Friday Free for all #52: Cereal, siblings, best age

The next in an ongoing series in which I answer random questions generated by a website. Here, are this week’s questions. Feel free to give your own answers in the comments. Also, despite this being #52 of a weekly series, it was actually a year ago last February that I started them. I lost four weekly installments during my Christmas Countdown month-long curated feature.

Is cereal soup?

This is along the lines of the “is a hotdog a sandwich” question (no), and while I’m sure there are people who would insist that cereal is soup, they’re probably also the same people who put pineapple on pizza, so anything they say about food can be safely ignored.

The definition of soup, according to Google: Definition: a liquid food especially with a meat, fish, or vegetable stock as a base and often containing pieces of solid food. Now cereal is often liquid, if you add milk to it like a normal human, and it does contain pieces of solid food.

However, that solid food is generally made of grains, like wheat, oats, or corn, with nary a bit of meat, fish, or vegetable in it. And if you try to argue that milk is somehow beef stock, I’m just going to look at you like you’re crazy, because you clearly have no idea what stock is.

The one thing I would associate with most soups is that they are cooked first, and usually served warm. The two exceptions I can think of are vichyssoise, served at room temperature, and gazpacho, served cold. However, the former is most definitely cooked and then let to cool down while the latter is pureed at room temperature and chilled for at least four hours.

Then again, gazpacho doesn’t have any lumpy bits in it — nary an oat, cornflake, or marshmallow.

The other big difference is that cereal is generally, though not always, a breakfast food, while soup is more normally lunch or dinner. Sure, there are probably people who have one for breakfast and the other for dinner, but that still doesn’t change definitions.

Soup is soup. Cereal is not.

How many siblings do you have?

That all depends on how you count them. As I’ve mentioned many times before here, my father was married long before he met my mother, and had three kids. My mother was also married once, briefly, had one miscarriage due to spousal abuse and then a quick annulment.

So I lost the half-sister I would have had via my mother before I was even born. Meanwhile, my dad’s kids were all a lot older than me, and I never really grew up with any of them, other than frequently seeing my oldest half-sister and her kids, and sometimes seeing my oldest half-brother and his partner, Phil.

My half-sister was practically my mom’s age, so she was more like an aunt, and all of her kids were my age, so even though I was their uncle, it was more like we were cousins.

My older half-brother was somewhat estranged from my dad, although it apparently had nothing to do with his being gay. Meanwhile, my youngest half-brother, still much older than me, had been manipulated by his mother against my father, and I think they ran off to Hawai’i for years.

My dad’s ex- did have another kid around my age with her second husband, although I don’t think we’ve ever met and we’re not related anyway. But my half-siblings share him as a half-sibling, and he turned out to be one rightwing Trumpeteer asshole.

But I do digress.

So… I grew up as an only child who technically had three siblings, but never had a sibling relationship with any of them. I tried to be close to older half-brother because of having being gay in common, but never got to tell him that, and then he and “Uncle” Phil had a little issue with the IRS and relocated to Vegas.

Jimmy, that half-brother, died in the 1992, although I still don’t know whether it was because of a congenital heart condition or suicide — I’ve heard both versions. But I miss him, and the brought parity to my number of half-siblings.

Two living, two dead, although another one died just over a decade later. Well, at least she died to me emotionally.

That would be my older half-sister. Now, from what I remember growing up, she got along great with my mom but, at the same time, whenever she showed up with her three kids, it always seemed to be because she needed money from dad, or something. Her first husband died of cancer very young — he had been a Marine, and it’s entirely possible that he was an atomic veteran but that all got covered up.

She had two more kids with her second husband, then eventually married a third. Notably, every one of her husbands was a hell of a lot older than her.

Toward the end of my father’s life, though, she took advantage of two things. The first was that she lived a lot closer to him than I did — so did her kids, i.e. his grandkids. Meanwhile, I had lost my TV job and was struggling in lower-paying temp work, trying not to become homeless.

