The Responsibility of Knowledge and Compassion

manThe recent details and verdict in the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case seems to have rightly brought a lot of the issues regarding rape front and center. I watched the Melissa Harris-Perry show this weekend and there was a significant discussion centering around sexual assault and how so many of the conversations around the topic have all centered around the woman’s ability to prevent herself from getting raped as opposed to the idea that perhaps, men just shouldn’t rape women.

Oh, and that if you know a woman like Ronnie from The Player’s Club, you should stay away from her at all costs. She’s a woman with a male mentality. Or at least a “male” mentality when it comes to her outlook on how the world works. I do happen to know a woman like her. And yes, she’s in Atlanta. And she may or may not be apart of my family. I’ll never tell.

But, while listening to all of the discussions, I really took a minute to think about the very idea and concept of sexual assault. See, I can honestly say that I’ve spent very little time ever actually concerning myself with it. To be completely real, not until my daughter showed up did I start to really think about the possibility of “bad” things happening. By bad, I mean roughly anything too. Which is odd considering many of the places I’ve lived in life where “bad” things were just commonplace. Perhaps because of my background I’ve just been desensitized to certain violent acts. But nearly all of them involved violence of men towards other men. For me, thats a norm (or was). The fact that violence is a norm is problematic in and of itself, but that’s another talk show.

Let’s just skip the academics and get right to the point. I have four sisters. To my knowledge, none of them have been victims of rape or sexual assault. To my knowledge. But more importantly, I’ve never even thought to ask. It has never dawned on me ’til today, amidst a Twitter “rant” per se, to ever ask any of my sisters – and we’re all close – if they’ve ever had anybody force them to do something against their will.

Then comes the second half of that thought process: I’m afraid to find out.

Think about it, what do you do if you ask your sister, and she says, “yes, I was raped. But I didn’t tell anybody because who was going to believe me?” What do you do if you ask all of your sisters and they tell you that they’ve been the victims of some sort of sexual violence?

I used to date a woman, years ago, who told me that she was the victim of rape when she was very young. I didn’t even know her that well but that bit of information rocked me to my corps. It still does and I haven’t spoken to her in quite some time.

What do you do when somebody that you actually love and care about tells you that something so heinous happened to them? That’s what gets lost to me in so many of the ridiculous commentary and opinions and the whole  idea that a woman can prevent it from happening. Yes, the chick in Steubenville was drunk off her gourd. That doesn’t mean that she asked for it. And considering some of the statements that the main dude made against her, I mean, as his parent…don’t you kind of have to move? If I found out that my child was the one who engaged in those activities and got caught saying stuff like, “she’s basically a dead boy. I just want some sexual attention.” (or whatever exactly it was that he said), I’d be going to jail as well.

Am I ever going to look at my sister and wonder what she did to invite that violence should she tell me something happened to her? Hell no. The rage I’d feel wouldn’t allow me the time to even allow for that. There’s never a reason to violate somebody’s person, no matter what the circumstance and I’m a bit surprised that anybody thinks that is okay. It truly dumbfounds me

But again, I’ve never asked. And as much as it’s on my mind, I’m likely not to ever do that. Part me of believes that if something ever did happen, I’d already know. But part of me also knows that my sisters know that I’ve got a dangerous aspect to my life. One that’s gotten itself into trouble before and who has been a “squeeze first, ask questions last” mentality type of guy. But the other piece is, I’m just not ready for that answer to be “yes.”

I’m just not. That would be real pain to me. The idea that women so strong could be turned helpless and given up on hope while some man (or Ronnie) decided to prove to her that her life wasn’t her own bothers me as I’m writing this.

The thing that makes the Steubenville case so important is that the guys told on themselves and there are like a million “accomplices”. We’ve never had such a window into how a woman was treated so disrespectfully before. Hell, she didn’t even know until she found out via others. I can’t imagine what that feels like.

Ultimately, this entire episode caused me to evaluate my own thoughts because despite being raised around nothing but women, I’ve always viewed them as sisters, not women. But when I realize they’re both sisters AND women, I have to realize that the possibilities are endless. Hell, I don’t even like going out with them because of the attention they get.

