Wednesday, September 17, 2008

L of H

Become a dad. Become your dad. The stillborn dad. Today it's three choices, each with its on aura of suggestive sadness.

The Chatham (Ont.) Daily News reports on Matthew Humphrey, a 20-year-old Chatham, Ont., father-to-be who "realizes he must 'grow-up" to face his upcoming responsibilities. Can the crack-oxycodone user pull his life together before it's too late for his girlfriend delivers their twins in January? Everyone hopes so and a court has weighed in with a lighter sentence for his legal transgressions in sympathy to his situation. But history is a bit mixed on whether or not having kids makes a man of a boy.

A maker of history, although in a way likely to include the mesmerizingly mean, is Jean Sarkozy, the second son of the current French president Nicolas Sarkozy. He is engaged at 21 (dad waited until 26 for the first of three tries); he has just taken over a political party in a dazzling display of allegiances of convenience that remind observers of his sire and, in general, is evincing the sort of political machinations (Machiavellian? Metternichian? Sarkozian?) that have propelled pop to power.

For better or worse Sarkozy fils had dad as a model. And maybe young Humphrey will turn things around in time for his offspring. But these aren't the only worrisome role models. There is also the spector of nobody as father, and the resulting bewonderment of the child is the subject of essays in the soon to be released, Nobody's Father. Actual men who are biologically related will make their appearance in the collection, but they do so as real characters, not at all in the way they act in the lives of their children ... or in the way that the children act in the lives of men with no child to pass their legacy to.

Not quite a legacy of hope today.

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