Laser Cat, Suicide, and Lunchboxes

Draven Rodriguez, the Laser Cat kid, committed suicide a few days ago. Draven garnered his fifteen minutes of internet fame last fall for an 80’s-inspired graduation photo, complete with ghost-image profile and multi-colored laser beams, while holding his pet cat.

It is the gayest thing I have seen since I attended the San Diego Gay Pride parade. The fags on the floats would have been taken aback at the sheer queerness of the photo.

Don't Blame the Shirt.
Don’t Blame the Shirt.

The cat doesn’t look terribly happy about the situation, either. Look closely. I swear I see a purple bow-tie on the cat. Or it may be a purple collar. Either way, the cat is pissed off about the whole thing. Even accounting for the ten pounds added by the camera (which is an awful lot for a cat), this tabby was a bit of a porker. He knows it, too. That extra helping of Fancy Feasts will catch up with you sooner or later.  The only way to have made the photo worse would have been to put the poor feline in a sweater embroidered with “Large and in Charge.”

The photo was a defining moment much as when a woman tries to shoehorn herself into her old wedding dress. It never ends well. That is what accounts for the glint of menace in Mr. Bigglesworth’s eyes.

I shit you not. The fucking cat’s name is Mr. Bigglesworth. There is no way on God’s green earth that is not one evil pussy.

So here is my theory. This cat with a shitty name and an eating disorder spends his life listening to an effeminate teenager whine about nobody liking him and not understanding why he isn’t famous, yet. He spends hour after hour being hugged just a little too hard while Liberace, Jr. soaks the poor cat’s fur with tears of angst, doubt, and self-pity.

By the way, Liberace is one of my favorite peter puffers. He worked his ass off at his chosen profession and made every piano his bitch. He also followed the first rule of manhood; create more than you consume.

LiberaceSo when poor little Draven, who by all reports was popular, had some prospects in life, and was socially active in school, comes to the realization that going Greek in college will likely mean more than joining a fraternity, he does the typical teenager thing. He obsesses, gives in to his fears, and lets something that is ultimately inconsequential rule his life.

Since Mr. Bigglesworth has never been exposed to suicide prevention training, he neither recognizes the signs and symptoms that his battle buddy needs help nor knows what to do about it. Not that he would escort Draven to the nearest Chaplin or Doc, anyway. This is an evil and angry cat we’re talking about.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but a vengeful cat is a close second. I once had a cat that took a crap on my pillow out of spite.

What the cat does recognize is a weakness. Cats are hunters by nature and know when to pounce, so in a moment of Draven’s deepest despair, Mr. Bigglesworth made his move. He snuffed Draven in his sleep and made it look like suicide. Nobody ever suspects the cat because they seem so engrossed in grooming their fur and sneaking up on moths, but they hold a grudge for being forced to chase a laser pointer around in circles until they puke. They don’t find that funny at all.

I’m sure Draven’s parents feel it is the end of the world, and they should. Some suicides can be, if not condoned, at least understood when faced with an ultimately terminal medical prognosis, such as with Robbin Williams or my father. However, the suicide of a physically healthy, socially active, and mentally sound child leaves a sense of unfulfilled promise and squandered potential. I’m going to take a wild guess and say it had something to do with him being a homosexual.

Probably a Bully
Probably a Bully

The argument will surely be made that this young man’s suicide was the result of bullying. It may well have been, but here is the rub. If your ultimate fate is to take your own life, those who survive you will scramble to ascribe a suitably profound reason to assuage their feelings of loss. I have it easy. My father knew he would be dead in no more than six weeks and in the meantime, continue to experience small, progressively worse heart attacks until one finally killed him.

My brother and I found him four days before Christmas, after he had begun to liquefy. We also found the remains of his last meal. A Little Cesar’s large Meatza pizza, barbeque chicken wings, and breadsticks. Not a fucking salad to be found. I guess he figured there was no point in changing his eating habits at that stage of the game.

