My dear, Trevor. My obedient, idiotic, heuristic son, Trevor. You lived my dying words for all they were worth. And what were they worth? A fastpass to our reunion.
“Life is an experiment,” I said. “Be a good scientist,” I said.
Well, Trevor, you certainly listened. From the day my remains were placed into that sparsely decorated urn, you wore your ill-fitting suit jacket like a lab coat; twirling your pointer finger around in my ashes, and worst of all, TASTING IT. My God, son—is what I would’ve said if that was anyone else bonding with your saliva and sloshing around your tongue. What troubled me most was your playful laughter, as if you farted in a confessional versus technically becoming a cannibal. From that moment on, I knew watching you debauch my overwrought attempt at an eloquent ending would be as painful as it would be entertaining.
Your teens were nothing short of a horror movie, with “DON’T” being my constant refrain: DON’T try to jump onto that trampoline from a third-story window, DON’T sneak into the girl’s bathroom to see the tampon machine, DON’T play ding dong ditch in a trailer park, DON’T text a picture of your pubes to your friends, DON’T spike the prom punch with peach schnapps, and definitely DO NOT be the guy who streaks their high school graduation. Alas, you ignored my protests like the naive characters beaming from a theater projector, and I had no choice but to watch as you narrowly avoided catastrophe time and time again.
My teenage years were spent dominating spelling bees, conquering quiz bowls, cultivating an Elite Tauren Chieftain—it’s a World of Warcraft reference, and I know by your extracurricular activities you wouldn’t get it—not a single demerit to my name. As a matter of fact, I was the valedictorian of my graduating class, and if one of my peers did decide to disrupt my speech by exposing their privates, I was prepared to unleash the perfect quip; “The only thing funny about you, sir, is the size of your genitals.” I assumed it would be a male. I don’t know what I would’ve done if it was a girl. Regardless, no one did, and my speech was flawless. I wish I could say the same for that bright young woman at the top of your class.
I thought maybe, just maybe, you’d grow out of your exploratory phase by the time you reached college—or I’d be used to it by then. HA! Now who’s naive. I expected you, the same kid who tried to get high by smoking pencil shavings and lost their virginity to the sleeve of my old goose down parka, to squash your self-indulgent trial and error in an unsupervised smorgasbord of mind-altering substances and sexually-aware coeds? You know how kids feel awkward watching a sex scene with their parents? Imagine how I felt watching you contort your way through a mixed-gender fivesome—on multiple occasions, mind you. It’s amazing you even made it past your freshman year, with all the drugs you were ingesting and all the sex you were having. But then again, it’s amazing you got into a college in the first place.
To your credit, you did learn one thing during your three semesters of higher education that I never really got the grasp of; the value of friendship. Whenever you were late for class, there was always someone there to give you their notes or knock on your door or forge your name on the attendance sheet. When the dean of admissions sent you packing—saw that coming—your buddies set you up with a job and a bedroom in less than twenty-four hours. And every year, when the anniversary of my death rolled around, you were surrounded by smiling faces deeming you, “The World’s Greatest Scientist.” Yes, those words were emblazoned on the back of your ceremonial lab coat—nice touch, by the way—but I’ve been watching you long enough to know that most of those people were truly there to chase away the lingering sadness of my premature passing.
Hell, you’ve been shown more love and support as the son of a dead man than I experienced on my death bed. To be fair, a bar is a much easier sell than a hospital room, but I would’ve had just as much trouble filling a Super Bowl suite. I’m sure you, me, your mom, your grandmas and grandpas, your aunts and uncles, your cousins, Jim and Judy Johnson, and Stephen from my office would’ve had a blast, but that was about the extent of my friends list. And even some of them missed my funeral—which is probably why you were able to get away with your cremation taste test. Point is, you had a lot of friends. I just wish they were a little less supportive.
Maybe then you wouldn’t have had the money to go to Taiwan. Maybe then you wouldn’t have been introduced to Taiwanese snake whiskey. Maybe then you wouldn’t have bet that gangster you could jump through fire. Maybe then you wouldn’t have tried to collect your winnings? Maybe then, you wouldn’t have a knife in your chest.
What are you going to say to me once your heart stops beating? Are you going to curse me for giving you the thoughtless piece of advice that led you to an early grave? Are you going to berate me for being such a bore, you couldn’t help but take it?
I can’t believe you are LAUGHING. Don’t you realize you are dying? There is blood spurting through your teeth with every chuckle. There is no one around who can save you. This is game over. Every plan you made for the future is no more. Every milestone you hoped to achieve is officially out of reach. Everything you have been working toward your entire life—your career, your family, your retirement fund—will cease to be.
See you soon, Trevor. We have some catching up to do.