Fatherly Advice

By: Matt Blair

The sun was coming down heavy over the mountain ridge that night, painting the sky a bright red. Round back, my father was chopping wood for the fire. I was sitting under the old elm tree, like I surely did most nights, just watching him work.

“Dad?” I said. “What’s it like to kiss a girl?”

My father set his axe down, staring off into that crimson sky. “Well,” he said, “there comes a time in every boy’s life where he starts to see the fairer sex a little differently. Why, I reckon that time might have come for you, too.”

“Yes, sir,” I said, staring at my feet.

“The first girl I ever kissed,” he said, “was a pretty young thing called Becky Sue. I don’t mind telling you she made a fool out of me, boy. She gave me weak knees and butterflies in my stomach. When I finally worked up the courage to kiss her on that spring morning, it was soft and sweet, like a summer’s breeze. After that, I don’t figure I felt so nervous around her anymore.”

“Wow,” I said. “I hope I get to kiss a girl someday.”

My father chuckled. “In your time,” he said, “I reckon you’ll kiss your share.” Then he picked up his axe and went straight back to work.

“Dad?” I asked. “What’s it like to cheat on your wife?”

He turned to me, setting his axe down again. “Now, that’s a very serious question,” he said. “You see, every man’s got a duty to stand by his wife and children. But sometimes, a man gets to feeling like a buffalo, like he’s got to get moving on. But that kind of thinking gets a man into trouble, you understand?”

I nodded, even though I didn’t quite understand.

“The first woman I ever cheated on your mother with,” he said, “was a pretty young thing called Wanda May. She had a face like an angel, blonde hair rolling down her shoulders like a river, and a bosom like Christmas morning.” He let out a hearty laugh. “She had a big ol’ behind too, the biggest you ever saw!”

I laughed along with him, only to watch his face grow stern. “But let me tell you something about buffalo making love,” he said. “It’s not a pretty business, and it’s nothing a man would want to get involved in. Being with Wanda May felt good for a while, I’ll tell you that. But I love your mother, and she loves me back, and that’s the way it ought to be, you hear?”

“Yes, sir,” I said.

“Good,” he said, picking up his axe. “Because I don’t want to hear about you running around behind a woman’s back.”

“What about punching the mailman?” I asked. “What’s that like?”

“Funny thing about cheating,” my father said. “It breeds jealousy, and not even God himself can hold back a jealous man. Now, I was wrong about your mother and the mailman, I know that now. But damned if I didn’t give that fellow a run for his money.”

“And Dad?” I asked. “What’s it like to stuff a dead, bloated rat with gunpowder and mail it to the President of the United States?”

My father chuckled. “Well, you’re just a whole mess of questions today, ain’t you?” he asked.

I nodded dumbly, feeling awfully sheepish about keeping him from his work.

“Well,” he said, “I’ll tell you something about this country of ours, and that’s that I believe it to be the finest country on God’s green earth. But a country like that comes with a price, son. You know, our forefathers fought long and hard for our freedom, and I reckon it’s every man’s duty to keep on fighting to preserve that freedom. And every once in a while, that means you even have to go against your own government and express your dissent, just like our founding fathers.

“And sometimes,” he said, “the best way to express that dissent is to go up in the attic, find yourself a big ol’ dead rat, slice its belly open, fill it all full of gunpowder, sew it up, put it in a box, and send it to the President of these United States.”

I remember thinking that I had a lot to learn about life, and wondering if I’d ever know as much about it as my father.

“Why, I still remember that fine autumn morning when those men from the government came around,” he said. “Ain’t never seen nothing like it.” He stared into the distance a while, before shaking his head as if to dislodge a bad memory stuck inside his brain. Then he picked up his axe and went back to work.

“Dad?” I asked. “What’s it like to drink a jug of your own moonshine, strip yourself naked, and run through the woods trying to catch the biggest jackrabbit you can find with your bare hands, only to wind up in the parking lot of the local Sheriff’s office several hours later, still buck naked, trying to set yourself on fire?”

My father laughed a booming laugh. “Maybe I’ll tell you about that one when you’re older,” he said.

“Yes, sir,” I answered.

He got down on his knee and mussed my hair, grinning that big old grin of his. “In fact,” he said, “I think that’s enough questions for one day. Why don’t you go in the house and help your mother with the dishes?”

I nodded and ran back inside. My mother was standing at the sink, minding her own business, looking just as pretty and gentle as I suppose any young boy’s mother does.

“Momma?” I said. “What’s it like to put on high heels and a little red dress, and then go down to the docks at midnight and try to get sailors and longshoremen to have sex with you for money?”

My mother just smiled her smile. “Go ask your father,” she said.