Because of where that attention might lead and what that might lead me to (have to) do. Its the proverbial head in the sand approach.

Seems like the approach many of us have taken. The problem is that at some point you have to take a look to see what you’re avoiding, so you can make sure you’re still avoiding it. Hopefully you don’t see a trail of blood and tears.

Because once you know, you know, ya know. And if you know you have to do something, right?

Maybe that’s the problem. And that’s a problem.

-VSB P

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother: In Memory Of…

Admin Note: This may or may not end up being the longest VSB post in history. I won’t know until I finish. I do not intend to stop writing until I feel like I’m done. Bare with me, for I’m not exactly sure where I’m going or how I’m trying to say what I’m about to write.

I still have the message.

*****

Donny Hathaway is my favorite singer of all time. In fact, he’s one of two artists to ever bring tears to my eyes, with the other being Phyllis Hyman. It’s not lost on me that my two favorite vocalists ever both committed suicide.

But Donny Hathaway. I have all of his works. Anything he ever lent his arrangement or vocals to. I’m that big a fan. I have played “Thank You Master (For My Soul)” on repeat for hours on end. On January 13, 1979, Donny Hathaway either fell or threw himself out of a window in New York City to his death. I wouldn’t be born for another six months and somehow, even today, it still pains me that the world lost such a talent and voice.

*****

My brother and I are very different. Well, let’s start at the beginning. He’s not really my brother. We just “grew up” together. I don’t actually remember meeting him. It just seems like he was always there. One day I didn’t know him and the next day we were inseparable. This happened in high school. His mother is my mama. My parents are his parents. He took my little sister to prom and I was okay with it. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother. I love him. I’d literally do anything to make sure he was okay.

I remember once, he needed new glasses. For some odd reason, he just never was able to get medical insurance and couldn’t afford to go to the eye doctor. Well I gave him the glasses off of my face. I had contacts. I’d be okay. He needed glasses. He was happy because he could see again. We were the same age but he was my little brother. His mother always wanted me to be a positive influence on him. I knowt that he loved me to no end but I’m sure that he resented that his mother thought more of my life choices than his.

Of course, this is the same fool who bought 23″ inch rims for a 1987 Nissan Sentra. Real talk, we couldn’t actually make full turns. We had to coast into whatever direction we were trying to take. Needless to say, we never took hard rights. We always had to make a lot of left turns. Guys do really dumb stuff sometimes. But he really liked those rims. They were cool…they just didn’t fit his car.

We’d spend summers in Chattanooga, Tennessee – that’s where he was originally from – hanging with his grandmother and grandfather. They were very, very famous and important people in that area. His grandparents were revered. And they treated me like their own. When he called to tell me that his grandmother was a few days from passing in March 2010, I flew down from DC to Atlanta in the morning, drove to Chattanooga in the afternoon, then back to Atlanta to fly back to DC in the evening just so that I could pay my respects to him and his family. He was my family and his family was mine.

Nobody could have been closer to me that didn’t share actual blood. His son is my godson. There was no question about it. I’d always hear random stories about how my brother would be doing some dumb sh*t and that I needed to talk to him because he wouldn’t listen to anybody but me. In fact, his own mother would often tell me that I needed to talk to him for that reason. Not that he was a bad guy at all. To the contrary, very, very few people ever had a bad word to say about him. His heart was pure and he always wanted everybody to be happy and be alright. Because of that he’d often find himself used and end up making some bad decision because of it. Hell, he actually married the neighborhood ho. I was the best man. Nobody could talk him out of that decision….great wedding though. It was hood as hell but man was it fun. And I couldn’t have been happier to be there for him.

The goal in life was for me to make it as some hugely successful entrepreneur or something and then bring him along for the ride. That’s what big brothers do. You take care of your siblings. On one trip from Huntsville, Alabama, to Jackson, Michigan, we drove up I-65. Somewhere just south of Nashville are these two houses that sit about 300 yards apart. We’d always planned on someday buying those houses and settling down there; me with my wife and kids and him being the coolest uncle ever. He beat me to both the wife and kids (and also to the divorce and baby mama). For some reason, this dude liked to beat me to everything. It’s like his life wasn’t complete unless he tried everything once, positive or negative.

