Thursday, February 01, 2007

Take a moment to belittle the dead

I'm going to preface these next comments with a short description of how I relate to the dead. People who are dead can't hear you. They're beyond caring what you think about them. I'm not about to start saying some slimeball is great because s/he has snuffed it.
When Nixon died everyone suddenly started talking about what a great guy he was. If Watergate was mentioned it was in terms of how much Nixon did for their business. It wasn't dying that makes me think of Nixon fondly. It was looking at George Bush II in comparison that makes Nixon seem like such a great guy.
There was a bully at my school who died when he and his buddies got completely smashed and the pickup truck he was riding in the back of flipped over. Suddenly this guy was Jesus returned. Nobody remembered that he was violent and a bit deranged, had drunk himself into a stupor despite being in high school, and was all around a nasty person.

I mention all this because I found out yesterday that one of the neighbor kids died last weekend. Shot twice in the head.

I knew this kid. He was one of a group who comes by my house after school. They roam the streets like feral animals since their parents either don't care what they're up to or are still at work until late. I play UNO with them and bought Battleship just to keep them busy and maybe learn something in the process. We trade video games and movies and I loan them some of my graphic novels (reprints of comic books in a single bound collection) to work on their reading.

Last summer I was playing Battleship with a couple of the older kids (just entering high school) when the deceased snuck into my house and tried to make off with a Fantastic Four collection he wanted to read but I'd been denying him since I wasn't done reading it. I caught him, took it away, smacked him upside the head with it, and tossed him down the sidewalk. 10 minutes later his mom, cousin, and uncle were over trying to threaten me. That's a whole extra story. The point was that his parent had taught him that "No" means "wait until my back is turned" and rewarded his misbehavior by challenging the person who called him on it instead of punishing him.

He had his good qualities. The kid had leadership skills. He was personable. There was some curiosity in him that other area kids his age don't have. With some different parents and a better school system he could have made something of himself.

On the other hand, he used those leadership skills to get others into trouble. He was often an instigator for trouble. Otherwise well behaved kids would become hyper and loud and need a good smack when he came around. I know of one kid in particular who has a much brighter future without the deceased in the picture.

I expected this to happen to this kid, I just didn't expect it for another 4-5 years.

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