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Kids Will Save Your Soul

In the evening, when they’re here at my joint, they sprawl the couch cushions all over the floor and bounce down the couch after dinner. There’s fuel in their tanks and I know it. It isn’t rocket science. You house a wad of microwave lasagna or a plastic bowl full of iceberg and ranch and you feel that magic spark kicking in, you know? It’s like magic. It’s like you took a handful of life and ate it and now it’s oozing out of you and nothing can stop.

The outside is inside now.

Washing the dishes in the sink, I can hear the squeak and crunkle of their tiny feet rushing up and down the couch and it’s like this reoccurring dream I keep living, this set of notions that lay into me every damn night around 6:15pm. They’re probably ruining something down in the bowels of this pee-stained/juice-marked sectional piece of crap, that’s what comes first. I feel myself getting concerned. I’ve got to save that couch. I’ve got to protect my junk we bought off of some college girl back when we were still a nuclear family, back when we wanted something long and soft for the kids to lay on in the playroom. Back when there was a playroom. Back/back/back.

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Sometimes I make it real by opening my trap. I’ll be up in one of Charlie’s plastic bottle nipples with the stupid nipple cleaner thing and boom: I’ll hear myself mumbling one of my lame single-dad reprimands over the hiss of the sink.

“Stop,” I’ll say.

"You’re going to break the couch."

But whatever. It’s like the same way I’d tell you to ‘stop’ if you were three cars in front of me with your turn signal on for the last three miles. I really don’t give a damn. Why should I? I’m used to this by now. It is what it is. Plus, let’s be real. Do you know how f-ing hard it is to break a couch? Seriously, there are two kinds of people in this world: those who have tried to hack a couch apart for whatever reason, and those that haven’t. There are springs in there that will never die. There are springs under your ass while you watch "House Hunters" or "The Voice" or whatever that will still be springs, staring up at the landfill sky, long after your bones are dust and your name crosses no one’s lips or mind.

I’m divorcing their mom. I feel like I’m doing the right thing there. I also feel like I’m doing the wrong thing. All at once, whoop-dee-doo, I feel giddy and guilty and gutted and gay, oh happy day, oh crappy day

This is what it comes down to in so many ways. What fights do I want to fight? If you are indeed able to pick and choose your battles in this world, and I kind of think you are, then at what point do I want to start throwing down with my kids?

I’m divorcing their mom. I feel like I’m doing the right thing there. I also feel like I’m doing the wrong thing. All at once, whoop-dee-doo, I feel giddy and guilty and gutted and gay, oh happy day, oh crappy day. People try and make it all so black and white because we are humans and humans want answers. We DESERVE clear, concise answers to all this pain, to all this bullshit.

Why did that plane crash?

Why did he shoot all those kids?

Who is responsible for all of this Ebola coming to town?

And where the hell is Batman, yo?!

Where is our Batman? Where are our answers? Someone needs to lose their job. Like right now.

It makes me laugh. There are no answers. Didn’t you know that? When you end a marriage and you walk out into the frosty daylight and light a smoke or take your deep drag of mother nature or whatever the hell you get off on, didn’t you know that your next move is already written in the stars, like ten million years ago?

Your plane crash has always been there, bro.

Your broken hearts are just dinosaur bones. You dig them up and you act surprised. But the bones are all like, ‘What?’ They’ve been there all along.

I watch my kids destroying the couch in slow motion and I want to be everything I can possibly be for them without any of me mixed up in it. I want to be their daddy and nothing else right now. I don’t want to kiss nobody. I don’t want to hold nobody’s hand. I don’t want to talk on the phone or dream a little dream or suck on the pipe of the promise of tomorrow. I don’t want to experience any of that right now.

I just want to know if they know what’s really happening. At five, and three and nine, even if I combined them into one person, their age would still make me wonder if they get it. If they really get what’s coming down.

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"Frosty the Snowman" is on the TV again. I DVR’d it and it’s the number one request these days. So I oblige. Frosty. I grew up with him. Fat bastard. Fat-ass beautiful soul. When tiny bellies are finally full and the fires of life flare up again, they toss the cushions on the floor and the joy is real. And I have to tell you, it’s probably right then and there that I turn in one direction and graze up against this mountain of a ghost that follows me around.

I dry my hands on a cheap towel that kind of smells like mildew. I need to swap it out. Or not. It’s not really up to me. This couch, the towel, the chocolate milk shooting hard up through their veins, all of it, it’s been happening forever. It’s just the script, you see. And it’s been hurdling down out of deep space towards me, towards them, towards your sorry ass, since the dawn of dawns.

I know that sounds so hokey, man. And it is hokey. But so is life. Life is so damn hokey.

And one other thing.

Couch cushions belong on the floor.

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