A Letter To My Mother – Happy Mother’s Day

May 4, 2013
Saturday, 9:22 PM

I’m a week early, but it’s better to be a week early than a week late…

Dear Mother,

It was a cold day on December 10, 1977 in Somerset, Pennsylvania.  The maximum temperature was 13 degrees fahrenheit, with a low temperature of 2 degrees.  I looked it up online.  They keep record of these sorts of things if you can believe it.  Anyone can look it up if they’re curious, and well, you know that your son has a curious mind for things that most people don’t care to know about, so I looked it up.

I was born on a Saturday morning at 9:45 AM, just a few weeks before Christmas, which is why you and Dad settled on the name Christopher.  I don’t know where the Paul came from.  I never thought to ask before, but I think it was because you and Dad liked the biblical character, Paul.  I looked up the meaning of the name, and the name Paul means “small” or “humble.”

I came into this world weighing 7 pounds and 10 ounces, and measured 20 1/2 inches in length.  Having your ass smacked by the nurse and being covered in all that goop is a pretty humble beginning for any child, so I guess the name was suitable for your early Christmas present.  Christopher Paul was born.

Birth Certificate

Pictured are your newborn son’s foot prints in black ink, and right below them are your thumbprints marked with the same black ink.  When the nurse took my feet to the ink pad –  most likely kicking and screaming, and hopefully taking a whizz all over her – there was no telling where those tiny feet would end up some 35 years later.

Would your son become a teacher?   Would he become a missionary?   Would he get into trouble and spend half his life rotting away in jail?

Would your son get married?   Would he have kids someday?  Would he be content to remain single just like the character Paul did in the Bible?

Would your son be healthy?  Would there be complications from birth?  Or heavens forbid, would your son pass away and leave this Earth far too early?

These are the questions that a mother never knows when she decides to have a child, but she swipes her thumbs along the ink pad and presses them firmly to the paper with a lot of uncertainties and no guarantees for her son’s future, other than the guarantee that she will try to love him as best she can.  But even that is something that you can’t predict no matter a mother’s best intentions from the beginning.  So you were left with a lot of questions and worries about your newborn son on that cold, winter day in December.

5 Year Old Hands

Pictured is a photocopy of your son’s hands when I was five.  They’re chubby, little hands smushed against the glass.

There were some answers to be had by the time I was five.  You knew that I was kind and had a tender heart.  I made you many colorful drawings of flowers and birds with the words scribbled in crayon “I love you.”  You knew that I embodied a creative soul and enjoyed making art with crayons, pencils, pens, markers, finger paint and anything that my little, chubby, five year old hands could get a hold of.

You knew that I had an inquisitive mind and enjoyed reading books and looking things up in the Encyclopedia, but I also enjoyed making up my own stories a lot of the times.  You knew that I was a people person, but you also knew that I had a very independent spirit.  Many times I left to go explore the great wide open, wearing nothing but underwear and a pair of Moon Boots as I went trouncing off into the backwoods by myself for the day.

You knew that I was a bundle full of energy, hated taking naps, didn’t mind eating vegetables, and was a real pain in the ass sometimes, to the point that I almost drove you literally insane, with much help from my other siblings, of course.

You had a sense of who I was, but still, there were a lot of questions left unanswered about your son’s future, and the worrying from a mother continued.

35 Year Old Hands

Pictured is a scan of your son’s hands taken just a few days ago at the age of 35.  Those little, chubby hands grew and grew and grew, and they became too big to fit on the glass anymore, so that’s why parts of them are cut off.

A lot of questions about your son have been answered over the years.   Your son got a job working in the film industry through a lot of hard work and a little luck.  I’ve never been married and have no kids.  I’ve been blessed with good health so far.  I prefer a simple life, have no television, coffee maker, toaster oven, and live in a small apartment in Pittsburgh.  I enjoy cutting up, entertaining others, but I can also hold a serious conversation with the best of them.  Your son is happy with his life for the most part.  But still, there are a lot of questions left unanswered for a mother.