Young Draven is more difficult to explain away. He was popular, active, and all the things a parent wants to see in a child. However, there was something deep inside him that will ultimately suffer the fate of the new American pastime; shirking of personal responsibility.

In their grief, everyone with a sense of loss or an agenda will pick something which they can point to and shriek, “That’s why he did it. He was driven to it.” I put forward that Draven was simply too weak to survive in a harsh world. Not being able to come to terms with the fact that he wanted to ride the baloney pony or that he was picked on for it is only a better reason than his socks not matching that day because it feels more emotionally profound.

Nobody wants to be the one whose son killed himself because the people at Burger King screwed up his order at the drive thru, so they search for a noble reason.

Excuse Me.  I Specifically Asked for Super-Size.
I Specifically Asked for Super-Size.

What more noble reason was available to them than the massively popular and acceptable excuse of social exclusion?  Honestly, if the Laser Cat yearbook photo going around the internet didn’t push this kid over the edge, I’m surprised he killed himself at all. Being gay, Hispanic, and bullied are the trifecta of social shields. That’s why I’m so upset about Portagees no longer being considered “Hispanic.”

Now that I’m just a white guy, I can’t get away with anything. I guess I’ll have to announce that I’m gay in order to get cut any slack for my shenanigans.

The bottom line is that something would have set this kid off sooner or later. Being bullied is part of the human condition. By its current understanding, everyone has been bullied, and we have all bullied someone. The answer isn’t to kill yourself or sit in the corner crying or snitch to an authority. You give back as good as you get, whether it be with words or fists.

In the third grade, I beat my fifth-grader bully bloody with my metal Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox in the boys’ bathroom. You still got something to say to the fat kid, Fernando? I’ll be your Huckleberry again, you cocksucker.

There were no adults present, but there were a couple of witnesses. Word got out fast. Especially when the little punk tattled on me. Parents were called, meetings were held, and my dad nearly got into it with whichever boyfriend-de-jour Fernando’s mother called her Old Man that semester. I took some suspension time for it, a couple months of lost recess time, and several hours’ worth of combined lectures from the Principal on down to the Janitor and Crossing Guard. For some reason, they drew the line at letting the Lunch Lady have a go at me.1980-dukes-of-hazzard-lunch-box

Like any self-respecting Con, I took my time in The Hole without complaint. It was a bargain price to pay for what I got in return. Sure, Fernando got up to his old tricks almost as often as before, but a quick pointing out of the nearest lunchbox caused him to reconsider. And whether caused by fear or respect, I certainly didn’t gain any new bullies for the rest of my time in grammar school. I had shown my refusal to be a victim.

My mother was beside herself with disappointment. She denies it now, but I remember her lecture sounding just like everyone else’s. I was upset that I had dented my beloved lunchbox beyond use and had cracked the thermos. My father pretended to agree with mom. Afterward, he took me out for ice cream and bought me an identical replacement lunchbox.

We are creating a society of victims where weakness and cowardice are encouraged and glorified. All life is precious, so it is a pity that Draven Rodriguez killed himself. I can only imagine the horror his parents are enduring, and I would not expect them to agree with me at all. Allowances for parental grief aside, the fact remains he could not muster up the guts to face his problems. That is what saddens me.


Ice Bucket Bullies

Thankfully, the juggernaut that is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has lost its momentum in under thirty days. It lasted less time than Zuit Suits, flagpole sitting, or the Pet Rock craze.  On the upside, it caught on far better than my pathetic attempt to raise awareness for Testicular Cancer with the Moose Knuckle Challenge.

As far as fads go, if you measure by longevity, I’m not even sure the Ice Buck Challenge should qualify.  Is there a minimum time mob hysteria must last before it transitions from simple stupidity to actual lightening in a bottle?  I fervently hope the various ALS charities had the foresight to annuitize the millions and millions of dollars they have raked in this month because they will soon return to being an orphan disease with a monthly income slightly above the federal poverty level for a family of six.

