I never much cared for homework when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one. There were so many other things I would have rather been doing. And you might be surprised to find out just how much you can accomplish when you should be doing something else.
There are few to choose from, but one of my most memorable homework assignments came from Mrs. Green’s English class. Each student was to look up the origin and meaning of their first name. I was intrigued. I had never given any thought to where the name ‘Ryan’ might have originated, or had any idea as to what it may have meant.
Back then, the assignment was pretty straightforward and not nearly as complicated as it might be in today’s classroom. By today’s standards, the names of the students in my classroom were rather bland. We had a Billy, two annoying girls named Melissa, a Sally, a Ronnie, three Davids and a Michael or two. In the early ‘70’s, the name Ryan was one of the more unusual ones.
That was then. Now, parents have become much more creative in naming their children, especially celebrities. I don’t know how much background information Bronx Mowgli (Ashlee Simpson’s son), or Jermajesty (Jermaine Jackson’s son) are going to find on Google. I imagine that Bob Geldof’s daughter Fifi Trixibelle and Frank Zappa’s daughter Diva Thin Muffin could keep them company while they wait on Rob Morrow’s child, named Tu – who is doomed to a life of procrastination. “Not today, Tu Morrow”. Poor thing. Unimpressed with anything this world had to offer, Steven Spielberg chose to invent a word, naming his daughter Destry. Like it or not, it does however work in The Name Game, so who are we to judge? (You’re singing it right now, aren’t you? )
Celebrities are not alone in condemning their children to years of adolescent schoolyard banter. Proof of some parents’ cruel sense of humor can be found within recent birth registries, which document the increased popularity of names like: Tesla, Fanta, Baretta, and ESPN. Maybe it’s me, but any parent who names their child ESPN should have the word ASSHOLE stamped on their driver’s license. In contrast, a medal of some sort should be bestowed upon the dad who stepped up and delivered his own child when his wife went into labor and was forced to give birth on the LA expressway in the back seat of their Mazda. The result was a healthy baby boy named Carson. True story.
The school bell rang and another English class with Ms. Green came to an end. After class that day, I did a very unusual thing, something most students today cannot comprehend – I went to a library. Not only that, I utilized the archaic Dewey Decimal system to track down the information I needed. Today, I’d pay good money to watch a millennial get tossed into a public library, without a cell phone and forced to find a book’s Dewey call number. As a TV show, it would be comedy gold for the over-40 demographic.
In the library, it wasn’t long before I discovered what I had felt all of my life: I was royalty.
There it was in black and white: “Ryan is a male name of Irish origin and means, ‘little king’.” My first thought was, “Duh.” Royalty was in my DNA from the start, and in only a few short years this ‘little king’ would mature into a big queen. I knew I was superior to those two Melissa cunts and to that kid who sat in the back and smelled like sausage, and now I had proof!
Sadly, not many people were as impressed with my ‘Highness’ as I was. Especially my family. I pulled the ‘little king’ card on my father once:
“In this kingdom, he who brings home the gold makes the rules,” he said. “I bring home gold. How about you?” he asked, before ending the discussion with, “No gold? No rules.”
But, if I WAS king?
At the moment, I happen to be wearing an ermine jockstrap and feeling rather royal. I’m also four beers into a six-pack and feeling no pain, so let’s run with it.
If I were king…
Every grocery store would have a designated “I have my shit together” checkout lane. That means I’m not on my phone, or in conversation. My wallet is out, my music isn’t playing through my headphones. I’m listening to the cashier, anticipating the total cost and I am conscious that at some point I will have to pay for my items and carry them out of the establishment. If you’re one of those idiots who stare into space until all of your items are bagged before you realize that you have to pay and start digging in your purse, can’t find your wallet, or some other bullshit, you will be fined a ‘Dipshit’ tax. But not before you are escorted by security back to the end of the line where you will wait, again, and have time to gather your thoughts and get your shit together.
By law, every citizen over 18 will serve a minimum of one year working in the service industry. Anyone who’s worked as a waiter, bartender, hotel concierge, etc. can tell you that the general public is not a rational body of people. By and large, people are jerks. If everyone had the experience of having to wait or serve versions of themselves, there might be a little less snapping for the busboy and a little more respect for the person pouring their drink, accommodating their ridiculous substitutions or sifting the sugar on their gluten-free waffles.
Within nightclubs, Fruit Flies (girls who insist on accompanying their gay friends out to gay clubs) must be tethered to their hosting Fruit by 2am. We’ve all seen this scenario: It’s three-thirty in the morning and some poor intoxicated girl, looking several moments past her glamour, has been abandoned and left to stumble through the crowds in search of her ride home. Meanwhile, her ‘bestie’ is sucking off the DJ or getting plowed in a bathroom stall, doing lines of coke on the toilet roll dispenser. Fruits, mind your Flies, or be swatted from the guest list.
Substantial resources will be devoted to the research of a pill capable of dissolving the stick that is stuck up the asses of most gay men. A common condition causing those affected to exhibit extreme rudeness in support of an unsubstantiated ego. It’s an epidemic that needs to be eradicated. Men with the most severe cases lack the capacity to understand that sometimes a “hello” is just a “hello” and not a sexual invitation. Our ancestors and relics like myself call it being friendly. But that concept requires a personality, which is usually lacking among the dicks with sticks.
Crocs and flip-flops are forbidden to be used as casual daywear, except within 100 feet of swimming pools or other bodies of water used for recreational purposes. If your toes look like they could snatch salmon out of a stream, they belong locked away in a closed-toe shoe, not picking up sidewalk crud and shuffling through Saks Fifth Avenue.
No more speakerphone for pedestrians. The use of speakerphone will be limited to transit operators only. Broadcasting your life’s latest drama or family argument is not a treat for those of us standing in line, or at the movies, or sitting on the train. In fact, we don’t give a flying fuck about listening to you argue with customer service. Not in my kingdom.
I’ve noticed that as King, what I am concerned with most is improving my kingdom’s consideration of others. Our lack of consideration for others is a phenomenon I cannot wrap my head around. Most of us spend our lives in the trenches, under the thumb of The Man, forced to live in a society of miserable, self-serving curmudgeons. And ironically, with so much technology at our fingertips, we seem to have lost touch with, well, touch. Advancements in AI are rapidly erasing the value of being human. It has certainly tainted and diminished our interpersonal skills. It’s harder than ever for people to make friends because we don’t know how.
Mankind seems to be regressing back to the age when grunts and gestures served as communication. Sometimes I’ll watch the high school students as they leave class and make their way down the street, or watch the interaction of strangers at rush hour. When did it become cool to have no manners and act like an asshole?
If I were king, I would remind my kingdom that we are all in this world together. We only have each other and we will never experience this life, in this way, and with these people ever again. Why waste what little time we have only being concerned with ourselves? Life is so much more fulfilling when it’s shared with others. To share, we have to connect and to connect, we have to take risks and perhaps feel vulnerable.
Tomorrow is promised to no one. Connect with people and find out what’s possible. You might be surprised to discover what amazing things can happen just by holding the door open for someone, practicing a random act of kindness, looking a person in the eye or being sincere when you say ‘Thank you’. That’s how you connect with the universe and with each other.
If you’re reading this, welcome to my Kingdom. The gates are always open and everyone is welcomed. Let 2020 be a year of connection and possibility.