When I was born, you knew that there would always be questions and worrying, but you made your thumbprints on the paper anyhow, claiming me as your son.   You were committed from that day forward despite the many uncertainties that life throws at a person, for better or for worse.

I don’t know where my hands and feet will take me the remaining years on this planet.  Somedays I dream big, and somedays I’m content to do absolutely nothing at all.  Somedays I think it would be nice to be married, and somedays I prefer to be left alone.  Somedays I think about moving to a new town, and somedays I want to live in Pittsburgh forever.  These hands and feet seem to have a mind of their own, so there’s no telling where they’ll end up one day.  I wish that I had the answers to ease your worrying mind, but that’s the part of life that I seem to thrive on best.  The unknown.

Really the only answer to any questions that I’ve ever needed was for someone to love me unconditionally and to support me when this curious mind gets him into trouble.  You’ve fielded many angry phone calls from principals, teachers, neighbors, parents, church ladies, police officers, park rangers, and from the college Dean.  I’ve gotten many scoldings and spankings as a child, but afterwards, you took the time to sit me down to explain how things in life are supposed to work, despite my resistance to want to know.

You knew my heart better than those fussy people who liked to point fingers and yell that your son was a problem child, when I was only being a curious boy.  You were patient and committed to your son, despite the many headaches having a curious boy can cause for a mother.

I wanted to leave you with something that my chubby hands created when I was six.  It’s a drawing of a flower that I colored with crayons on white construction paper.  It’s ripped and torn to pieces, but you taped it up, or somebody taped it up, and you saved it after all these years.  It must have been special for you, because when you gave me a box of keepsakes that you kept of mine over the years, including this one, you started crying.

I’m not a mother, so I can only guess as to what the crying fit was all about.  I just figured it’s because it must be difficult for a mother to come to the realization that her son is no longer made up of tiny feet and little smushed up hands on the photocopier glass.  A mother sits around at night when the house is empty, and wishes that she could still hold her son tight in her arms and kiss those tiny feet goodnight.  But time marches on, so maybe that’s what spurred on the tears that day – seeing your son all grown up in the kitchen that day.  I don’t know.  I didn’t think to ask you that either, because it made me uncomfortable to see you crying, and my feet just wanted to get going.

Mothers Day Card 1Mothers Day Card 2

Your small and humble son would just like to say thanks for always being there for me and loving me like only a mother can love her child.  I know that I’m handful.  I know that I’ve left you with more questions than probably most sons, but I guess my answer to all your questions would be this.  Even though I’ve grown to be a young man and those tiny feet are now a size 11, my heart is still the same as your tender five year old who enjoyed making you drawings of flowers and birds.  It doesn’t matter where my hands and feet take me, as long as my tender heart is leading the way.  So try not to worry.  Try to put all the questions to rest.

Next time I see you, we’ll drink some Franzia boxed wine, and have a good laugh remembering all the old stories of how I almost drove you to the loony bin.  You deserve a medal, but a crumpled up flower will have to do.

Happy Mother’s Day.  I’m sorry that I forgot to wish you that last year.  I know that it hurt your feelings.  It was just a bad year for all of us in the family, so that’s why this year I wanted to make it up to you as best I can.  With a crumpled up flower from 1983.  Some lousy son I am.  HA!  Guess you’re stuck with me, hands and feet and all.

I love you,

Christopher Paul

Advertisements

A Letter To My Mother – Free Spirit & Wieners

April 20, 2013
Saturday, 1:31 PM

771 Dimwits and counting…

Mother,

I didn’t know which of the 16 email accounts of yours to send this to, so I decided to post it here.   Hopefully it finds you, and hopefully it’s during a time when you just got back in from the warm sunshine and time spent admiring your flowers that you enjoy more than anything.

750 new followers in just over a week.  This is crazy, huh?  I’ve got wives reading my stories to husbands, and mothers reading my stories to daughters.  Stories about wieners and Sally Jessy Ralphael’s feathered hair.  Can you believe it?  It’s wild.  I don’t know what’s happening, but of course what’s new. I never know what’s happening, and that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.