But his heart? Pure. He was the kind of guy to give his life for another.

*****

My daughter used to have an interesting array of medical issues. Nothing too serious, but when she gets sick, she gets sick. We’ve been to the hospital late at night enough times to be familiar with Children’s Hospital. She’s not sickly, just occasionally sick. But she is also a baby so things like croup turn into bigger problems so  you have to be proactive.

Around 1130pm on January 12, 2011, my daughter’s mother called me to let me know that my daughter was having trouble breathing and kept coughing which was exacerbating the problem. She said she was taking her to the ER. She picked me up on the way. I refuse to not be there if something’s going on. I know she always wants mommy, but daddy will be standing right there in case mommy needs to go to the bathroom. Forever.

We spent something like three hours at the ER. Not a bad stint considering how long you can stay there. I got home around 345am. John Q was on. I watched the rest of it. That is one deep movie. The extent for which he was willing to go to save his child’s life is always moving to me. I mean, he was willing to do whatever to save his child’s life.

I must have gone to sleep at like 430am.

At 635am, my phone rang. I recognized the area code but not the number. Not sure why but I let it ring instead of answering it. I laid back down and waited to see if there was a message. I’ve never been a stranger to random early morning phone calls from home.

The voicemail alert went off. I checked the message.

“******** this is your boy *********. ****** was in a really bad accident, man. Call me back. It’s not looking too good, I just…like…call me back…we’re all here…”

I sat up wide awake.

I still have the message.

******

My brother lived in a house in Huntsville, Alabama. I went to high school there. In this house there were several electrical issues. One of which was a broken heat unit. This was a particularly cold winter. Especially for Alabama.

At about 2am, one of two space heaters in the living room of the house caught fire. It engulfed the old house very quickly. There were five people in the house. My brother, his girlfriend and her two children, and our other boy who lived there. My brother got out with his girlfriend and one of her daughters. My boy managed to get out a window.

But one of the little girls was stuck in the living room where the space heater was. My brother, not even thinking, went directly back into the house trying to find her.

He never made it back out. He and the little girl both died in the living room of that house. The roof collapsed. The smoke enveloped. Their souls ascended.

He was out. But he thought nothing less than to go back in and save the other child because that’s what you do. I know him. I know that without hesitation he ran back in there without thinking of what might happen to him.

While I was at the ER with my daughter trying to make sure she was okay, my brother was dying in a fire some 700 miles away.

January 13, 2011.

At about 815am, I got another phone call from one of my other boys who was nearly as close to me as my brother: “P, he’s gone….he’s gone. He passed away. I have to go.”

I immediately broke down into tears. I also had no idea where to go. I’ve never felt so alone in my entire life. I just kept looking at the sky trying to find him. Or praying that I’d get a phone call that it wasn’t real. I saw my cousin get murdered. That hurt. But hearing that my brother died…that was actual pain. I can still feel it.

If you read VSB, there’s a week back in January of 2011 where Champ wrote for two weeks straight, or something like it. I was gone. I couldn’t write. I was fortunate enough to get support from those I loved and those that loved me. From both likely and unlikely sources. Sources that I never got a chance to thank for their support. I owe them that. I went home and as soon as I touched down in Alabama, I broke down into tears. I cried on the whole drive from the airport to my parent’s home. I cried on the way to my brother’s house. I cried when I saw his son. I cried and cried. I tried to keep myself together since everybody was waiting on me to get in, but I couldn’t do it. I cried when I spoke at the funeral. I cried when we interred him.

I cried.

******

I know that part of the pain of losing a loved one is the loss of future memories. I know that. I realize that. But I just feel like my brother’s time wasn’t up. Nobody who cared about people that much should go that early. He wasn’t supposed to beat me to death. He just wasn’t. At least he will always be considered a hero. He gave his life trying to save the life of somebody else. And for that I will always be able to remember him the way I always hoped everybody else would: a selfless man who cared about others.

