I see your smile,
I see your face,
I hear you laughing in the rain.
I still can't believe you're gone.
~William Luther & Aimee Mayo
Who’d You Be Today?
Recorded by Kenny Chesney
“I want to go to Art School or Film School.” Tim said when he was 13.
“I want to be like Steven Spielberg or George Lucas.” Tim said.
I thought for a second. “Is that what you want for high school? We can look into that…”
“No, daddy, for college – I want to study film making.”
Tim and I were driving to the movies to see The Dark Knight, the second of the Christian Bale Batman movies. All his life he was fascinated with special effects – from Jaws to the reboot of Star Trek, Iron Man, and The Transformers movies. He had started watching Robot Chicken on the Cartoon Network and loved how Seth Green’s production would use action figures from my childhood and some from the 80’s to make stop-motion shorts poking fun at some of the old movies, current events, celebrities, and television shows. There were weekend nights when I came home from working the 4-to-12 shift and find him giggling and cackling at the show.
“I have no problem with that,” I said. “But you will take some business courses.”
Tim looked at me, changing the radio station on the pre-set buttons. “Why?”
I glanced at him for a moment, caught a few notes of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb and tapped his hand away from the stereo. “Stop, its Pink Floyd.”
“Why do you want me to take business courses? Didn’t you hate that you had to take business instead of writing courses?” I could feel his eyes on me. Ah, the defiance years…where the boy starts to question what he’s told to do and find out consequences.
“Because I am not going to have a starving artist living in my basement like Maynard Krebs, no sir.”
“Who? Who is he?”
I don’t even know why I thought of Maynard Krebs. All I remembered of him was that he was played by Bob Denver who later played Gilligan. Krebs was a friend of Dobie Gillis, a show from the late 1950’s to early 1960’s – before my time, but I caught repeats on the UHF channels growing up.
“Maynard Krebs was a beatnik who avoided work at almost all costs, almost like Shaggy from Scooby Doo is a close second. But that’s not the point.”
Tim threw his arms up in the air. “So what’s the point?”
I thought for a second. I was losing my cool and so was Tim. “It’s because I want you to be able to have a career…not a pipe dream.”
Tim huffed and mumbled under his breath. “You don’t want me to be who I want to be.”
“What?” I leaned over, keeping my eye on the road.
“What did you say?” I turned down the radio. “What did you say?” I repeated.
Tim looked at me. He had a painful look on his face. “You don’t want me to be who I want to be; I want to go to film school.”
“Whoa,” I said. “Back up. Number one that is not what I said! I want you to have something to fall back on. If I was allowed to study what I wanted to study, and have business as a fall back option I would be writing for some company; but pursuing writing a novel to outshine Hemingway. If I was allowed to…”
“Okay I get it.”
“No Tim you don’t. I will never deny you what you want to study. You get an interest in something, I am the one that goes out and gets everything under the sun about it. Mummies…I got you books and movies about them. Urban legends… I got you everything on that. You wanted an art kit? Your mother told your grandmothers to get you one for Christmas…and guess what you got another one from me.”
“Okay. I’m sorry. Geez.”
“You want to study film. Fine, but you will have something to get you a job in marketing or advertising. You have a long way to go before we get to that point…you have to get past 8th Grade and high school.”
“So you’re okay with it?”
“Tim you can be whoever you want…you’re just not going to be a bum.” I smiled. “Then I would have to kill you.”
On the day Tim was killed I was asked who he wanted to be. The first thing I thought of was his addition to Film Maker, was to be an author – he discovered Michael Crichton. Crichton had done it all – author, investigator, doctor, movie maker, and television developer – and a friend of Stephen Spielberg.
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