Punk rock is a great way to spend your adolescence, but is has some drawbacks when you’re an adult. For example, having a full back tattoo of a skull-head jellyfish eating Chiang Kai-shek and Fidel Castro enhances your stage presence when you’re screaming into a microphone about anarchy, but the same tattoo makes you feel like a Coney Island freak when you’re at the water park with the kids twenty years later. Punk was about fighting, looking stupid, listening to noise, and being gross. That’s what childhood is all about. Outside of permanent mistakes such as tattoos and ODing on heroin, punk rock is a great way to prepare for fatherhood.
1. YOURE FINE WITH ROOMMATES WHO PUKE ON YOU
While all teenagers get wasted, punks had this thing where you had to be as disgusting as possible while you got wasted. Puking was considered hilarious, and puking on someone was enough to win you the Mark Twain Award for wit. Young kids barf on your shoulder almost as often as they drool, and the only thing that concerns an old punk dad is when his kid didn’t get a good enough arc on it.
2. SNOT DOESN’T GROSS YOU OUT
Babies don’t know how to blow their nose so they’ll just sit there bubbling green slime out of their nostrils until the cold goes away. One night when my infant daughter was congested, I put my lips up to her nose and sucked out about a pound of snot before spitting it into the sink. My wife was mortified but my daughter could breathe, and I felt like a great dad. (I didn’t know the Swiss had invented a handy rubber tube that can get it out of there.)
3. YOU DON’T MIND LOOKING LIKE SHIT
Speaking of gross, we spent almost a decade wearing black shirts covered in barf, dandruff, and snot. As a new dad it’s almost impossible to make it to the office without looking like you slept on the floor of a porn theater. This is embarrassing to many fathers. We don’t care.
YOU ARE NEVER EMBARRASSED
Little girls love doing this thing where they divide your hair into a million tiny ponytails with multicolored rubber bands. It’s so hard to get these out that you often have to leave the house looking like Tommy Lee at his most annoying, and that means people on the train laugh. We used to spend hours on our hair trying to look as retarded as possible, so being laughed at is considered an accomplishment.
5. YOU UNDERSTAND BEING OBSESSED WITH PANTS
Ordering tartan bondage pants from London took months of saving and waiting, so when they finally arrived, you never took them off. Skinheads would attack anyone wearing Doc Marten boots, so owning a pair meant you were willing to die for them. So when your daughter is so attached to her red cords that you can only wash them when she’s asleep, you think, “That’s perfectly reasonable.”
6. SLAM-DANCING PREPARES YOU FOR BEING ATTACKED
When you have three kids, you are in a mosh pit 24 hours a day. Even sitting down to read the paper means one kid is wrapped around your neck while the other two use your back as a “daddy slide.” This can be incredibly irritating if you’re not used to being mauled, but spending your formative years in the mosh pit means you have no problem with people jumping on your head.
7. SKINHEADS ARE GIANT BABIES
They’re bald, often racist, and will hit you in the face for no reason whatsoever. We spent years dealing with these boneheads, so when I’m holding a little Buster Bloodvessel and he slams me in the face, I know he’s just a needy child looking for attention.
8. YOU UNDERSTAND TOTALLY INSANE IDEAS
A lot of the punk ethos was about rejecting authority and thinking for yourself, which is very healthy. However, the “anything goes” philosophy often drifts into WTF territory. They passionately sing about how awesome it is to be on welfare, insist Jesus is dead, and tell you that shaved women are collaborators (whatever that means). Being bombarded with such intense levels of ridiculosity your whole life prepares you for the incredibly weird shit kids say. About once a day my son informs me that “The Bob Marley has begun” and he will usually add, “Scientists say, when you read a book to love, you just fall apart.” I totally get both concepts.
9. NOISE SOUNDS LIKE CLASSICAL MUSIC
Though there are a few poppy jams such as “What Do I Get” and “I Want Candy,” most punk music is a cacophony. Most songs are just angry people yelling at you while their friends strangle and smash instruments in the background. Most would hear the intro to “Government Flu” and think their speakers are broken. Old punks think it’s serene. So when your daughter starts hollering, “Hey, hey, hey, I’m a Batman” while your son bangs on the garbage and the baby clangs pans, you think, “Oooh, I can’t wait until the chorus kicks in.”
10. YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHY DRUGS ARE BAD
All drugs are bad for you, but most parents are incapable of explaining exactly why. As someone who watched about 12 people die from heroin, I can say, “Look at it this way, kid. You can fuck an 8 who has no STDs or you can fuck a 10 that has AIDS. Mixing a tiny bit of pot with a lot of beer is a great high that’s 80% as good as heroin. Why play Russian Roulette for that extra 20%?” Pot makes movies funny, but it kills your ambition. One Molly pill makes music better, but you’ll bad-trip when you get older. Adderall is just speed, and we saw what that did to Lemmy. Cocaine won’t kill you, but it will turn you into a paranoid douche. Oh, and don’t pour hard liquor up your ass. It will give you alcohol poisoning.
In the end, being a good parent isn’t just about imparting the lessons you’ve learned. It’s about living with really weird roommates who speak gibberish, punch each other, and regularly shit their pants. In that sense, I can’t really tell the difference between being a teenager and making three future teenagers from scratch.