You know how your free spirited, kind hearted, adventurous, and yes, your rather mischievous son of yours just seems to go along with life.  It’s gotten me this far, so there’s no use in changing it now.  Well, remember that time you and Dad sat me down right after I graduated college?  You might not remember it, but I do.  It was in the living room, and it was quiet.  If I didn’t know any better, it might’ve been my own funeral that I was attending.

You and Dad wore somber, stern faces.  You told me to sit down, so I did.  On the couch directly across the room, not far away from your somber, stern faces.  I had an idea of what was coming, some sort of boring lecture with me having to say a lot of uh-huhs in between.  I’ve gotten my fair share of lectures from you, and from others, so I kinda get a sense of when they’re coming.

It was a lecture all right.  I know you meant well, and I’m not here to put you down or anything like that.  Mothers do the best they can – well hopefully.  The good ones do anyways, and you’re a good one.   But here’s what you told me.  You and Dad told me to cage my free spirit.  You didn’t say those words exactly, but what you meant was to put my free spirit inside a box, and put him up in the attic with all the other dusty toys.  I was to be a man now.  Stop playing games and get some direction in life.   Some goals, a job, a career, maybe a wife, some kids, and all that other sorta stuff.

Well, I didn’t want to be a man.  From all I saw at the time, being a man meant cheating husbands, divorced dads, drunks, liars, punchers, spitters, and those that like to give lectures about how I’m to play life by the rules, and become a man.

I was 21.  I knew more about being a man than the asshole telling me I had better be a man, after I knew flat out that he had just beat his wife senseless a few nights ago.  My friend told me.  He was in tears.  And now that man had the gull to tell me I had better become a man.  Well, I had the gull to shut my mouth and say “uh-huh.”  I knew more about being a man than him, and sometimes as a man you gotta know when to shut your mouth and say uh-huh, because it’s not worth the fight at the time.  There are other ways to go about winning a fight without shouting, and cursing, and more fighting.  So I left it at that:  Uh-huh.

I guess this is my usual, long-winded, rambling just to tell you this, and then to follow it up with a little more rambling to wrap things up.  I never put that free spirit in a cage.  I never boxed him up.  I kept him free, and I guess that’s why people like my stories about wieners and Franzia boxed wine, and all that other stuff.

They’re free spirits too.  They’re dimwits.  There’s a whole mess of us out there, and they enjoy someone who can spin a good tale, tell a whopper of a story filled with craziness and madness, but also full of love and hope.  Those are the two most important ingredients to a story, because without love and hope, you might as well just read from the dictionary.  The thing with telling a good story is you gotta have a free spirit to be able to tell it, so that’s why I kept him free.  That and it just never made all that much sense to me why anyone should keep anything in a cage.

Thanks for being a good mom.  I usually never tell you that, maybe even never.  Probably because I’m too busy telling tall tales instead, but I was just thinking it’s probably nice and important for a mother to hear that from her son.  It’s a lot of hard work raising kids.  Not a lot of credit, late nights, no sleep, and lousy sons who make you cry when they send you letters.

I know you’re crying right now.  Just like when I can sense a lecture, I can usually sense when someone’s gonna cry, too.  I can sense a lot of things.  Some say it’s a gift, but sometimes it’s a curse too.  It can take a lot out of you with all the sensing going on all the time, and no way to turn it off.  Rather than whine about a gift that others would kill to have, it feels nice to make good use of it finally.  Wieners!  HA.

So stay tuned.  Your son is going places that only a free spirit can lead a person, and he’s taking a TON of dimwits along with him!  It’s going to be a fun ride.  It will be interesting at the very least.

Love,

Your son.  The dimmest of all the dimwits.  The dunce.  The doofus.

Chris

PS.  Sorry to include this photo of you with a scrunchy face, that looks like you just caught a whiff of a dog turd, but you didn’t really think the Dimwit was gonna end without a good laugh, did you?  Toodles.

The Dimwits Mom

A Note From a Haitian Girl – I Want You to Be My Friend For Ever and Ever

A few of my family members recently returned from a mission trip to Haiti.  Seeing their photos and reading their stories has left me with Haiti on the brain even more than usual, so I thought I’d share a touching story of my own.

