Picture it: Sicily, 1917. No, wait, wrong story. Let me start over ... ahem. Now then.

Picture it: Phillipsburg, 2007. Sunday morning. 7:15 AM. Clear, bright, and NINE DEGREES. We made a brief stop at the 25th Street Dunkin Donuts for some hot chocolate with extra whipped cream, and then we were on our way. We were up late the night before due to some ... uh, shenanigans ... so we are still half-asleep, greasy-haired, and booger-lashed, but still and all, it is a lovely day, and We Are On A Mission From God. Ever so optimistically, we head over the bridge into New Jersey, even though it is only NINE DEGREES.

We miss the turn-off from Route 22 at first, but eventually we pull into the Target parking lot, our Spidey-senses tingling, only partly because it is NINE DEGREES outside. There is also a Circuit City in this shopping center, and there is a Toys-Backward-R-Us across the road, so we're trying to gauge where we're going to have the best luck. Because, let's face it: What we're looking for, the good stuff, is in short supply these days. Nobody has any. We drove to every single store in the world on Friday, when it wasn't NINE DEGREES, and we came back with nada. Zero. Zilch. Nuthin'. Or, as they say in Spaceballs, "We ain't found shit."

Long story short, because I am getting tired of writing trying to figure out how to fit NINE DEGREES in to every paragraph in a place where it makes some kind of sense, plus I want to commence with the entertainment: WE GOT A WII! The P'burg Target only had 7 (!!) and we got ticket #6 (!!). We got in line at 7:15 for the store's opening at 8AM -- some people pulled up at 7:50 and later, only to be turned away, because all the consoles available had been claimed. The Circuit City in the same plaza started issuing vouchers at 8:00 for a 10AM opening, and forget about Toys-Backward-R-Us. There was already a 40-person line at 7:00. Some people apparently got in line at 4 in the morning, the fools.

Wii's are cool, yo. Get one. And if you have one? Send me a message -- DO NOT POST TO THE BLOG, FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY -- and we can do the parade of Mii's, or whatever you call it. Ryan's the tech guy. I just kick eleventy kinds of ass at Wii Sports Bowling. Even if it is only NINE DEGREES.


Most of the time, my family is really cool, as far as families go, but there are times when I want to get all Jan Brady on y'all's asses and be all, "I wish I were an only child!" Except that I have Jan Brady Syndrome (JBS) to the nth degree, and instead of wishing I were just an only child, I also sometimes wish that I didn't have parents, either, or aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents, either. (Which is really a weird thing to wish for, existentially speaking, because then how would I be here?) But all that aside, I have days -- like today -- where I sound just like that Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, to wit: "I wish I were dead ... no, I wish everyone else were dead."

Because, let's just face it: families suck, sometimes. Nobody else on Earth has the ability to bother, annoy, nag, bug, pester, torture you like members of your own family. They know all the secrets that nobody else knows. They know where all your buttons are, all your breaking points, and they know how to step over those lines in such a way that there is nothing you can do to stop them, even if you really wanted to, which usually you kind of don't. (Yes, I said it: in families, the difference between "good attention" and "bad attention" is so fine as to be negligible. We all already know this.)

Right now I am having a problem with a member of my family where, if I weren't such a goddamn chickenshit (and also so acutely aware of the consequences for everyone), I would call the cops and have their ass arrested so fast the flashing rooftop cruiser lights would cause seizures. He's not a particularly close member of the family, but he's family nonetheless, and it makes my blood boil to be forced to admit to this. What he has done does not affect me directly, but it impacts a lot of other people to whom I am related, and so the effects have rippled out to me.

I have so many questions that I already know will never be answered, but that someone, anyone, needs to ask ... How could you turn your back on your own father? How could you leave him in a hospital or nursing home to suffer like that? How could you not want closure, even if it's closure to an imperfect and unpleasant life? How could you not care about his feelings, even if it meant that you had to set aside yours? How could you not be willing to make that temporary sacrifice when everyone, even he, knew that he was dying? How could you not want to be there for the final moments in the life of someone who loved you, even when he didn't, in the best way he could, when you knew what was happening? How could you not be a son to your father at the one time in his life when he needed someone, anyone, but especially you to be a son to him? How could you let someone else have to bear that burden for you, you cowardly son of a bitch? And -- here's the $64,000 question, I guess -- how could you behave this way when you have children of your own?

These are not my questions to answer; I doubt very strongly that they are even mine to ask. But nobody else is going to ask them, so I might as well. I don't know how anyone could sleep at night, behaving as this particular relative did ... but then again, this relative is also an addict who is ruining the lives of all the people around him, including and especially his children. And, he knows it, but doesn't seem to care. It's his own personal cross to bear, I guess.

Except: it isn't. This bullshit? Affects. Us. All. It's hurt my mother, my father, my grandmother, my grandfather, my cousin. And so by extension? It hurts me too. It's not just your father whom you've turned your back on, you selfish rat bastard -- it's all of us. Every one of us who has to help clean up the mess and the chaos that you left behind in your wake because you are too selfish, immature, narcissistic, irresponsible, self-indulgent, and damaged to bother even paying attention to what you've done.

So I hurt, deep in my heart, and I'm not even the one who fucked up here. I am hurt because I have family, and I was raised right, and I love them and worry about them and want to do everything I can for them, simply because they are related to me. Because their blood is my blood, their people are my people, their sorrows are my sorrows, their sins are my sins.

And I don't want to be punished for something I would never dream of doing, you obnoxious, arrogant fuck. It's not right, and it's not fair, and I would never do that to you. I don't like the way your behavior has made others feel, and tangentally how it has made me feel, and the easiest way to protect myself from this kind of pain is to be alone. All alone, with no one close enough to hurt, and no one close enough to hurt me. I wish I were dead ... no, I wish everyone else were dead.

No, actually: Alan, I wish YOU were dead.