found its thrills on Blueberry Hill, is slowly relinquishing their colorful profanity and creative punishments — watching them beaten into plowshares fashioned out of “I messages” and “timeouts”. The T-Rex father is disappearing into a tar pit of political correctness – and with his passing, we are losing a valuable link to our past and to certain values that used to serve us as important social and moral guardrails.
Yet, to pen a tribute that both serenades and teases the age of Jurassic parenting presents challenges for a writer who often sacrifices tact for the sake of a cheap joke. The best stories in every family are best served like rich, blue cheese. They require time spent curing and fermenting out of the eye of the public – at least until the statute of limitations is expired. Comedy is tragedy plus time and those who do choose to tattle on their parents and/or siblings do so at their own risk. They may also find a sprig of arsenic in their iced tea at the next Fourth of July picnic.
If one wants to freely write about life and borrow from the past, they must turn to fiction where one can play Mr. Potato Head with each character – mixing vices, virtues and vicissitudes into people that resemble everyone and no one. Any first work of fiction borrows liberally from an author’s experiences that are disguised behind a primer of odd events, improbable situations and plausibly deniable moments. The problem is that the truth is always trying to wiggle out into the light of day.
The challenge is everyone wants to know which part is true and which is fiction. Upon receiving my draft novel, friends and family scrutinized the freshly created fiction like Egyptian hieroglyphics attempting to decipher the story and its characters for hidden messages and personal judgment. It was particularly justifiable in my case as I had crafted a novel about a family of four boys from Southern California with a conservative father and a liberal, intuitive mother. Given that art so often imitates life, it is a love story that takes place at a train wreck.
My next problem was getting every family member to read the entire book. Eventually, everyone came around – asking for a copy of the manuscript and then disappearing into weeks of radio silence as they digested the story and their perceived Doppelgängers.
“Why did you have me saying this?” asked one brother.
“It’s not you.” I emailed back.
“Oh yeah. Why can’t my character have said that?”
“It’s not you.”
Gratefully, each brother loved and approved of the manuscript but concluded with the same question, “ Have you shown it to Dad yet?” The answer was always the same – “not yet”. I was rationalizing that I wanted all of their feedback before proceeding to the Supreme Court for a final review. The future of my nascent manuscript which now had the working title, “T-Rex by the Tail”, hung in the balance.
“Dad, it’s an anthem to your generation and your unfiltered lens to the world. You are the last great land mammals in a time of profound social change.”
He listened and said nothing – a long, pregnant pause across three thousand miles of fiber optic phone line.
“Look, just as long as the book does not end with Obama in the White House or taxes being raised on the middle class, I can handle a few lampoons. We managed to raise you knuckleheads. My generation can take it.“
He paused and then added. “I’m not sure your generation will be able to take it when its your turn. But, hey, that book is for your kids to write. And one more thing, just be sure to make the father in the story a Republican – a Reagan Republican.”
Dad, no problem.
I am publishing the first chapter of my new novel. It will be published on Amazon – both Kindle and soft cover – by mid June. Hopefully, just in time for Father’s Day. It’s been six years in the making but really fifty years in its creation. Some readers will completely relate to the characters and others will choose to scratch their heads and wonder how drivel can find its way into print. Like all art, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. And yes, the line seperating truth and fiction is sometimes measured in inches.. Feel free to subscribe to the blog if you enjoy it. And, keep your eyes peeled for an announcement when the book is made available on-line and in a few bookstores. Cheers !
Book One – The Cretaceous Period
You don’t have to deserve your mother’s love. You have to deserve your father’s. He is more particular . . . The father is always a Republican towards his son, and his mother’s always a Democrat.
In the past six months, the Patton boys—Matthew, John, George, and Freddie—had hit the rock bottom of adolescence. The neighbors had begun quietly referring to Susie as “that poor woman.”
On that particular evening, Karl was returning from a seven-day business trip to London. As he pulled the brown garage door for the night, he recalled his last phone conversation with Susie just after he’d arrived in England. They’d been commiserating about the challenges of raising four boys, and, for the first time, Susie sounded tired and uncertain of her ability to hold down the fort in Karl’s absence.