It annoyed me reading newspapers where they said a 31-year-old man lost his life. I just felt like he’s so much more than that. Not just a man. He was a brother, a son, a father, an uncle, a great person.

Sigh.

But that’s because he matters to me.

*******

Yesterday was his birthday. August 12, 1979. It’s always hard for me because I suppose I’m still hoping that it’s not true and that I’ll call him one day and he’ll answer.

August, 12, 1979 – January 13, 2011.

******

Donny Hathaway and my brother both passed on January 13, something that dawned on me as I took the podium to speak at the funeral. Two of my favorite people passed on the same day. His family asked me to speak. That’s how close we were. Family members I didn’t even know asked me to speak at his funeral. I still speak to them now. Just like I still speak to his son. They’re my family.

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother. Thank you master, for my soul.

I’ll see you when I get there.

There’s no way I can truly put into words how I feel. I can’t even fully try. I miss my brother. And the realization that this will be a permanent feeling is defeating.

I believe to my soul.

******

And…I still have the message.

RIP.

-VSB P

April Showers: In Memory Of…

Y’all gon’ have to forgive me, because today I just feel like sharing.

I remember when my life changed.

I don’t know if everybody experiences life changing moments or goes through events that cause them to really consider life and all of its possibilities or not, but it happened to me.

The problem for me is that the very experience that changed my life is one where somebody else’s life came to an end. And that is something I’ve been dealing with for 12 years now. I only have one real regret in life. But over time, I realize that had I done something different that night, and thereby erasing my regret, I might have ended the lives of two other people. Not just the one person who’s life did end that night.

April is the birthday month of my cousin. Or would be if he was still alive. April 21. It’s a day that for years has pained me, since for the past 12 years, I’ve never been able to get to Atlanta to celebrate his birthday with my family. Every time I do make it back to Atlanta, one of the first stops I always make is to the cemetery to visit the grave of my cousin, and now my grandmother as well, who is buried right next to him. Just as God intended them to be.

One night, in July 2000, my younger cousin and I went to the movies. We saw Scary Movie . I don’t even remember if it was funny or not. I do remember a conversation my cousin and I had about religion and our upbrining in the church and how we felt at the time. I was 21 and she was 19. The movie was over at about 1135pm. We lived on the Westside of Atlanta, Adamsville to be exact, and we were at Magic Johnson’s in Greenbriar. It takes about 10 minutes to get from Greenbriar to my grandmother’s house. We got there are about 1147pm.

My grandmother’s house has a split driveway. You can either pull into the left side or the right side. I pulled into the right side. Parked. And walked into the basement door. As I was walking in, my cousin, T, was walking out. He would go to our grandmother’s house every day at least once to check on his mother and my grandmother, who would cook dinner for him everyday. You get things like that when you are grandma’s right-hand man. I hadn’t seen him in about a week, maybe. Which wasn’t normal. Not that anything was up, he would either stop by my spot to see me or we’d meet up at my grandmother’s house to say what’s up a few times a week. We have a pretty tightknit family like that.

T: What’s up folk, I ain’t seen you like a week, cuz. What’s up, you ain’t got love for your cuz no more?

Me: What’s up T, you know good and well I love you man. I’ll give you a call in a day or two.

*dapping up in black man handshake hug*

T: Alright, folk. I’ll holla at you later. Bye momma…

He walked outside.

I started to walk towards the stairs. At this point there is about 10 feet between us. He’s outside, I’m inside.

My other cousin, who is his little sister, is between the two of us. And then it happened. He yelled, “don’t hit me folk!!!”

He was gone.

1148pm.

Shot once in the heart. Died instantly.

I honestly never heard the gunshot. And to this day that bothers me. Everybody else heard it but I didn’t hear it so for a second I was confused at what I was seeing. I didn’t see anybody else’s face. I just saw T laid out on the ground, his car door open…

A total of 30 seconds at most passed between the time I got to the driveway and he was killed. At my grandmother’s house.

Which means that whoever did it, was there when I pulled up and must have been hiding in the shadows of my grandmother’s carport, which is literally right next to the door we walked into.

