Vail Daily Column: Some bad choices in life, love and photography
July 26, 2010
This I know to be true.
Kelly was a daughter to be proud of. From first grade to high school graduation, she was an exemplary student. Beside her grades, her parents were proud of her achievements in sports as well as her volunteer work in the community.
My only contact with Kelly is the yearly Christmas photos her parents, Sue and Dan, send me from Iowa. It was through those photos that I watched her grow up. Last winter’s card showed a pretty blonde teenager with a rather serious expression; in all the years before that she was smiling.
Kelly’s mother, Sue, once bragged to me that she often felt sorry for the other parents whose children caused them stress and worry. Sue said, “It must be luck or genetics. I know Dan and I are not the best parents, but we do have the best daughter.”
She said that to me the summer before Kelly’s senior year, about a month or two before she met Carlos.
Carlos Garcia’s parents were religious and hard working. They moved to Iowa from San Diego to work in the meat-packing plant that operated near by.
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If Kelly’s family could be considered middle-class Carlos’ was just one rung down that socioeconomic ladder.
Sue and Dan had no problem with the fact that Kelly and Carlos began dating. They interpreted Carlos’ sullenness and lack of effort to engage them as shyness. Sue told me it was almost comical to see them together – Kelly, tall, vivacious with blonde hair and blue eyes and Carlos, short, dark, brooding, tattooed and the ever present head scarf and baggy pants. By early January, Kelly was notified that she was awarded a full scholarship to a state university. When her last term grades sank, her parents attributed it to understandable relaxing of study habits after years of hard work.
When Kelly moved in with Carlos two weeks after her 18th birthday, Sue and Dan began to worry. Their pastor suggested they make known their disapproval yet keep their door and the lines of communication open.
Even though the young couple lived less than a mile away, they seldom saw their daughter, and when they did, she looked tired and they noticed some bruises.
The first time the police came to Kelly and Carlos’s apartment, they got conflicting stories from the neighbors and from Kelly. The second time, they took Carlos away.
Kelly would visit Carlos in jail whenever it was allowed and she had his named tattooed on her foot. Last week, Kelly stopped by to tell Dan and Sue that they were going to be grandparents.
This next story I read in the newspaper.
A lady in Oregon was using an outhouse in a state park. She notice a red light below the toilet seat; she looked closer to see some guy wearing a rain suit standing in the holding tank filming. I’d like to go on record saying I would never do that.
The reason I tell these stories together is just to point out some human behavior is incomprehensible. Now certainly, it might be easier to relate to Kelly’s poor choices than the guy in Oregon. But in both cases, most right-thinking adults would say, “What the … ?”
Humans! What is wrong with us? We are the smartest, most creative – the only species with empathy, reason and opposable thumbs, yet some of us behave in a manner that would make a dung beetle blush.
Both Kelly and the guy under the outhouse probably can see the sense in their choices by few other right-thinking people could. The only animal behavior I can equate it with is when those whales keep beaching themselves when they are rescued on the beach themselves again – I’m told that is more of a sonar problem; perhaps Kelly and the outhouse guy just have bad sonar.
I do believe that humans, of all the species have the market cornered on self-destructive behavior.
I’m far from being an animal expert – or a expert of any sort – but it is my contention that despite all those gifts, humans are the only animal that feels guilt, shame and anger; all worthless emotions. Moreover, we are the only creature that is denied its inclinations. From shortly after birth, parents, religion and society, tell us what behavior, desires and proclivity, are proper, moral and acceptable. Can you imagine a mother dog telling a puppy who is licking himself, “Stop that you dirty dog!”
Do I know that Kelly and the guy filming under the outhouse were subject to the judgmental oppression of religion, society or family? No. I only know some choices and mistakes cannot be undone and for those who care about them there must be an incredible sense of helplessness. And to quote the guy in Oregon, “That stinks.”
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or from http://www.webersbooks.com