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Running coach - dinosaur

Filed Under , on August 25th, 2018

Surplus Children

By Seth Kabala

Crouching under the elevated prison, the man held his hands over his ears, rocking back and forth like a buoy on a turbulent sea. No, no, no, he thought. This could not be happening. He’d done everything by the book. Prepared the beast’s meals exactly as prescribed, acquired the best clothing and medicinal skin remedies, and read from the most revered spell-books in the land, the ones proven to have slayed beasts for centuries, if only for a night at a time.

And yet, here he was, rocking on the cold ground underneath the prison, the beast writhing above like a serpent roused from its slumber, an errantly placed foot the unsuspecting culprit, soon to become the unsuspecting victim of endless nights of pacing. He pulled his hands down his face, hoping the action would summon ancient magic to whisk him away from the noise, and now the stench of the latter stages of the beast’s tantrums. But it was no use. The beast would have its way. Once again, he rose from under the prison, lowered the bars of the crib, and lifted his child. Time for the all-night daddy hop.

* * *

Having more children and hoping that the next one is going to be the good one is like the Jurassic Park folks in each successive movie. They keep trying to get nature under control, but each time it turns out to be a nightmarish monster that, in all likelihood, will kill you. By “kill you” I don’t mean you’ve bred the demon seed of Chucky; I mean sleep deprivation. I mean an aching back that feels like a pole vaulting pole that’s been bent back too many times, never knowing if this next flex will be the one that sends it shattering into millions of shards that only a qualified surgeon, or the number 18, can remedy.

Don’t believe me? Let’s go down the record of movies to see what happened each time science nerds decided to play God. I’ll compare the first three movies with each of my children, written in chronological order of birth, to illustrate my point.

Jurassic Park, 1993

A billionaire investor, high on hubris, enlists the help of top scientists to clone dinosaurs from fossilized DNA. “Life finds a way,” Dr. Malcolm says, upon seeing the lab, giving his curt assessment of the strength of Jurassic Park’s control over the vicious creatures, and he is right. The dinosaurs break out; limbs are severed and scattered; an annoying lawyer is eaten while taking a shit; and everything goes to crap.

Everything.

William (Will) Kabala, 2006

He came into this world with such promise, the beautiful product of kids doing what they do and making something with which they are ill-equipped to deal. There he was, all eight-something pounds, seeming to weigh no more than a loaf of bread. Then I had to carry that loaf of bread up and down the halls in our apartment for six months straight, as it was the only thing that would get him to sleep. God forbid I committed an error in the ex-filtration strategy once I’d laid him in his crib. Otherwise it was back to the hall pacing. Is he brilliant, smart, kind, artistic? Yes, yes–all those things. But in the beginning, the monster was real.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park, 1997

Turns out there was a second island used for breeding dinosaurs before transporting them to the main island. Instead of raining hellfire missiles down on the beasts (which is both logical and would have made a good film), the super smart science nerds decide to save them, then kill them, then decide they’re all fucked and try to save themselves.

Katrianna (Anna) Kabala, 2007

“It’s a girl! We have our baby girl!” my wife, Amy, exclaimed as Anna was born. What would she be? Doctor? Senator? Fashion designer? CEO? Humanitarian? Paleontologist who, against all logic and reason, argues for clemency for the lives of flesh-hungry beasts who– Wait, what? (Forgot which story I was in.) 10 years later, she is musical. She is kind. She has wonderful emotional intelligence–some of the time. The rest of the time, she mugs a perfect impression of Disgust from Inside Out.

Jurassic Park 3, 2001

Remember my line about against all logic and reason? It applies here. Against all logic and reason, the same paleontologist who went to the island in the first movie agrees to return to the island. I understand he does so for magnanimous purposes (searching for a missing boy), but sometimes, you have to make the decision to let the universe do its thing. If you want to go exploring on an island known to have once housed dinosaurs that KILLED EVERYTHING, maybe that’s your own damn fault, and we’re all going to pull a Pontius Pilate and wash our hands of you.

Not so. Films must earn.

Gabriella (Ella) Kabala, 2011

She was my perfect child. Will and Anna were brilliant in their own regard, but they had one incurable flaw: they hated coffee. I love coffee, love a single origin Ethiopian grind, dark Sumatra, espresso from NYC cafés–love it all. Unfortunately, no one else in my nuclear family felt the same way, until Ella. For years, whenever I made coffee at home, Ella would bound up to me, smile wide, and insist on trying my coffee, black or otherwise affected. I finally have my perfect child, I thought. Then she dropped the bomb. She didn’t like coffee; she liked that I thought that she liked coffee. Got that. She’d faked it to be close to me. Take a moment to say, aww. Then boot that feeling over the fence along with my dream.

Things are never perfect. But I don’t want them to be. Plots where things always work out are boring as shit. Figuratively speaking, I’ll take a few scurries through the cafeteria being chased by velociraptors, so long as the dinos are only CGI. Easier cleanup and all.

Thank you, God, for my brilliantly flawed family. This flik keeps getting better.

I can’t wait for the next scene.

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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, musician, family man, and juggler of balls--big ones. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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