In retrospect, I should have done the smart thing and said, “Hey, Dad, how about if I just move in so I can take care of you?” But I didn’t, for various reasons.

One, I suppose, was pride, and not wanting to feel like I’d somehow failed and went crawling home — never realizing that plenty of adults move in to take care of aging parents. The other, though, was that I knew I just would not be good as a caretaker. I don’t deal well, on a gut, physical level, with other people’s injuries or illnesses.

So… half-sister swept in and moved in and, at the funeral itself no less, quietly told me, “Don’t bother asking about the house. It’s in my name.”

That would be the house that my mother and father owned and that I grew up in, and that this bitch stole from me. And even if she put it in her name so that my father could qualify for MediCal,  she should have at least discussed it first.

So… how many siblings do I have? Full siblings by birth, none. Half-siblings conceived, four. Half-siblings physically deceased, two. Half-siblings morally deceased, one.

Ironically, in the years since our father died, and thanks to a combination of social media, his divorce, and hooking up with his former high school girlfriend who reached out to me because she somehow remembered me as a kid, I have reconnected to the one remaining half-brother that I have, and that’s been pretty cool.

But if we’re really counting, I have a number of good friends who are not related to me by blood at all, and yet I consider them to be brothers and sisters as well, and they actually outnumber all the people related directly to me by one or the other of my parents.

What age do you wish you could permanently be?

It depends. Mentally? The age I am right now, if that means that I could have the knowledge, personality, courage, and don’t-give-a-fuckitude of me in this moment.

If you mean physically, if I can stick it with that brain, then the answer is 32. I was young, skinny, hot, and had great hair, and looking back on it, I could get laid at the drop of a hat, although it wasn’t until I looked at photos of myself at that age that I realized what I never did back then.

I was seriously fucking hot, but I never realized it. So, instead, I was shy and never the one to approach people. Yes, I would get hit on, but I would never, ever make the first move. Okay, wait, there was one time that I did, which was uncharacteristic for me.

It was at a weekend-long seminar by an author I admired, and as we were all filing out on the first evening, I looked across the auditorium and saw some cute young guy looking back at me from the far aisle. We kind of locked eyes, but then totally lost each other outside.

The next evening, I arrived early, saw him sitting at the end of an unfilled row near the front, then just thought, “Go for it, “walked on up and asked, “Is this seat taken?”

Well, of course it wasn’t, and that seminar ended with a dinner date, later a first date, and a fuck. He was a college student at UCLA, and one hot fucking nerd. But I was also kind of a mess back then when it came to emotional intelligence, which is why it kind of followed by one date, one fuck pattern.

So… put my mind now in my body then, and not only would I be dangerous, but I’d probably be tearing it up on Only Fans or just starting my own porn studio.

What? That’s not arrogance. That’s honesty. So, yeah. Hey, science — figure out how to drop my brain now into my body then, and I’ll earn enough in a year to pay for the procedure, and love every second of it!

Friday Free for all #43: Pineapple, fear, and ethics

The next in an ongoing series in which I answer random questions generated by a website, although it’s been on hiatus since the Christmas Countdown began. Here, I resume with this week’s questions. Feel free to give your own answers in the comments.

How do you feel about putting pineapple on pizza?

This one is easy, and all of my friends already know my answer. Pineapple on pizza is a goddamn abomination. The two do not belong together, period. Want to ruin a perfectly good pizza? Throw some of that squishy, pulpy, bitter tropical shit on it.

Of course, it is also my firm belief that California Pizza Kitchen in fact does not serve anything resembling a pizza in any way, shape or form. And as for that Chicago deep-dish shit? Yeah, no. That’s not a pizza. That’s a casserole.

Thin crust, slathered with tomato-based sauce, then pile on the mozzarella, and top it with any combination of pepperoni, sausage, garlic, bell peppers, onions, ground beef, extra cheese (but only mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, or Romano) or olives.

