To many of you, especially my mother, the letters above will puzzle you. If, on the other hand, you listen to pop music, you will recognize them as the title of a song, an acronym for Going Down for Real, by Flo Rida and Sage the Gemini. Although I am not a rap fan, the song is strangely hypnoptic, the music deliberately emulating a snake charmer’s punji. The lyrics, which I’ve here for you, are unintelligible to me, a white middle-aged woman, but I can at least hum the it’s going down for real part.
Today, things are GDFR in our house and in the ‘hood. Thing 3 has made the decision to quit, mid-season, her position on the high school varsity lacrosse team. She has spent weeks bemoaning the playing conditions, or lack thereof, the coaching, and lack of team spirit. She has tried diverting her thought processes, dedicating her playing for those who cannot play any sport. I will not be writing about the picayune, petty, and pernicious aspects of small-town, nepotistic high school sports (my grandmother always told me that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all). I got to present my point of view to the high school athletic director and that was good enough for me – a point of view I would respectfully share with the coach, my neighbor, should he ever ask. (And he won’t. See above).
This brings me to the topic of intellectual honesty. Last Sunday night, Mr. Understanding and I went to the Ohio Theatre to see the author David Sedaris give a reading. I am a huge fan, as is Thing 1, who wrote her IB senior project on his use of comedy in writing. I brought a long one of his books, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, which I hoped he would autograph for me. Mr. Understanding and I laughed non-stop as Mr. Sedaris read two of his newest stories about his family, his house in North Carolina, and his various physical ailments. Mr. Sedaris’ humor is witty, dry, incisive, and, generally speaking, disturbing. For example, he recounted an incident where a reader asked him if he would ever have sex with a baby. Nervous laughter in the audience followed that one. Having just read about Kevin Rojano-Nieto (click here) who sodomized a three year old family member, we could not join in. Mr. Sedaris continued to recount the exchange, which only got more shocking, as intended. And that was just the warm up! On the way home, though, I wondered aloud to Mr. Understanding if this was just how Sedaris processes all the cray-cray weirdness people impose on him during his book signing conversations. How perverted is the mind that even thinks up that question? Does Sedaris bring it on himself? When does he draw the line and say, OK, enough!?
At the end of the reading, Sedaris encouraged folks to sign up to donate bone marrow with the NGO Love Hope Strength waiting in the lobby. Those who signed up would get to skip to the front of the the book signing line. As I have lived in so many third world countries, I cannot even donate blood, I knew that for me, this was a non-starter. So I got in the regular line and was not far off from the front. Mr. Understanding waited patiently for me outside. As the minutes ticked on and those behind me did not want to wait, they peeled off and went to sign up to donate bone marrow, even though they had no intention of ever doing so. I know, because I overheard their conversations. Eventually, I quit the line and met Mr. Understanding outside. Frankly, I needed to go to bed. Although I regretted not being able to ask my two questions – do you think you will ever get expat fatigue, like me, and, how much do you write every day? – I was not prepared to make Mr. Understanding wait 2 hours while all the fakers tra-la la’ed their way to the the book signing table. This is not to say that there were not some sincere donor wannabes in the bunch – they just went to offer up their marrow from the git-go.
So when is it acceptable to quit, to walk away? Rehab, after all, is for quitters and amen to that. We like certain quitters but not others. It’s all circumstantial. In the end, I think it is when the spirit is being quenched, when you are engulfed in flames, and there is no joy to be found.
I had a little epiphany yesterday morning remembering that my parents, when I told them I would not be returning to University A, did not, to their credit, try to talk me out of it. Total acceptance. Quitting was okay. This was the right move for me. In Thing 3’s case, to “earn” a varsity letter in a sport where she warmed the bench would have felt hollow, like her very bones were sucked dry. Schloop! In the end, that is the most I can have required of my child – that she thought the situation through, spotted the bullshit for what it was, and was honest with herself. Discretion is not always the better part of valor (read here for the true meaning of the phrase) and in speaking up, she scored big with me. I think I’ll give her an A+. It’s GDFR and it’s her lacrosse to bear. Or not.