A week later, Karl staggered through the back door, his military bearing and meticulous dress having disintegrated into a wrinkled suit, tie at half-mast, and dark circles under his sharp brown eyes. He dropped his chrome gray Samsonite on the back porch and stared in befuddlement. Susie had her back turned to him and was gazing vacantly into an illuminated oven. Her floral apron was tied tightly at her waist, accentuating a figure that had maintained elegant curves despite infrequent exercise and four pregnancies.
Turning, she used her forearm to sweep back a tangle of hair from her eyes, blowing with pursed lips. The raven-haired girl with the cornflower blue eyes who had once won an Elizabeth Taylor look-alike contest at the Marin County Fair looked as though she had been dragged behind a bread truck—for a week.
The usually immaculate house was as disheveled as Susie was, with laundry piled in the hallway and dirty dishes stacked haphazardly in the sink.
Susie didn’t greet him as she normally did after a business trip—hurrying to give him a kiss and run her fingers through his flattop hair. Typically, she led him into the dining room, poured two glasses oft, served him dinner, listened sympathetically to the vagaries of the insurance industry, and endless conveyor belt of incompetent people who populated Karl’s universe.
On this evening, however, Susie launched immediately into an unfiltered inventory of the week’s Her voice was an interesting admixture of consternation, resignation, and thinly veiled amusement.
“Let’s begin at the beginning she said. “George and Bruce Hegarty lobbed lemons at what they thought was a slow-moving group of cars near Magnolia Road. It turned out to be a funeral procession
She opened the broken back-porch door and jerked her head toward the garage where Karl had parked only moments before. “ possible you didn’t notice that our garage is lined with stolen goods. John and the Hughes twins used the glass cutting kit we gave to him for Christmas to break into school. The boys are uncertain what to do with five overhead projectors. Apparently they need to find someone who specializes in fencing audiovisual equipment.”
Turning back toward Karl, she allowed the broken door to swing shut before she arched her rear end to stop it a millisecond before it slammed.
the lighted part of the kitchen, she sighed. Matthew had a particularly good week. and five of his friends were suspended for streaking through what he swears was an all-girls’ high school. It turned out to be the all-girls’ elementary school. The girls are traumatized, to say the least.
“ the grand finale, Freddie’s school counselor thinks he may be suffering from something called traumainduced wants to meet with both of us. She seemed to think this form of personality disorder is the only acceptable excuse for his fascination with setting fires. Otherwise, everything was okay.”
She shook her head and gave Karl a rueful, cynical smile. In the pale light of a Fridayevening kitchen, she was stunning. In spite of her faded lipstick and disordered hair, she radiated femininity, grace, charm, elegance, and steel, just as she had every day of her life.
“And how was your week…dearest?”
was dog tired and jet-lagged after an eleven-hour flight from Heathrow.He had spent a week entertaining Lloyd’s of London underwriters and debauched clients who wanted to drink, chase hookers, and only occasionally conduct business. up becameand was that a Democrat had taken local election for the California State Assembly in a formerly Republican district.
wasted no time inmeting out corporal punishment. Like a man-o-war’s sergeant-at-arms, he conferred with his captain and discussed methods of reprisal—the leather belt, a firm hand, or a hairbrush. His boys were lumps of coal that required enormous pressure if they were going to become acceptable diamonds of society.
December 14, 2011
Karl Patton pulled his Cadillac into the driveway of the home he’d lived in for forty-five years. He was exhausted. Since his stroke, he had moved more slowly, but was still able to drive the onemile each day to Morningside Village to spend his entire day with Susie. She had good days and bad days. On days when her dementia conspired to rob them of their fifty-five years together, he was profoundly sad.
When he imagined a life without Susie, it broke his heart. He wanted to live just five minutes past the love of his life to be certain no one mistreated her or forgot that she was the glue that had held family together for so many years. When he allowed himself to detour down these shadowed alleys, pondering a life that seemed to be slipping away, he wanted to lie down and never get up. For an eighty-one-year-old man, Karl remained ruggedly handsome, with short grey hair that spiked like He was the same weight he had been in college and could probably still fit into the wedding tuxedo that he kept—along with nearly every other suit he had ever owned—in his upstairs closet. His French-blue Brooks Brothers pinpoint was tightly folded on each side and tucked into chinos whose creases were ironed to a razor-thin edge. Karl looked the way he had lived, with bearing, restraint, and focus. Yet, for all his discipline, the river of his life had now chosen its own course, breaching its banks and flooding his best-laid plans. He was swimming against a current that was now too powerful to deny.