If this does not qualify for a “Windfall Tax” similar to what Democrats would like to impose on for-profit companies, the word “windfall” should be immediately redacted from every dictionary in existence because it has lost all meaning.

My vitriol is neither for those who suffer the disease nor those who must watch an ALS patient atrophy and eventually drown on their own saliva.  Watching a loved one slowly die over the course of years is terrible.  I reserve my venom for the behavior of their “supporters.”

A special note about Anthony Carbajal, the “I’m the Face of ALS” guy who in addition to suffering from Lou Gehrig’s Disease takes care of his mother with ALS:  You crossed the line into “supporter” when you hit the “post” button on YouTube.

I was tricked into watching his video because it came back as a result while searching for “white t-shirt ice bucket challenge.”  Despite my initial disappointment at Mr. Carbajal interrupting the nipple-fest, I enjoyed his satire.  However, my empathy for him ended the instant he began blubbering like a little girl.

I get that he is scared nearly out of his mind.  Men can be scared.  They may even cry in private, on occasion, but to make memorial his emotional breakdown for the world to see is the height of manipulation.

Women and children cry to get their way.  Men don’t.  Turn in your Man Card immediately, you pussy.

There is a no more enthusiastic apostle than a convert.  Those caught up in the Ice Bucket Challenge hysteria have been duped into the Church of Awareness.  Posting their Ice Bucket Challenge on social media is baptism into the faith, after which, they immediately search out non-believers to convert, extort money from, or both.  Those who do not succumb to the peer pressure are bullied by their former friends, who have chosen the Cult of Socially Aware Philanthropy over them.

Cult leaders such as David Koresh, Charles Manson, and Jim Jones knew all too well how cult conversion works.  Vulnerable people who have suffered loss and are looking to fill a void within themselves are prime recruits for groups looking to exploit them. The recruits gladly participate in silly (and occasionally dangerous) rituals to gain inclusion and acceptance of the group.  They also turn over resources to the group in the forms of money, property, and labor.

Part of the indoctrination is isolation. At least, isolation from those not already in the cult.  On declination of friends and family to join the wonderful new world of the initiate, old friends and previous family are discarded.  Parents will never again see children, spouses never again see each other, and friends will be shunted to the side.

After ritual participation and acceptance comes spreading the message.  New initiates appeal to logic and the desire for a better world to bring in the next crop, sort of a religious cult Multi-Level Marketing scheme.  When those appeals fail, the proselytes resort to bullying, strong-arm tactics, and guilt to manipulate the non-believers into participation.

Am I the only one who sees the similarities?

Vehement attacks have been leveled against people whom, for various reasons, decline to participate. They are promptly made pariahs.  Fellow WordPress blogger CindyPRN, who dared decline diverting dedicated donations to her already established charities and participation in the indoctrination ritual, received hate mail on her blog demanding to know why she would not donate to ALS research.

Kendall Breitman, writing for Politico, published a piece publicly outing Ice Bucket Challenge Haters, all of whom took far more principled stances on their objections than any of my aversions.  In a Washington Post piece, Caitlin Dewey wrote,

“Hey haters, this might annoy the heck out of you every time you log into Facebook or Vine … but it’s producing actual results for organizations battling a crippling neurodegenerative disease.”

She is absolutely correct.  The website for Time reports ALS donations topping $100 million.  Now, let’s see these same organizations produce results of their own.  How many millions of dollars would Ms. Dewey like to see spent before we throw in the towel on this one?

On my first exposure to the Ice Bucket Challenge, I wrote it off as another internet phenomenon for various attention seekers; celebrities, insecure women wearing white T-shirts, and internet slacktavists who want to assuage their guilt with minimal effort.  It has grown beyond that.  It has become a vehicle for cyber bullying, emotional manipulation, and public cries for attention.  The good news for those who mindlessly go along with whatever is cool and popular is it gives these assholes another cause for which to raise awareness.