Last week, just after Boston took another strong-armed snow beating, I walked down the steps of a subway station next to a man carrying a stroller with a young boy in it, whom I will assume is his son, though I may be giving him the benefit of the doubt. The boy was probably just over a year old, old enough to say simple words but could hardly understand the complexities of sentences, let alone dry adult humor. Yet his father was saying,
“Huh, Connor? Can you say, ‘Disgusting?’ ‘Revolting?’ Huh?”
The child was looking at a blank point, whatever happened to be in his line of vision at the time, probably thinking the same thing I was–Really, Dad? “Revolting?” Isn’t that word kind of visceral for what you’re trying to describe, which is really the type of shitty New England weather you should be used to by now? Except the child couldn’t have thought this, because he does not have enough life experience to know that this weather is common, and his father was being a dramamama.
“Can you say, ‘Miserable,’ Connor?”
At this point I was annoyed, if not highly amused, on two levels:
1.) As a lover of words. This man was using whatever adjective struck his fancy, without giving any real consideration to what it was supposed to mean. He did not consider, for example, why the word “miserable” might more accurately describe a child in the throes of a malarial sweat vomiting blood, instead of this moment in his life, when “self-pitying,” or “privileged whinging,” might be more accurate. Because “miserable” is actually a strong word:
2.) As a lover of humans and their future. The little boy did not look old enough to remember this incident (Shiva be praised!), but, unless this man only likes to appear as a shitty parent in public, this kid’s going to get a heaping dose of Daddy Downer until he’s old enough to slam the door behind him in an angsty teenage rage. Which probably means the kid is going to suck–literally. He’s going to suck all the happiness out of any room he enters and replace it with a festering hole of bitter, caustic humor.
I know, because that boy is me.