It had been only one year since he made the excruciating decision to Susie Morningside. However, after the “incident”—a frightening episode of disorientation that led to a frantic search for his wife—he had to accept that the revolving door of home-health nurses attempting to manage her care was not the optimal solution. It was selfish for him to keep her in an environment she rarely recognized anymore. When she was confused, Susie became despondent—something Karl Patton never imagined could happen to the person he referred to as “Susie Sunshine.” The choice became inescapable.
He missed her. He longed for her smell and constant humming as she floated like a spring breeze through their home. Susie O’Reilly Patton was a mother robin perpetually in motion, preparing a nest that was never complete.
Karl walked into an empty kitchen, the back door gently closing behind him as the well-oiled pneumatic mechanism slowed it to a barely detectable tap. He walked into the foyer and emptied his pockets, placing his keys, wallet, and loose change in the Italian leather desk caddy Susie had given him for his sixtieth birthday.
Junk mail and unopened Christmas and holiday cards littered the entry room table. He smiled and held up a card postmarked from Rye, New York, trying to remember who the hell lived in Rye. It was probably one of the hundreds of people still insisted on sending greetings to each December. In the past, Susie would have faithfully opened each one, admiring the progress of friends and family and smiling at the notes and personal messages. She would, in turn, write her own message on every Christmas card she sent. She felt the effort to communicate with friends individually said something about a person. It was the one chance each year to tell them how you felt.
Karl glanced into the mirror illuminated by the flat light of a desk lamp and its energysaver light bulb. The ridges of his eyebrows and strong chin cast odd shadows, reminding him of the actor Boris Karloff. His brown eyes were faded and opaque like the marbles he used to shoot as a child.
“Jesus Christ, you are an old son of a bitch,” he muttered as he turned off the light.
He mindlessly wandered the perimeter of the first floor, moving from a living room full of photographs into a dining room that had not hosted a family dinner in a decade, across the cool red floor of smooth Spanish tiles in the breakfast room, and finally, back into the kitchen. The house smelled of bleach and sterile emptiness. It was not decorated for Christmas. In the past, the living room, foyer, and staircase would be festooned with garlands, ornaments, tasteful talismans of the yuletide season, and a nativity scene. The “House That ” would have smelled of cinnamon and peppermint. Susie would have been mobilized for the holidays.
Like night watchman on his final key run, Karl made certain that his area of responsibility was locked down. He turned handles, pulled on doors, and jiggled windows to ensure a tight seal. He felt like a forgotten curator, caring for and attending to memories, artifacts, and relics of a past age. Somewhere along the way, he had been central to his family’s to one who merely worked to safeguard it.
four-bedroom Mediterranean house, built in 1928 and home to only two families, was his castle, lacking only a moat, drawbridge, and portcullis. Across sixteen thousand twilights, his car had crunched down the uneven gravel driveway. He would turn off his engine and headlights and listen. He could see an illuminated upstairs window and already hear the reverberating bass of a teenager’s stereo system. The music mixed with the pitched voices of two boys in mortal combat, a dog chasing a cat, and a mother probably refereeing the fight while managing to talk on the phone at the same time. He would take a deep breath and brace himself for the chaos and medieval world of his boys.
That night, he could almost hear the thumping of the boys wrestling in the upstairs bedrooms and the loud slap of the broken back door as their mongrel dog, Max, slipped outside to patrol the neighborhood. He hated that dog. Dogs were like welfare recipients—lazy and promiscuous. He could smell Susie’s perfume and feel her fingers in his hair. He closed his eyes and wished just for a moment that he might once again feel the exhilarating surge of his family, moving and swirling in their self-absorbed routines, so alive with flawed perfection. He felt very tired, as if the caffeine rush of his life was wearing off and he needed a nap.