I was blessed to be part of a team that traveled to Haiti in March of 2012.  There were thirteen of us.  The team was comprised of five family members, seven members from my hometown church, and myself.  It was a good mix of young and old, guys and gals, the medically trained (two nurses and a doctor) and the clinically insane (my mother).

team squirt

Our group was affectionately dubbed as “Team Squirt” after the majority of us were stricken with giardia and experienced severe bouts of explosive diarrhea when we returned to the States.  It was pretty awesome – the trip, not the explosive diarrhea – but it was a very small price to pay in exchange for the time we spent with the beautiful Haitian people.

Team Squirt stayed at an orphanage in the city of Cap-Haitien for a week.  Our primary objective was to provide food and medical relief to the needy, and to help around the orphanage where needed. At least that was the rest of the team’s objective.  My objective was to introduce the orphanage kids to old school hip-hop and R&B artists, and to hold late night dance-offs, perfecting dance moves like the Moonwalk and the Cabbage Patch with the children.

Dance Party 4
One of our evening dance parties at the orphanage.  I brought my wireless, bluetooth speakers and loaded my iPod with jams.  The kids placed the speakers up in the rafters and we danced the night away on tables.

Dance Party 1
We took our translators and their respective families out to dinner one night at a nice restaurant.  After dinner, the sun went down and the dance party fired up.  We danced for well over an hour, having the time of our lives.

Dance Party 6
The youngest member of the dance crew, but don’t be fooled.  This little girl was all spunk and brought some legit moves to the dance floor.

Dance Party 3
Me teaching sweet, little Jacqueline how to do the “Shimmy Shake.”  He laughed at first, but after a while I think he grew concerned for my well being.

three amigos
Some of the teenage members of the dance crew. They tried to teach me how to Dougie, but after six days and five nights of failed attempts, they eventually submitted to the fact that I’m white.

Mission accomplished.  Both objectives were met.  Team Squirt fed the hungry by day and busted a move by night.  We were some real rice providing, vitamin distributing, Dougie dancing fools that week.  I’m pretty sure the kids at the orphanage and the members of the surrounding community had not experienced a group like ours in quite some time, if ever.  A week wasn’t nearly long enough, though.  We had a tough time saying goodbye when it was time to part our separate ways.

One of the teenage girls at the orphanage especially had a tough time saying goodbye.  I saw her on the last night, slinking off into the shadows, completely withdrawn to herself.  She was at a loss for words, so she had her friend slip me this note that was folded up into a neat, little square with her name, Eve, scrawled on the front.  I waited to read the note until I was on the plane ride home.  I carefully unfolded it and here is what the note read:

Hey!!!

I don’t see any word to say goodbye tonight beau because you are a special friend for me.  I want to see you next time again.  I want you to know that you are in my prayer and in my mind.  I want you to be my friend for ever and ever.

It was a short plane ride home but long enough for me to catch my breath and to reflect on the trip that had just taken place.  The note just confirmed what I had already suspected of the Haitian people.  They are just like everyone else in this world.  They only want a chance to be loved and to feel special.  The bags of rice, the toothbrushes, the donated clothing – that’s all nice.  It helps to meet their physical needs, but what Team Squirt was able to provide went beyond that.  We provided them with emotional support and a spark of hope.  We made them feel loved.

The Haitian people are truly special and I’m happy that I had the chance to make some new friends.  Friends that I intend to keep for ever and ever if I have it my way.

Note From A Haitian Girl

A Note From A Tough Guy – I’m Gonna Pumble Your Ass

I have never been in a fistfight in my entire life.  I’m a lover, not a fighter.  So imagine my dismay when I was handed this note back in the 10th grade:

I was unsure how to respond to the note.  The penmanship was nice and all, but it’s not everyday that someone threatens to pumble your ass.

I wasn’t a complete stranger to the threat of ass pummelings.  My brothers and I were threatened with beatings at high school parties before.  We made friends with neighboring schools, and when we started getting a little too cozy with the girls, some of the guys from the other schools didn’t take too kindly to us encroaching on their territory.