Tom Cruise’s Answering Machine

By: Matt Blair

Well, ‘ello, Tom! Bryan Brown calling. Listen, mate, I heard your career’s takin’ a bit of a nose dive, what with all this Scientology hullabaloo you’ve been on about. I just wanted to say that if you ever need to talk, or if you need some advice on slipping away into a cold, lonely life of obscurity, then I’m your man. You can call whenever, mate. These days I spend a lot of time puttering around the house. So, um…Yeah, just give me a call. Oh, and I don’t know if this is a good time, but I really think the time is right for Cocktail 2. “Fancy a go of it?”

“Yo, Tom! Tommy, it’s Cuba! Don’t play me like that, Tommy, I know you’re there! Tom! All right, man, I guess you’re not in. Listen, I’ve been watching you giving it up out there, and I’m diggin’ it! I’m diggin’ it! But Tommy, from one brother to another, you’ve got to start reining it in, you know what I’m sayin’? This is me, Cuba Gooding, Jr., telling you to tone it down! Man, when you’re crazy compared to me, you know you’re crazy! I did a hundred pushups for Regis this morning, baby! And you know what I’m doing this weekend? I’m wrestling a gorilla! A gorilla, Tom! That’s how I’m livin’, baby! I’m crazy, I’m out there! But Tommy, I’m tellin’ you, man, you are crazier than me! You’ve got to relax, dawg! I’m all about lovin’ you, and you’ve got to take care of yourself. It’s all you, baby! Whoo! Listen, I’ve got to go jump off the roof of this building, but you call me!”

“You think I’m glib, Cruise? You won’t think I’m so glib when I’ve got my foot buried in your ass! You’d better change your mind about morphine real quick, because you’re going to need it after the world of pain I’m going to put you through! Oh, and get yourself a couple of psychiatrists too, because I’m going to beat you so hard it’s going to blow your mind! Nobody makes a fool out of Matt Lauer!”

“Mr. Cruise? Hi, it’s Beck calling. Look, uh…I know you’re a really busy guy, but I was wondering if I could, like, ask your advice. You see, before you started getting all these headlines and stuff, nobody knew I was a Scientologist. And it’s like, now that everybody’s talking about you, and the press keeps writing these articles where they, like, mention the names of other famous Scientologists, all of the sudden I’ve got all these people asking me questions about it. It’s like, people have all these questions about Scientology because it’s, like, really weird, and I know we’re not supposed to talk about it, so I was wondering what you thought I should do. I wrote a song about it called ‘Champagne Shantytown Autobump Funk,’ but it didn’t seem to clear anything up.”

“Mr. Tom Cruise! Honey, it’s Oprah calling! I just wanted to thank you so much for coming on the show. People can’t stop talking about you! Now, baby, I hate to have to do this, but we need to talk about the damages from the interview. You know I love you, honey, but I’m going to have to bill you for the couch you set fire to after the taping. There’s also Bobby, the cameraman that you punched out. I know that was all in fun, but he’s talking about suing for damages. I bought him a lovely little new red Miata, but I think it would still be nice if you gave him a call. Oh, and I got a call from your people about featuring Dianetics in the book club, and I love the idea! But to tell you the truth, I just don’t know if our viewers are ready for it. Maybe if you replaced the volcano on the cover with a country lane, we could talk. Call me, sweetheart!”

“Hello, Tom? This message is from Penélope Cruz. You may remember, I am the woman who you dated between the woman you were married to for many years and the twelve-year-old girl who you are dating now. And nobody seems to remember any of that, even though it was in all the papers at the time when it was going on, and I just want to say that I am okay with that. And if you don’t know why, it is because I did not know then that you would be nuts. And now, whenever I turn on the television, I see that you are, and for each day that I am not with you, I am thankful. Because I do not want to be the woman on the arm of someone who is nuts. So I am not bitter, I want you to know that, and I hope that you and your daughter – I’m sorry, I mean to say your new girlfriend – will be very happy together.”

“Tom, what’s up? It’s John T. calling. I just want to say, I think the way you’re going to the wall for the Church at every opportunity is really impressive. It’s great that you’re not worried about your career, or your public profile, or how many people think you’ve suddenly gone completely insane. I’m glad I’m not the only one out there anymore, you know what I mean? I thought I’d made some waves when I compared Germany’s campaign against the Church to some kind of Fourth Reich, but you…I mean, you’re out there, and that’s really great. Like I said to Tarantino after the opening weekend gross came in for Pulp Fiction: thank you, thank you, thank you! By the way, did you get a call from Beck this week? That kid seems really stressed out. Well, stressed out in the mellowest possible way, but you know what I mean. Anyway, I’ll race you to the next OT level, what do you say?”