Besides pineapple, all y’all can keep away your damn pineapple, Canadian bacon, and anchovies. Those do not belong on proper pizza either.

My god. The violence done to Za in this country is astounding. Just because you pile a bunch of shit on a flat, round piece of dough doesn’t make it pizza. Learn it. Love it.

What weird childhood fear do you still kind of hold on to?

I don’t hold onto it that strongly anymore, but there are still times when I can have an unintended physical reaction to the stimulus. But… for as long as I could remember until I was about nine years old, skeletons in general and skulls in particular just freaked me out.

Just looking at a picture of one, whether it was a photo of an actual skull, a fairly accurate drawing of one, or even a cartoon, would send chills all up and down my body, and I had to just look away.

The way I got over it at nine was actually rather inspired of me, although I have no idea where that inspiration came from. All I remember was that I was falling asleep and those hypnagogic hallucinations were kicking in.

You know those. It’s when you’re just starting to fall asleep but you aren’t quiet, and the movie theatre on the back of your eyelids starts dishing up random patterns of light and color.

Well, this one particular night, a couple of those blobs suddenly turned into a pair of skulls that started heading for me, and for some reason instead of freaking out about it, in my mind, I stuck my tongue out at them.

They both screamed and fled, and that killed the fear.

By the way, as a grown-ass adult years later, writing about that memory did make my entire head tingle, which is why I say I’m not totally over it, but I can still have a goose-bump reaction to the image. I just don’t experience visceral fear about it anymore.

The really interesting part is the basis of the fear, and I did not learn how it probably came about until many, many years later, when I was definitely a grown-ass adult.

Apparently when I was about three years old, my dad still had partial custody of one of my half-brothers from his first marriage. This would be the one who was still under 18 when I was that age. (The other two were already adults.)

So, as I eventually learned, one day, this half-brother, who was a tween at the time, thought that it would be funny to shove my infant ass into a bedroom closet, toss in a glow-in-the dark skull-shaped Halloween basket, then shut the door and sit in front of it.

I have absolutely no memory of this incident. But, obviously, it imprinted on my subconscious, and so this weird fear was born.

For the record, as adults, I love my half-bro very much, and I have zero resentment over the incident. So there’s always that.

If you can save another’s life and don’t because doing so would break the law, are you ethically justified in your decision?

And so we get to this installment’s really heavy question, mainly because I have to figure out a context in which it would break the law to save someone’s life with some possible ethical justification, because if I can justify doing it, it makes it hard to justify not doing it, right?

Obvious non-starters are things like busting into the death chamber and using violence to prevent a legally sanctioned execution. That would clearly be wrong and have no ethical justification. So yeah, in this case, you are ethically justified in not saving another’s life.

Now let’s get a little muddier. You’re just hanging out, minding your own business, when an altercation breaks out. And it becomes immediately obvious to you that some white guy is trying to pull some uber-Zimmerman “stand your ground” bullshit over a young black kid.

White dude has a gun pointed at the kid’s head and is both agitated and clearly ready to shoot. Meanwhile, there happens to be a very convenient and heavy stanchion right next to you that could shut up gun-boy forever and instantly.

Murder him with that and you save a life, although it’s technically homicide. Your choice?

Personally, in that situation, my choice would always be “break the fucking law if possible if it will save an innocent life.” So, yeah, I’m a pacifist, but I’d also have no problem splattering a racist’s “brains” all over the place.

Now here’s the next-level version. Same situation of innocent kid and armed racist asshole, except… that armed racist asshole is a cop.

And why does it get messy? Because, in this case, if you break the law to save a life you may also wind up losing your own. I mean, how many other cops are there watching, all with their guns drawn and with a hard-on for shooting someone?

So, in this case, I think I’d be ethically justified in not killing the cop but, instead, getting video of the whole damn thing, telling my version of the story to the media, and being a witness for the defense for the murder victim, e.g. the innocent kid who got shot in the street.