Buy Your Own Con
Confession time: I’m a con artist. No, seriously, I am.
More than 10 years ago, I wrote a story called ‘140mph Lightning Bugs’… You know how lightning bugs look like streaks when you’re driving through them at night? Well, at 140mph, they incinerate over about a foot or more of your windshield, and create quite a light show. In that story a decade ago, I was looking out through my suburbia garage door at the lightning bugs, wondering how I’d become so grown-up that I hadn’t seen this light show in many years. (Best when viewed at top speed, no headlights, full moon, btw…) Just then, my little man (then only a toddler) hug-attacked me from behind, cleanly bathed and in race car jammies, and all was right with the world. At that time, I looked at the rewards of parenting as far outweighing anything lost to parenthood. And I still do.
Fast-forward 10+ years. That boy is now tall enough to reach the pedals, and he’s already a pro at shifting the 6-speed in my adolescent boy racer car. The girl has rounded off so many of my rough edges that I don’t remember what it was like to be rough-cut lumber. (Although, undoubtedly, I was as rough around the edges as they come…) Every day of my life, both kids leave me wondering how such a simple country boy as myself ended up with such amazing kids. Truth? It’s partly because I’m a con man. That’s right, I’ve been pretending to be harmless for so long that I’ve become completely harmless. Am I buying my own con???
At first, that’s all it was. A con. You mean I can’t just up and quit my job??? What if someone pisses me off? What if I want to see what it’s like to live in Colorado, banking only on what money is currently in my checking account? What if I come across a ’63 Corvette for only $10,000? I can’t do those things anymore??? Kids first. Sorry Dad. Nobody is going to take you seriously as a responsible dad if you stick with the old lifestyle. Plus, that little man in race car jammies is going to need a college education to complement his tech hobbies. Baby girl may choose to pave her way through eternity with little more than a used guitar and her soul as an amp. Those things have to come first. Do you want your kids to turn 18 and find out you bought a ’63 Corvette with their college funds? Nah, there’ll be none of that. Stick to the con. Some of the neighbors are buying it. I think?
Oh drat now I have to sell this con to the Kindergarten teachers. Ok. No worries. ABC, 123. Yeah we did that homework. Pack lunches now. That’ll help. They’re buying it. PTA? Dammit this is getting complicated! Ok sure I’ll help with the 1st grade play backdrop. Playdates? Ack! Ok yeah we’ll find a way to squeeze 3 extra kids into my boy racer car, and then stay sober most of that Thursday evening. Guess we’ll need a van too now. This con is getting expensive! I thought con artists were supposed to get rich??? Science Fair. Guitar lessons. Thank goodness summer is almost here, so I can slack off and backstep a bit!
Summer 2013 is currently slated to (subject to change, no refunds, no guarantees) include –through dark magic, trickery, and amazing juggling- 3 days off per week with said kids, water slides, swimming pools, fast cars, Android app programming, and learning to play the guitar. (Hey, cut me some slack, the guitar teacher is cute! She teaches me what she learned each week, so I can do more than haul the stuff to and from the van when she’s famous…) Best con ever. I’m so good at it that I don’t mind buying it myself, even knowing that it started out as a con! If my summer 2013 con is successful, one day my kids will say things like, “Yeah I remember summer 2013. I taught my Daddy to play the guitar, and we spent like half our time in the pool. I learned to drive the SS because I could finally reach the pedals! We took turns playing songs on my guitar on Miss Katie’s front porch swing!” If you’re running a con, dream big!
I got a little terrified recently when I realized I’d been buying my own con for so long that it’s become my reality! After terror came deep thought, soul searching, and… inner peace. The road I took to get here is somewhat irrelevant. I’m here, and however I became what I am today… I’m proud of it. Most importantly… my kids know the truth. They know it’s partly con, partly responsibility, partly thinly-veiled adolescence smothered in plans for the future, and 100% who I am… I daily drive a Camaro SS, I can patty-cake with the best of them, I know my way around the kids’ departments at Kohl’s, I can kick your ass in Uncharted 3, I cook a mean chicken stew, and I pack stellar lunches. The facts speak for themselves. Any good detective knows how to sniff out a con artist, and my kids are very good detectives! Varying degrees of success at selling my con to other people around me becomes, therefore, somewhat irrelevant… I bought it myself. That sale is final!
The up side to any good con is that you can always slip out the back, hit the road, and start a new one tomorrow if this one doesn’t pan out. I’m in too deep for that now. Hook, line, and sinker. I’m concrete in this one. No going back!
Best con ever, if I haven’t said it yet. I envision Karma saying something like, “Oh, crud, look at that, I took my eyes off that guy for a few minutes and look what he did!?! Huh. I guess that’s ok. I think I’ll let him carry on, and take credit for it if it works out well!” She can have the glory. I already have the spoils…
Most of the people that know me now have never known me as anything other than what I am today. There are a few old souls out there that could tell you stories, but if you only knew me as the Dad I am now, you’d have a hard time believing those stories from the glory days. I’m good with all of that. I’ve carried over the lion’s share of the good qualities I had from those days, and scraped off the goo that wasn’t so grand. I’m still a work in progress, and always will be, but for the most part I’m the guy my 15-years-ago con-artist-self penciled out on paper.
Buy your own con, folks. Seriously. Get yourself a big old piece of packing paper, draw out what you want to be 10 years from now, and make a plan to sell it to all your neighbors. Then buy it yourself. It’s like selling ice cubes to your Eskimo self, except that by pulling the wool over your own eyes, you’ll never feel yourself the fool. Even if it takes 10 years to sell…
I suppose you could paint that in many different ways. Some people doubt their own abilities, some people have a sordid past they hope to hide. Some just aren’t sure how to become a parent, some know only what they want not to be. Pencil and paper. If you change it long enough, convincingly enough, and heartfelt enough… it’ll become real.
Cheers from The www.ThreeFive.Zero Con Artist