To my unconceived (or born without my knowledge in a foreign land) son, presumably christened Digory or Eustace by your English mother, but your secret name -- which I whispered to the stars the night you were born -- is Sue:
There is so much I want for you. I want you to be a man of integrity. I want you to respect the dignity of other human beings. Unfortunately, I also want you to succeed, and that is why you can never be the first two. Son, you will shortly discover the first rule of human existence:
Don King photo by rditucci
Just a few successful bastards who will take your freedom, your money, your life, all of the above plus your girl and your goddamn bragging rights you waited 86 years for.
It profits you not to be kind and good, son. A bastard will reap your efforts, and turn your neighbors against you in the name of God, country and love. It is The Bastard who thrives upon our labors, harvests our indignities for his vicious dollar and foists radio singles in our ears.
Disney blah blah
We could solve the deficit tomorrow if we taxed autotune.
You might believe the smart, sociable and kind will eventually trump the stupid, greedy and angry, but you are wrong like a man-thong, Donkey Kong. Just like a frat boy in a slumbering sorority, bastards will take everything you have without even stopping to learn your name. In fact, a great number of them will be frat boys.
The Bastard cheats, sabotages and fouls what he cannot have. The Bastard shows remarkable bravado to achieve cowardly goals. The Bastard grinds the poor into the bloody sand to reap fortunes he never spends. The Bastard wears 10 million faces, but speaks with one equivocating voice.
Every war starts with some idiots listening to a bastard.
It is important you become a bastard, son, before you are crushed by bastards. I advise you to find the happiest child on the playground and sucker-punch him, so he knows the score. Hold his face in the dirt, and if I pretend to be mad at you, know that I do it only for show for his parents, who are caring and therefore weak. More likely, I will have abandoned you by then for some sap stepfather to raise, a tactic of bastards to disseminate our genes without losing beer money.
Let's not get into it
Everyone is bastards.
Life is not about what you have; it's about what you can hold onto. Say you do make something beautiful: Swoopo! A bastard takes or destroys it. See? Not worth the effort. If anything worth doing is worth doing well, then all efforts are vanities, especially the night I fathered you.
The only way to hold on to anything in this world is to do a shoddy job no one will want to steal. And then what? You're CEO of IKEA. Then you've got to learn Swedish just to pronounce your own name, which is Karl Umlaut, but the U has an umlaut over it, and that umlaut's topped with another, larger umlaut. Haw! What a waste of time!
We call this a "sknoord" back in Bronvarmothvaarstengart.
Let's say you're an earnest young Jew bitten by a radioactive spider. A burglar runs past you. Knowing this same footpad is scheduled to shoot your uncle later over some land rights that are too complicated to go into here ... do you stop him?
No way, true believer! This isn't an Uncle's Day column! While you were wrestling for cash to support your loved ones, Flattering Flash Thompson took the Marvelous MJ to the malt shop to pretend to listen while she natters on about last night's episode of Peyton Place. Now he's roughly touching her breast while you tussle with the Vulture, who is no threat to anyone but smells like soup. Bastards win, Parker! Stay home and shoot webs.
Stan "The Man" Lee once talked a model into leaving her husband, because a silver-tongue is the best superpower of all.
Speaking of self-exploration, you're a man now, thanks to my naming you Sue. Son, in your time, you're going to encounter sexbots. It's just unavoidable in the 21st century. Generally, I don't think a man should invest that much time and money in orgasmic hijinx. Never spend more on a sex toy than you would on a date with a real woman, that's my rule, unless the sexbot doesn't talk. If that's the case, I say go for it. If you blast your life savings on a sad future, it might as well be the one that has a warranty and doesn't challenge your world view. If a bastard takes your sexbot, that's grand larceny. If a bastard takes your girlfriend, that's a Ben Stiller movie, and not the good one where he does heroin with ALF.
Some movie studio
That's the one.
Remember: The fewer feelings you have, the more invulnerable you grow! Since all efforts are worthless, why invest a solid couple of years in something that's going to wither like a nun's lips? Best case scenario, you keep her around by being a bastard, and then you both secretly hate yourself until it's too late to use other people. Better to have the sexbot, which won't leave you for not treating it badly enough.
Fortunately, I've given you an escape hatch! Your name isn't really Sue, so abandon that persona. It's actually Bella Madesin Jayde Swann McGinley. You can tell your bullies it's spelled wrong on purpose, because you're trendy but special, like a girl Prince wrote a song for in exchange for freaky purple sex.
Now there was a man who appreciated a sexbot.
OK, so now you squared yourself away in comfortable circumstances, unencumbered by ambition and obligated only to your red right hand of bastardry. What to do with your free time? Why not learn a language? Because foreigners smell different, obviously. You could learn to paint, but then you'd miss Dancing With What We Generously Call Stars. And don't play video games, because in this day and age, those are dangerously close to exercise.
Your only pursuits should be the grim arts: robbery and murther most foul. There's good money in irreparable harm for the man whose values are limited to a dollar sign. But you must heed this advisory: A bastard always lets someone else do his dirty work. One murder will get you life in prison, two will get you the chair and 3,000 will get you exiled to a pretty nice island. Congratulations, you just crossed the threshold. Nobody kills 3,000 folks unless they're giving orders, and then it becomes a professional courtesy. Leaders prefer that people not hold anyone in power to the same moral measuring stick we use or we might start getting ideas. That's called strength in bastardry.
PBS forgive us
We have failed you so badly, sir.
That said, murder is a big risk, and bringing in accomplices can cause trouble. "What if da guy squeals?" you ask in some kind of vintage Brooklyn accent, and you make me proud, because you've just learned the final lesson.
Most people are lucky enough to have a mom who wouldn't sell them out. But after that first birthday, you can trust that every hand you'll shake belongs to a rat. A rat is a bastard who's losing. A rat looks both ways quickly before doing anything. A rat suspects everyone of stealing from them, because that's what they'd do. You can tell a lot about someone by their fears.
Filmation or somebody
Beast-Man can't do anything right.
You don't have to be paranoid. It's not that anyone's out to get you, it's that they're all out to get their own.
Anyway, that's my advice. Hopefully you can use it to become a right bastard who wins at all the unimportant things, rather than end up like your granddad, a gentle, kind man who wastes time serving his community and uncovering the truth. Such a man will never understand our laughter, fictional child of mine, as we watch our goons break a clown's arm.
And that's why, son, when you become a big enough bastard, I want you to kill them. Kill them all. Gather every last bastard to your throne for a S.M.E.R.S.H.ian scheme, and while they're plotting where to put the knife, I want you to self-destroy the volcano lair and laugh maniacally as gooey, hot stones plunge from the ceiling. I'll be there, too, proudly thinking I should have seen it coming from a boy named Sue. (I tricked you again. You were Sue all along! Double-cross!) Then I'll hug you for the first time, as the lava turns our arms to gas, and say, "What a finer world--what a bastardless, finer world it will be for your grandfather now to live in, laugh in and love."
Happy father's day, Pop.
Brendan McGinley writes comics about bastards with father issues.
Be sure to learn more about these bastards in 6 Brutal Leaders And Their Ridiculous Secret Hobbies and