He started to shout upstairs to Susie, but stopped himself, instead looking out the French doors to the patio and the pool. The “mow and blow” guys had been there. The yard and garden looked immaculate, almost too perfect. the handouts Yard work was why you had boys.
Karl climbed the stairs and slipped into his pajamas, briefly turning on the television and making the mistake of lingering for a moment too long on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. “That little liberal smart-ass,” he muttered. The guest panel was an intellectual cesspool composed of a mindless Berkeley communist, the “Reverend” Al Sharpton, New York Times writer and PBS commentator David Brooks, and a twenty-something starlet who had recently lasted eighty-two minutes before dying in a vampire movie. Brooks seemed lost, possibly wondering why he let his agent talk him into pushing his new book on this pinko talk show.
Karl cringed as the vacuous micro-celebrity spouted her MSNBC sound bites and cotton-candy views on the need for larger government, more regulation, and nationalized healthcare.
“Those guys on Wall Street are bad people,” she said emphatically, nodding her head as the audience applauded and the other panelists joined the lynch mob. Brooks smiled and said nothing. He was like a conservative trying to get laid at a Democratic fundraiser.
Karl turned the channel to COPS. He liked that program. It reassured him to know that justice was happening somewhere, even though the show gave him the impression that the entire nation was on crystal meth and that urban and rural American decline was even more pronounced than he had once thought.
A century ago, that toothless piece of tornado bait trying to cook up a homemade batch of crank on his trailer-park gas stove would have been a tanned, proud laborer in a field or factory. The ascent of America from agrarian culture to industrial and technological world leader was now in reverse. had abandonedmiddle class, outsourcing their jobs and creating a new generation of Joad families who wander like tumbleweeds in search of an America that no longer offered opportunity. Failure and poverty were forms of social leprosy in a material world that no longer held an allegiance to anything other than shareholders and one’s own bank account. He hated Wall Street for how they had exploited the he had supported. He had lost all respect for the Grand Old Party, which had sold out their values and seemed to be firmly in the pockets of special-interest groups. Yet, he hated Democrats even more. The thought of Obama in the White House nauseated him. It meant the inevitable liberalization of the Supreme Court, the treasury used as a personal war chest to buy votes, and a generation of citizens completely dependent on Big Government. America was in deep shit. mediocrityHe seriously wondered if his grandchildren might become the first American generation that would have to emigrate to another country to find a decent job.
He was proud of his own sons. Each had navigated successes and misfortunes—marriages, children, divorces, job changes, sickness, and stupid decisions of one kind or another—relatively successfully. But they all made it through that horrific period of the Susie had a lot to do with it. She stayed close to her boys and understood the subtle warning signs often missed by less intuitive parents.
His boys would all be okay. The fact that, even as adults, they made constant fun of how they’d been brought up annoyed him. If he had not kicked them in the ass a few times and come down hard at the right times, they might have ended up on COPS—tattooedon crackliving in some flop house with a bloated bacon-eating wife and no prospects.
He left the TV on low. As he reached to turn out the light, he felt a little indigestion. He had taken a Prilosec earlier in the day to reduce his heartburn. Without Susie at home, he was eating later at night and waking up coughing from acid reflux. His left arm felt weak. It had never really come back to full strength since the stroke. But what do you expect from anything on the left? You might get motion but never purposeful movement. He chuckled at his own joke and fell quickly into a deep sleep.
He never woke up. About Thursday morning, Karl Patton suffered an acute myocardial infarction and died peacefully. On the flickering television, a cop had just unleashed a K-9 unit to chase down a fleeing pimp.
The Mesozoic era was an epoch of magnificent and marvelous social and industrial evolution. It could be divided in to three principal periods: Triassic, Jurassic and the Cretaceous period.
