Friday, March 25, 2011

Emperor Dad (Part 7 of 47)

© 2003 by Henry Melton

Saturday morning, James called Suzie the first thing, but she didn’t answer the phone.
She was steamed.  She hadn’t argued, much, when he had gone back into town and gotten the milk like he’d been asked.  She just sat there, arms folded, not even looking at him, until he’d dropped her off at her house.
He was mad at her too, and his father for interrupting.
It had taken him a long time to settle down and go to sleep.
His dreams, what he could remember of them, had been dark and lush.  Like a shock, the feel of her skin came to him.
There was a knock on his bedroom door.
It was Dad.
“Hi, James.  I’m sorry we didn’t get to talk after you got home last night.  How was the game?”
James shrugged.  “Wet.  Half the crowd was gone before they even called it.”
“You did well, I’ll bet.”
He nodded.
His father, closed the door behind him, and pulled up a chair.  He gave a big sigh.  “Prepare yourself son.  This is the ‘birds-and-the-bees’ talk.”
James felt a flicker of panic.
“Now, before I start, am I correct that you don’t have a girlfriend?”
James nodded.  Probably not.
“Good!  I can’t imagine how much more embarrassing this would be if you already had a girl.
“I assume school has already filled you in on the mechanics of it all.”
James felt himself flush, but at least his dad wasn’t staring him in the eyes.  During the first part, where his dad talked about condoms and the differences between real world sex and movie sex, he tensed up.  He couldn’t help it.  It was like watching the needle go in while getting a shot.
Only when Dad started talking theory did it get interesting.
“There’s instinct and there’s training.  Sexual attraction and the basic moves are certainly instinct.
“But people act with much more complex motivations than that.  If you do something good, you get a good feeling.  You eat and your stomach is satisfied.  You move away from fire and your skin stops hurting.”
“You exercise and you get endorphins,” James added.
“Right!  It’s a complex system where actions are rewarded or punished and those responses get trained into the brain.
“I think, and this is just my opinion, but I think that sexual orgasm may be the strongest training system in the human mind.  It is intense.  It’s a reward to the brain.
“So, it certainly looks like a training signal.  But what is being learned?”
“To have more sex?”  James started to relax, just a little.
“Maybe.  But think about it—that’s already an instinct.  It doesn’t need to be trained into the brain.”
James thought about it a bit.  In spite of the topic, learning and thinking things through with his dad was one of the things he liked to do best.  Since he learned to talk, it seemed, his father would announce ‘Pop quiz!’ and ask about something off the wall that was interesting or practical.
“Maybe ... maybe sexual technique, or something about the girl?”  He thought of Suzie, angry at him with her arms folded tight.
“Possibly.  But that’s a big load of pleasure for something external.
“My thought is that when the orgasm hits, a person’s self image is burned into his brain.  Just think about it.  If a guy is being a sneak in order to get sex, success will burn that self-concept into him.  ‘Being a sneak gets me sex.’
“Or if a guy has overwhelmed the girl with his macho bluster, then that’ll be his key to more sex.  Or the same with the guy who has to pay for sex.  Or the guy who has lied to the girl.  Or whatever.
“It makes sense to me that biology would tune the human brain for more sex.  Environments change.  Cultures change, and much faster than instincts can cope with.”
James nodded, but he shied away from thinking about what he might have learned last night.  Letting the girl call all the shots. 
“You might learn a lot of bad stuff that way.”
His father smiled.  “A lot of people do.  Biology doesn’t care about what harm you do to the people around you, or what harm you do to yourself mentally.  All that’s important to biology is more sex, which means, statistically, more babies with your genes in them.
“I hope and pray that when your time comes, your self image will be of an honorable man who cares deeply about all the people in his life.”
Once Dad left the room, James looked over at the phone.  He sighed and shook his head.  Maybe it was a mistake to think about sex too much.  He felt his mouth twist into a grin that was more grimace than smile.
Maybe that’s why some Dads give their sons the talk.
The map overlay was working perfectly.  Bob flew the remote sphere up US Highway 89, to the junction with Highway 64 and turned west.  He glanced at the readout on the screen.  The scale had long since shifted from feet/meters to miles/kilometers.  884 miles.
Someday, I’m going to just input the destination and blip!—it’ll be there.  But he was too nervous to do that yet.  He wanted to watch every step, just in case he’d forgotten something.
He could see the Grand Canyon.  The sphere was small, and there was a whistle of air coming through it.  In or out, he didn’t know and he was not going to put his hand anywhere near it to find out!
There!  The main viewpoint.  He remembered it clearly from their vacation a couple of years ago.
Carefully staying out of sight of the spectators, he moved the sphere below the railing where decades of tourists had tossed coins into ravines impossible to reach.  He edged the sphere up next to the cliff and engulfed a coin.
The first penny fell through the opening in space and struck the floor hard, bouncing high enough in the work shed to hit the metal ceiling hard.
Bob jerked away, as if he had been shot at.
Potential energy.  He paused.  The canyon walls were at about 7000 feet altitude, and he was at 600 feet.  Falling that distance, the penny must have picked up a load of energy.  It would be like catching bullets.
It’d been a bad idea.  But this was useful information.  He looked over the scene.  Mostly pennies.  I could work all day and not make much.  I’ll need to hock something else.
He had to have money to show for the job that he was supposedly doing.  Raiding the coins had seemed like a good idea, but it was a bust.
A tap of the keyboard brought the remote sphere back home.
The clock on the computer screen ticked away the minutes.  James will be out of football practice soon.
Bob hated to do it, but he put the remote sphere back into the pickup’s clock, and brought the tracking map up on the screen.  He still didn’t know who the girl was, and when James had denied having a girl friend, he had a bad feeling about her.  It was horrible having to spy on your son.
When he gets home, we’ll do something together.  James is growing up fast.  Soon enough he won’t have time for me.
Until then, he had some math to go over.  Every experiment, the sphere gave him something new to puzzle over.
I’m a physicist, not a mathematician.  Bellerman space equations seemed simple at first, and then doubled in complexity every time he tried to nail them down.

1 comment:

Mike G. said...

Bob jerked away, as if he had been shot at.
Potential energy. He paused. The canyon walls were at about 7000 feet altitude, and he was at 600 feet. Falling that distance, the penny must have picked up a load of energy.

It would be like catching bullets.

Good point. That's really well covered in Vernor Vinge's _Witling_ - the other thing to keep in mind which can be even more serious is the different vectors that different places on the Earth's surface move due to rotation - a north-south speed difference, and an east-west rotational angle difference.

The bit about the pressure differential made me think of an interesting application for this: you could make a pretty good 2-cycle engine by having one of these things empty a cylinder to vacuum on the upstroke, then just refilling with outside air on the downstroke :)

Post a Comment