Do you remember the scene in Menace II Society where Stacey is trying to revive Kaine after he was shot? That was us. We were shaking him and trying to wake him up, refusing to believe he was gone. Little did we know he was already dead. One of the paramedics told me that later that he died instantly. At least there wasn’t any pain. I had to make all of the phone calls to the family because I was the only person who could hold the phone. There were four other people in the house when it happened. My aunt (his mother), my grandmother, and his two sisters, one of which went to the movies with me. One of his sisters ran into the street and collapsed. His mother lost it as well. My grandmother and other cousin, both of who have the strongest relationships with God of anybody I’ve ever met, both cried, and then prayed.

It took about 10 minutes for it to dawn on me.

The person who killed my cousin had every opportunity to kill me. He had to have seen my face and my other cousin’s as well. For all we knew, he KNEW us. I was afraid to go to my grandmother’s house, or anywhere else for that matter for a week.

I could have died that night. Had I made the decision that would have erased my regret, and parked on the other side of the driveway, I would have seen him, and he might have killed me and my cousin in order to get away. He was clearly going to kill somebody that night. He came there to complete a job. He succeeded.

And that changed my life. I don’t really remember my demeanor before it all happened. I know I was still a happy person and that I wasn’t very negative in nature. But now…

…it’s hard for me to get upset or really depressed. I have my moments like everybody else. But losing my cousin like that, and being so close to the situation and realizing it could have been me, well, everyday I’m alive I’m happy to be here. I have quite a few friends who have asked me how I seem to be so happy or jovial so often and why not much gets me down. I nearly always respond: because I’m alive. Life has been good to me. And it took that day to make me realize just how lucky I am.

My family was scared for me for quite a few days. My father in particular. I was leaving for a summer program in DC a week later so it was a very tense week in my neighborhood for me. I was scared. But somehow, I was just thankful to be alive. I feel that way lots of times. I have a weird peace in my life nowadays. Some things suck, but it takes me very little time to get over certain stuff. I realized how much I love and value my family.

I love life and living. I appreciate every day that I get. Even the people that drive me crazy are appreciated. Not being afraid to live is one of the best feelings ever. Sure I slack at times, but I know that life is grand and that my cousin is looking down on us while he and my grandmother play backgammon in heaven, something I could never play on Earth.

For a good year, I got really nervous at my grandmother’s house. Even today, every time I walk by the spot it happened, I have to look over and stare for a while. I can’t get the vivid imagery out of my head, and I’m not sure I ever will. It’s part of me now.

I miss my cousin a lot. At least I got a chance to tell him that I loved him. Anytime we have a family function, everybody always makes sure to mention T and make sure we remember him. And because my family is tres ghetto, somebody always shows up with their RIP t-shirt. I myself have two of them.

So every April 21, on his birthday, I make sure to give thanks for his life and remember his death. My life is what it is now because of him.

Always missed, always loved. When they reminisce over you…

One thing that experience taught me is that we’ve all got stories. And that you’d be amazed what people have been through if you just listen. If you’ve got something to share, feel free. If not, that’s all good.

I know it’s heavy for a Friday, but I’ve been hesitant to write about this for years on this site. And today I felt like sharing.

Welcome to Panama’s City.

-VSB P

 PS: For your reading pleasure, check out Champ’s latest article at Ebony, “5 Reasons Kim and Kanye are a Match Made in Heaven”. And for those looking for more philosophical fodder, check out Panama’s latest at Guyspeak, “What’s Worse: The Pr0n Star or The Ex?”

Spouse, Parents…or Kids: Who Should Rank “First?”

Decisions, Decisions

While teasing a few Patriots fans on Facebook yesterday (Even though it may be blasphemous for me to admit this as a Steeler fan, I dislike the Pats more than I dislike the Ravens. To repeat something I said on Twitter a couple weeks ago, if the Ravens are beets — a food I thoroughly dislike, but respect — the Pats are beets…covered in sh*t), I saw something in my news feed that caught my eye.

