It started small. A stray comment here and there. One night, we were watching the news, and the anchor mentioned something about a local hero stopping a barn fire. Our son, Brendan, made a dismissive grunt and spat on the ground. We didn’t know what to make of it.
His attitude toward women has become especially troubling. He completely ignores his mother and acts as if she isn’t even there! That is until he becomes confused by something. Then he wants her to come in, deliver some exposition to get him back on track, then he sends her on her way again. It’s baffling. We raised him to understand that women are just as complex and fully realized as men. They are not vessels to convey convoluted information about “magic bullets,” whatever the hell that means.
He seems to have really taken to Jesse Eisenberg’s character in the film. I haven’t seen the movie, but based on the trailers, Jesse Eisenberg seems to be playing… Jesse Eisenberg with longer hair? Anyway, we’ve always considered Brendan to be a very logical, straightforward problem solver. Since seeing Eisenberg’s performance, however, he takes the most nonsensical, roundabout routes to solving any problem. We told him we were out of hot dog buns the other night, and he suggested we drive to the grocery store, verbally threaten a clerk, set fire to a bush out front, pee into a mason jar, then play several games of Monopoly. How does that help him get hot dog buns??? Not to mention he delivered all of this as if his mouth was a Tommy gun. We had to ask him to s-l-o-w down and repeat himself several times. Also: get those flailing wrists under control, son.
He’s just become so dour. Our little boy used to enjoy wearing bright colors. He used to make jokes. Now all he does is wear black leather and grimace. We ask him what’s wrong and he just spouts long-winded, pseudo-intellectual, philosophical bullshit. “If God is all-powerful, He cannot be all good. And if He is all good, then He cannot be all-powerful.” Uh, pardon me, Brendan, but what the shit is that?
His most annoying new tendency by far is that he won’t stop teasing things he plans on doing in the future. We tell him it’s bathtime, he reminds us that tomorrow he’ll also be taking a bath. We ask him what he did at school today, he stops in the middle of the story to allude to the Book Fair next week. We tell him we’re going to the beach this weekend, he tells us with absolute certainty that we’ll be taking a trip to Disneyland four years from now. That’s not necessarily true! Who knows if we’ll even have money for that? Who knows if this beach trip will be successful enough to warrant future vacations?
We’re really at a loss as to how to proceed. We tried showing him Sam Raimi’s Spider Man 2 as a means of course correction, but to no avail. He merely responded by calling Tobey Maguire a “pussy,” which you better believe landed him in the timeout corner faster than you can say, “Tobey Maguire is a national treasure.”
Brendan, if someone is reading this aloud to you, like me, right now, just know that your mother and I are worried about you. We don’t want to see you become a shitty movie. We want your life to have a coherent plotline. We don’t want you to subscribe to troubling ideologies about the nature of good in the world. We want you to have a sense of humor. We want you to respect women. We want you to cool it with the Christ imagery.
Above all else, just know that we love you. Even if that love plummeted a record-breaking 81% after opening weekend.
Illustration by Rose Montgomery