The 1950’s and early 1960’s were the zenith of our modern society’s Jurassic age. T-Rex fathers roamed the landscape bringing order, power tools and Old Testament justice to a post WWII primal world in desperate need of control and benevolent, unilateral authority. The T-Rex possessed an abnormally large mouth from which he would chew out loud, belch, curse and devour any weaker form of life. He possessed a great sweeping tail that could strike with unusual dexterity – hitting anything, including his own children for the slightest infraction. His arms were unusually short which precluded him from helping with chores or changing diapers. He was like a biblical God – – always angry and with lots of rules. He was the perfect working machine – an eating, sleeping, and laboring automaton that was preprogrammed to improve every aspect of his white picket world.
As in nature, his progeny were highly vulnerable. It was a time of great civil upheaval. The ground was rocked by the volcanic violence in the inner cities. There were wars glowing on the distant edges of night fought in the far-off jungles of Southeast Asia. In every valley, long-haired, social parasites advocated sex, drugs and rock and roll – – all vying to corrupt the hearts and minds of the T-Rex’s children. He furiously scanned his horizon lines for signs of sedition and malevolent movement. Threats must be dealt with swiftly and decisively. It was a fight between good and evil and the largest, most fearsome creature to ever roam the earth was not about to yield to any living thing – a Russian, a hippie or even a Russian hippie.
The female, or She-Rex, gently drafted behind the T-Rex. This was a time where social conformity and home economic classes promoted feckless obedience and quiet, efficient martyrdom. She would exist to protect his progeny, cleaning up after T-Rex and moving stealthily in the shadows subordinating her identity to the greater purpose of ensuring the perpetuation of her own species. She made and cleaned the nest. She tenderized everything and she ensured that no one’s lateral incisors went more than six months without being cleaned by a dentist.
Later in her life, She-Rex would realize that the notion of the nest and the myth of marriage were propaganda promulgated by T-Rex traditionalists who did not understand a balanced, more egalitarian world. Her world would also soon change. She discovered she had choices and that her instincts and ideas mattered. She suddenly understood that she was as essential to the family’s survival as her T-Rex partner. In fact, she was pretty sure that if she decided to stop doing the laundry, the T-Rex would be forced to go to work in dirty underwear. This epiphany marked the beginning of the Cretaceous Period.
The Cretaceous Period of the 80’s and 90’s ushered in an era of permanent cooling from the days of hot, humid chauvinism. Some trace the decline of the T-Rex to this very time. A handful of revolutionary historians claim that liberal activists or specifically, Jimmy Carter, killed off T-Rex. Other more insightful paleontologists speculate that the T-Rex did not die but went into hiding. In an Ice Age of emasculated political correctness, replete with its time outs, “I” messages and liberated females, the T-Rex headed for the proverbial hills. The T-Rex father – the provider, the king, master and commander would soon find himself an anachronism – – barely recognizing the wilderness of his youth and lamenting his own inevitable exile.
He still rises each morning as he has for eight decades, stretching weary bones and putting his nose into the salt air that hangs in a marine layer of fog over his seaside home. He faithfully scans society’s horizon lines in the form of newspapers, the Internet and television – – and does not like what he sees. He exerts his right to free speech by sending poison pen letters to feckless politicians rebuking them for their fiscal recklessness and their ignorance to the irrefutable fact that free market capitalism and personal responsibility are the cornerstones to any great Democracy. He is offended by Washington’s patronizing indifference and lack of experience – many of those who “represent” him have never run a company, managed a payroll or had to make difficult decisions involving their own money.
As he looks across the blue infinity of his beloved Pacific Ocean, his back is turned to an America that once rewarded ability and persistence – – only now choosing to alter the definition of success out of some horribly misguided sense of social equity. Charlatans, social engineers and unqualified liberal public servants are slowly mortgaging his final days and the future of his children. Society now considers his unflinching values of self-sufficiency, corporal punishment, personal responsibility and meritocracy to be quaint, nostalgic echoes of a simpler and less sophisticated time.
Apparently, he muses, politicians have decided people can no longer think for themselves. He wonders if there is not some undercurrent of truth in the notion that the next generation lacks the stamina to stay informed enough on the issues to deserve to vote. Perhaps we could make people take a test….
To those who might question his steel-trap logic, impugn his well-reasoned opinions, attack his seeming lack of empathy or try to leverage this great nation’s future with expanded entitlements and reckless foreign policies, he has just two words, “Piss off!”
