Tuesday, August 1, 2017

If Only...

Dear friends,

The newest Hard Taco song is called, "Never Go Home." It is about running away, and it is 100% loosely autobiographical.

I ran away from home in 1981. I can't remember why my parents drove me out of their lives forever, but it had something to do with their desire to project their carbohydrate preferences on me. They were really infatuated with whole grains, while I was more interested in exploring the diverse expressions of simple sugar. So, when they handed me a bowl of Grape-Nuts sprinkled with wheat germ, I knew we were dealing with irreconcilable differences.  It was time to move out.

Of course, I tried diplomacy first. I threw myself on the ground, screaming that they never fed me anything, and that every other 5-year-old got to eat Pixy Stix all the time. This titanic tantrum lasted several minutes, giving them them ample opportunity to plead for forgiveness. But there was to be no detente. Conservative measures had failed.

So I packed everything I would need for a life of self-governance... a sleeping bag and one Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie. I informed my parents that I would not be returning. I bid adieu to my stuffed triceratops, and left forever.

The guilt they felt at that moment must have been overwhelming. What if I was run over by a snow plow as soon as I crossed the street, and they never had a chance to apologize?

No, they were probably more worried that I would have a prosperous and fulfilling life, liberated from the shackles of their bran starch-laden custody. In a few short years, I would be the youngest valedictorian at a prominent paleontology school, and my parents would flounder in infinite shame, having driven away the world's most successful son. One day, they'd turn on the TV and see me leading a press conference about my latest discovery, a new dinosaur which I named Tuskodon. It would be he largest dinosaur ever found, with the sharpest teeth and shortest arms that anyone could imagine.

Seeing this, my parents would just turn to each other and whisper, "If only..."

If only... they had tried to understand before it was too late. If only... they had recognized that modern grain processing techniques were capable of removing and destroying the bran and the germ of the wheat. If only... they had simply admitted that every other kid consumed Pixy Stix 24 hours a day without interruption! 

The moment the front door closed behind me, it was official. My parents were doomed to decades of uninterrupted regret.

My first stop was my friend Wilhelm's house. He lived about a block away, and I couldn't leave town without saying goodbye to his dog, Gussie. More importantly, Wilhelm was already 7, which meant he was an excellent resource about autonomy and wilderness survival. All I needed was a quick primer on how to live in the woods until I was 18.

Shortly after I arrived, the phone rang, and Wilhelm's mother answered it.

"Hello? Hi, how are you? Yes, he just got here," she said.

I knew my mom was on the other line. I couldn't hear her side of the conversation, but I'm pretty sure she was just wailing and repeating the phrase, "If only!"

"Okay. Okay, I'll tell him."

Wilhelm's mother wasn't really making any sense, assuming I was right about what my mom was saying.

"Sure. That would be fine. Bye." Mrs. Greuer hung up the phone.

She then told me that my mom was making tacos, but that I was also welcome to stay at their house for dinner.

"What are you having?" I asked.

"Potato salad."

And so ended my defection. I still wonder what would have happened if the dinner plans had been switched that night. What if it the Greuers were having tacos? What if that had catalyzed my play for emancipated minor? What if that was my only chance to find the first Tuskodon?

If only...

With warmest regards,