I happen to be friends with Anslem of Naked With Socks On fame, and if you’re familiar with him at all you probably know that he’s recently married and just launched a joint blog with his wife — who’s also a writer. Anyway, the thing that caught my eye was a new post on their blog titled “My Mama or My Wife: Who’s the No. 1 Woman in a Man’s Life?” — a piece where Anslem wonders exactly how his marriage has affected the decades-old dynamic he has with his mother.

It’s funny how there are certain questions in life that you never think about until you have to. I found myself faced with one of those questions the other day: Who do I love more my mama or my wife?

At any other point in my life if I were posed with a question that pitted my mother against any other person, place or thing in the world and the woman who gave me life would win hands down every time. No questions asked. None needed. But recently my ability to answer such a question with absolute and immediate conviction began to waver a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother unconditionally and with all my heart but I can say similar things about my wife. Unlike the latter, though, the Mrs. is someone I chose to love. Somehow that makes this different.

Hmmm.

Now, because the loves are so drastically different, attempting to categorize the love one has for a husband or wife and the love one has for parents doesn’t seem to be possible. It’s like asking someone “Which do you need more? Water or your heart?” — both extremely vital, but both serving completely different functions.

But, the more you think about, the more you realize your answer has to be your spouse. They’re the ones you’re choosing to start a life with, the ones you vow to be with until death, the “top spot on any beneficiary form.” Basically, if your spouse doesn’t supersede all, you shouldn’t be getting married. Everything and everyone else should become secondary…including your children.

I imagine that most of you all were with me until those last three words. “Yeah, Champ. You’re right. As much as I love Mom Dukes, my wife has to be number one. Really, what’s the point of marrying someone if they don’t automatically get that number one spot, and…what? Wait? What? Kids? My wife should take priority over the people we bring into this Earth??? Can’t roll with you on this one, man”

Lemme explain.

I think that the best families operate through a hierarchical matrix that goes something like this:

Parents, as a collective unit and as individual people, should value their kids lives over their own. Their primary duty as parents is to protect and provide for the people they’ve created, and if they were forced to make a choice between their lives — individually or as a collective parental unit — or their children’s lives, it should be a no-brainer.

But, the parents as individuals should love and value each other more than they do their children.

You know I can’t make a point without including some contrived analogy that actually ends up confusing more than it clarifies, so…

Let’s imagine a four person family (two parents, two kids) was on the Titanic. The ship is sinking, and there’s only room on the lifeboat for two people. In this situation, the parents should definitely put the kids in the lifeboat — sacrificing their collective lives for the lives of their children.

Now, let’s say you’re on that same sinking ship, and you were knocked off the boat, but the sea current miraculously led you to the shore. Once you get out the water, you glance off the shore and see that your spouse and your young child are in the water behind you, struggling to stay afloat. You can only save one, though. In this situation, as heart-wrenching and devastating as this decision may be, you reach down and save your spouse…even if your spouse doesn’t want to be the one to be saved.

The (somewhat morbid) rationale behind this? If you believe your spouse was put on Earth to be your spouse, they’re irreplaceable. (And, if you don’t believe this, you probably shouldn’t be getting married…but that’s another topic for another day.) Your kids, as precious as they are, aren’t as irreplaceable. (I hate the way that sentence sounds, but there’s really no other way to put it.)

Heh. I just had a vision that, years (YEARS, I TELL YOU. YEARS!!!¹) from now, some precocious little big-headed boy that (hopefully) looks more like his mother than me will be googling his daddy’s name, searching for any information he can find on me. He’ll come across this article, read the entire thing (because he’s a smart motherf*cker just like his dad), frown, find me sitting on the couch, and ask “Is it true that you’d let me die.”

Me: “Ummm…well…ummm”

Champ Jr (CJ): “That’s ok Dad. I understand. That’s what you’re supposed to do. When I get a wife someday, I’ll let you die too.”

Me: “I taught you well and sh*t, son. I taught you well and sh*t.” 

¹Knocking on wood

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Is Parenthood Losing Its Luster?