His numbers are clearly dwindling. Yet, he remains faithful to his creed and to his She-Rex, for everyone knows that a real T-Rex mates for life. Their heritage is another place and time. They are bonded by their simple act of survival in a turbulent and treacherous period and in having weathered the tempests together, they share a mutual respect that runs deeper than any sediment of the past. They have integrity and grit. They are the last of an extraordinary breed whose over-sized footprints and well-worn paths are disappearing – swept by winds of change and overgrown in a world so deafened by the din of self-interest that one can barely hear them as they share their stories of living and raising children in an epoch as wild and unrestrained as any time in history.
Retired Marine Master Sergeant Thomas Rexwood recently found himself battling an enemy he could not vanquish – the economy. “The damn melt-down caught me with my scivvies down,” growled the decorated veteran of the Korean War. If you ask me, this whole thing is the Chinese and Russians up to their old tricks. They could not beat us on the battlefield so they figured out a way to lend us a rope so we could hang ourselves.
An active 85 year-old father of six and grandfather to fourteen, Rexwood remains an avid outdoorsman –choosing to hunt with the bow and arrow. “The kill is purer with a bow. It’s silent and is the way God meant for us to kill game – and we always eat what we kill, don’t we?” He is nodding in the direction of his eldest son who shakes his head and retells the story of how his father made him eat a city pigeon that he had intentionally shot with a BB gun. “Dad always said, you kill it. You eat it. I just did not think he meant it. That was the most disgusting thing I have ever put in my mouth. But, I never shot anything again with that gun.”
Known as “T-Rex” to his friends and family, the former cop, youth football coach and bar owner needed a job. His popularity among some of his town’s most prominent senior citizens, including the editor of the local paper, landed him in the most unlikely of all positions, giving advice to a new generation of parents on how to raise kids. T-Rex’s conservative, stone-aged style has been nothing short of a sensation in a time of political correctness and kids secretly screaming out for tighter boundaries. Overnight, T-Rex has become the bane of teens and a blue print for beleaguered parents. His throw-back style handbook on parenting, We Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists has sold over 4m copies and earned him a syndicated column where he dishes out advice and insults to the emasculated and overwhelmed. His column is simply entitled “Hey T-Rex”.
“Hey T-Rex, my children are consumed by electronics – iPods, cell phones and personal computers. They literally shut themselves out from the world. They do not come when I call them for dinner, they text their friends at meals and routinely charge music to my credit cards. On family trips, we don’t talk, they just plug in and check out. Signed No Respect
Dear No Respect, go to the hardware store and purchase a rubber headed mallet, a hand towel and a plastic hefty bag. Return home and place the hand towel over the cell phone. Grasp the mallet and smash the towel. Repeat the procedure ten times – all the while smiling at your child and not breaking eye contact. Sweep the shattered electronics into the hefty bag. Next, cover the iPod with the hand towel and ask your child if they would prefer to come to dinner the first time they are called or watch you repeat the procedure. T-Rex
Hey T-Rex, I am pretty certain my 10 year old son is viewing adult images on the Web. What should I do? He seems to always erase his history file and browser cache but I know he is up to something. I recognize he is curious but this is so inappropriate. Gratefully, For Adults Only
Adults Only, go on eBay and order some back issues of the 1971 National Geographic magazine – Lost in Borneo. Give it to your son with the appropriate pages of naked natives earmarked – and tell him that this is how real naked people look. Explain that the first pornographic postcards were Moulin Rouge dance girls created by the WWI French army to be distributed to their soldiers – trying to show them there was actually something worth defending in Paris. It actually had the opposite effect. The entire French First Army deserted on the same night and tried to force their way into the burlesque show. Explain that when the Visigoths invaded Rome, the Centurions did not hear them coming because they were looking at pornography. Tell him his brain will turn to jello and that he will end up in an insane asylum. Lie to him. Scare him. Humiliate him. Rome rotted from within which is what he will do if he is not careful. First the body parts fall off and then you begin to act like a rabid dog. You know what the authorities do with mad dogs don’t you? T-Rex
