12 Things I'm Too Stubborn to Tell My Father
My father drove faster than my mother and he always had nice cars with numbers in their names, not station wagons or minivans named after slow or stationary objects. He had a radar detector so he could go as fast as he wanted. We listened to his music (Motown, the Animal House soundtrack), and sometimes he'd stop and get a candy bar. My wife's dad would sometimes do the same thing, she says, and this dad connection between us—My dad's eating candy!—still makes me laugh. I lived in fear of having to stop to use the bathroom, but I could tough it out. Most of the time.
8. You should get to know my wife.
She's really amazing. And interesting.
9. Ask yourself how important things are.
Because I'm your son and because we share some traits, I will share with you something I've learned to do: When something upsets me, I take a minute, and ask myself, Is this important? And then I wait another minute, and I ask myself, Seriously, is this important? It has saved me a lot of energy and heartache.
10. I wish we hadn't frozen the way we acted toward one another in the early 90s.
Intellectually, we all know how much we've changed since I was 14, but the instant we get together, I'm back to hearing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on the radio for the first time, or playing ActRaiser on Super Nintendo in the basement. At that age, I was especially awful and depressed and rude. (And maybe smelly—I'm not sure what my deodorant game was like, but boys that age are, by and large, very smelly.) I didn't know how to deal with much of anything, and I felt both very lonely and very much like I should be left alone. It was a strange, mostly awful time, so I don't know why we can't leave it behind forever and ever.
11. I hope there will be a Fifth.
I am named after my father, who was named after his father, who was named after his father. This makes me a fourth. Growing up, if you'd asked me whether I'd name my son The Fifth, I would have said, No way—it was a lot to carry around. I softened my stance, or grew stronger, and then talking to my wife's family, in which everyone is named for someone else, as a succession of history, I realized that the line of James Scotts is pretty incredible.
12. I know you're proud of me.
This is a very recent development. I don't think I could have said this with any certainty even a couple of years ago. But much has changed in my life since then—and in my fathers's life, too. Further, word has trickled down to me from reliable sources about my father bragging about me, which I'm not sure was true when I was memorizing Jim Rice statistics in 1986, and probably wasn't true when I was memorizing Pearl Jam lyrics in 1991, but I'm glad it is now and going forward, which is all that matters.
James Scott is the author of literary, mother-son thriller The Kept.