In the past couple of months, I’ve spoken on a panel, attended two parties in DC, participated in two photoshoots, and contributed to a relationship roundtable discussion. I’ve also attended numerous events in the Pittsburgh-area — happy hours, mixers, meetings, brunches, house parties, game nights; you name it, I’ve been there. In that time, I’ve probably met and/or talked to at least 150 to 200 different people in the 25 to 35 age range. Mostly African-American, mostly educated, and mostly well-adjusted.

And, in these dozens upon dozens of conversations, one overarching theme always seemed to repeat itself.

No one, I repeat, NO ONE wants to have kids

I realize that I’m being (a little) hyperbolic. I know that the people I talked to were mainly comprised of never-married-before grad students and young professionals — people who’d probably be less likely to have kids and less likely to want them than the general populace. Also, I did not discuss child raising and child bearing with each of these people I met and/ or talked to. In fact, the last time I met and/or talked to a large group of people — last Saturday at Reminisce (the monthly 90′s party VSB helps throw at Liv Nightclub in D.C.) — the main topics of discussion were “Do you want a shot?“, “Why is she in the men’s bathroom?“, “What’s your name?“, and “Wait…I can’t hear you. The music is too loud. WHAT’S YOUR NAME????”

But, whenever having children and families did happen to be brought up, ambivalence was easily the most popular answer. It’s not that they definitely don’t want kids, it’s just that they’re definitely not sure about it and it doesn’t seem like it would be the end of their world’s if they never had them. Surprisingly, this mindset isn’t held about marriage. While people definitely have their doubts about the institution of marriage, lifelong monogamy, and actually being married, we still generally do envision ourselves walking down the alter eventually. Kids just seem to muck things up.

I’ve been wondering why so many seem to feel this way. Having children is, frankly, the reason why we’re here. Why is it that so many of us are apathetic towards what should be the most natural human instinct? Since I couldn’t track down each of these people to ask them why, I figured I’d just ask a guy I have access to, a person who feels just as (if not more) “Eh” about having children: Me.

Champ: So Champ, tell me: Why don’t you want to have children?

Champ: Good question. Before I begin, I just wanted to say that I think you’re an awesome writer. You’re a f*cking rock star, man.

Champ: Thanks.

Champ: No problem. Anyway, it’s not that I don’t want to have kids. I love kids. What man hasn’t fantasized about having a Mini-Me following him around, mimicking him, and generally just always thinking that he’s biggest and best person on Earth? I’m also curious about what type of parent I’d be and what type of person I’d mold. I mean, all parents love their kids, but would I actually like mine?

Most importantly, since I probably wouldn’t have a child out of wedlock (knocking on wood), this tiny person would be a physical manifestation of the love his/her mother and I share. I imagine us (my wife and I) sitting on the couch and watching our kid do kid things while we give ourselves a look that says “Look at what we did!”

Thing is, each of the last couple of paragraphs represent gravy to me. They’re non-essentials, gift bags for the soul. I don’t need to be a father to feel fulfilled, to feel purposeful, to feel loved, and I don’t feel any earthly duty to procreate.

Perhaps this mindset — which seems to be more and more popular — is proof of our burgeoning egoism and self-involvement. We don’t want to have kids because those little motherf*ckers will slow us down. Maybe it’s evolution. We’re lucky enough to live in a place and a time where it’s no longer necessary to have children to help you plow the fields and milk the cows and sh*t.

Also, I wouldn’t discount the effect the internet has had on us. Historically, our drive to have children has always been tied to legacy. Basically, since we can’t live forever, we leave a piece of ourselves behind so a part of us does. But, with the advent of social media and everyone being able to carve out their own little niche in the universe, perhaps this fills that legacy need.

Champ: Wow. That was a great freakin answer. I’m officially in awe.

Champ: Yea. Sometimes I even impress myself. Hmm. Perhaps I should reconsider this child having thing to see if I can create something even awesomer than me.

Champ: Perhaps you should

So, you have the Champ’s answer. People of VSB, what’s yours? Do you find that more and more people seem to be “Eh” about having children? Why do you think that is? Also, how do you personally feel about being a parent?

—The Champ