Hey T-Rex, My son was caught playing with matches and started a small brushfire in the back of the school. My husband says it is no big deal but I am terrified he could have burned himself or something else. He was experimenting with gasoline, aerosol cans and paint thinner. He could have ended up in the ER with third degree burns. Still Simmering, Burning with Anger
Dear Burning with Anger, build a fire pit in the back yard away from low hanging trees and brush and let him play “Arson Welles” all he wants. Tell him to burn everything he can lay his hands on – starting with all those stupid video games that he no longer plays. Explain that fire is like a wild horse and that it can be domesticated with practice and a garden hose. Teach him to make a molotav cocktail. In the event he is ever involved in urban warfare, it will come in handy. Leave him inside the ring of fire as long as he wants. If you do not catch him playing with matches, then you should be worried. He is a boy and boys are genetically predisposed to pyromania. T-Rex
Hey T-Rex, I cannot seem to get my kids to do any chores around the house. I made the mistake of giving them an allowance but they rarely do the jobs that they are purportedly paid for. They are constantly without money and when they have it, I am worried they have stolen it from one another or from my wallet. When I grew up, I had to get my chores done (for free) before I could leave the property. Is it me or is it this generation? Yours Truly, Spineless
Spineless, sorry it took me a while to write back. I was THROWING UP. I don’t even have to meet you to know who you voted for. Allowance is a form of welfare. Cease and desist all forms of payment. That safety net you think you are constructing will become tomorrow’s hammock. Create a list of chores and attach a dollar value to each task. Set a 40% escrow account for all monies earned to help them fund their college education. This gets them used to the notion of no free rides and perhaps they will then value a higher education more. It also gets them used to being in higher income tax brackets which are here to stay. Inspect every job they perform and do not pay for poor performance. Hide your wallet and loose change as a “broke” teen is a criminal in waiting. Tell them if you hear that they are “mooching “ money off of their friends, they will be fined $ 20 to help fund a charity that helps people who really want to work. T-Rex
Hey T-Rex, My son had the audacity to call a cab the other day to pick him up at our house. Apparently, I was not home fast enough for him to meet his friends in town. Aside from the optics of a 14 year old kid calling a cab, whatever happened to walking? Am I out of touch or is he living in a bubble that needs to be burst? Signed, Got Two Legs?
Hey Two Legs! You are missing something else. It is not you who is out of touch, it is your shoe – the shoe that should be wedged up that lazy maggot’s rear end! Cab? Tell “lazy boy” that he has a carbon footprint bigger than China and that by wasting fossil fuels, he is probably putting an RPG into the hands of some sick, twisted fundamentalist who is right now aiming at a US serviceman. He might as well be pulling the trigger, the little ingrate. Have him go upstairs and draw 100 pictures of the American flag and write underneath the star spangled banner: “I am not a traitor, I am not a traitor.” In this man’s army, soldiers first learn to walk. While you’re at it, why don’t you walk to town with him just to show him that you know the way. T-Rex
Hey T-Rex, my son is bringing home straight A’s but he has no social life. He spends the day on Xbox360 with a head set talking to, for all I know, other shut-in teens. He only comes out of his room at night and to go to school. I recently read about a Japanese teen that did not leave his room for two years. When we suggest he get out and see friends or play, he shouts that he just wants to be left alone. Do you think he is depressed? Nervous Nelly
Dear Nelly – Depressed? Not leaving his room for two years? What kind of boot camp are you running? Sounds like another soft palmed, thin wristed, “mommy, I don’t get enough vitamin D”, suburban pencil neck, pansy. There is a Marine recruitment center off Old Norwalk Rd. I suggest you go down to the basement and grab ol’ Boo Radley and sign his rear end up for the Corps. If we don’t make a man out of him, we will at least show him how to operate heavy machinery with night vision goggles. Tell him that the real world begins at 18 when he is no longer able to live like a leech attached to your apron strings, home cooking and healthcare coverage to age 26. Throw him a party and then throw his clothes out on the lawn. Now I’m depressed! – T-Rex
Thomas Rexford can be reached at T-Rex@Jurrasic.com. His second book, What Did You Just Say? – Ten Ways To Discipline Your Kid is due out in time for Christmas.