Somehow, I always managed to talk my way out of the beatings.  It’s not too hard when the ringleader of the lynch mob’s nickname was “Meatball.”  Meatball would get drunk and threaten my brothers and I in front of all the other partygoers.  I would calmly reply, “Go ahead.  If it makes you feel any better, kick my ass.  I’m not gonna’ stop you.”

Poor Meatball was put in a tough situation.  I had waved the white flag.  I was playing possum.  If he proceeded with the beatings, he was going to look like a punk in front of everyone for beating up a helpless, scrawny kid, but if he didn’t hand out the beatings, he was going to look like a punk for backing down.  I had him either way.   And I knew it.  I blew Meatball a kiss and waited for him to make his decision.

Meatball made the wise choice, and backed down from the fight.  Everyone went back to doing keg stands, chugging beer bongs, and lived happily ever after that night.

I don’t get it.  Anyone can throw a punch or take a punch.  I never saw the thrill in that.  Two guys puffing out their chests and beating each other senseless, is well, utterly senseless.  I always found the bigger challenge and the greatest thrill when I was able to get inside one of these tough guy’s heads, and make them feel foolish for wanting to pick a fight in the first place.  A little Psychology 101.

The challenge was on with Bradly.  I decided to draft my own letter in response.  I don’t have the original letter that I wrote, because Bradly decided to crinkle it up, shove it in his mouth, and swallow it for an afternoon snack.  But here is my best recollection of the letter that I had penned to Bradly during my study hall that day:

—————————-

Dearest Bradly,

May I call you, Brad?

I’m not sure what brought on this desire for a “pumble” in regards to my ass.  Perhaps it’s because you’re still angry that you were held back a grade, or perhaps it’s due in part to insecurities about your extremely small penis.  I can’t blame you.  I’ve snuck a peek in the showers after hearing the rumors, and well, I would be outraged, too.  But don’t be angry with me.  If anything, be angry with your father.  Be angry with your Anglo-Saxon heritage.  But I am not to blame, and will have to cordially decline your offer for an ass pummeling.  I hope you understand.

If you should not accept this peace offering, than I guess we can settle this with ass pummelings as per your request.  However, I would like to make a suggestion that we move the fight off of school property, and move it to a more neutral sight as to further avoid ramifications after we beat each other to bloody pulps.

A week from today after school lets out, drive to Reel’s Corner and park your car in the pull-off just across the way.  There you will find a trial head that cuts through the woods.  Make sure to bring proper foot attire.  The trail can get rather rocky in places, and it’s important to allow for ample ankle support when navigating such difficult terrain.  Also, bring a compass, shovel and a pickaxe.

Follow the trail back approximately 2.6 miles until it comes to a dead end.  Position your self due North, and take 200 paces straight ahead.  There you will find a stump.  Stand in the center of the stump, and position yourself due West.  Take fifty paces straight ahead.  Find the “X” marked in the dirt.  Begin digging.  Once you uncover the treasure chest that I have buried in the dirt, you will need to punch these numbers into the combination lock:  38, 3, 22.  Inside the treasure chest you will find a set of your next and final instructions that will lead you straight to my location.

I sincerely look forward to your reply.  Whichever decision you may choose, choose it wisely, Bradly.  I trust that you will.

All the best.

Signed,

Chris Hinton

—————————-

Bradly and I never did end up fighting.  I find that people begin to bore with the idea, or they move onto the next fight if you can wait them out long enough.

It’s not that I’m afraid to get in a fistfight.  I actually think I’d be a great fighter.  I have excellent balance, good quickness, and just the right amount of shear insanity that it takes to be a great fighter.  Maybe that’s why Bradly and Meatball never followed through with it.  They didn’t sense any fear in me, and that’s exactly what dogs like them seem to thrive on the most.  Shivering, quaking, trembling fear.

Bradly was a pitbull, or at least he thought he was.  I wasn’t afraid.  Dogs are a man’s best friend, after all.  The puppy dog tucked his tail back in between his legs, and left me alone for the most part.  I had won the fight without ever having to lift a finger, and that was more than victory enough for me.

Tough Guys = 0
Nerds = 2

Nerds for the win.