POP CULTURE: A Boy Named… Who?


I love the Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Named Sue”. You can sing it; it tells a story; and it’s funny as @#$%. It’s about a boy who was abandoned by his father, leaving him with nothing but the name “Sue”. This made for a hard life for young Sue, who had to learn to look after himself on account of his name. Sue swears that when he finds his father, he’ll kill him. Hilarious, right?

When Sue sees the “low down snake” playing stud in a saloon, he introduces himself and punches Dad between the eyes.  Down goes Dad but comes up with a knife and takes off part of Sue’s ear. Then commences a fight that sends them crashing through the wall out into “the mud and the blood and the beer”. In the end, Sue draws his gun first and Dad smiles. He tells Sue he knew he wouldn’t be around to raise Sue right, so he gave him a name which would kill him or made him stronger. Tearful reconciliation follows.

While Sue’s father’s methods were flawed, he wanted Sue to be able to take care of himself when he wasn’t around. All dads hope to teach our kids that – even though we may go about it in questionable ways, like my Freedom 16 Plan. My three boys are alreadymeasuring my throne with their eyes but, as I explained to one when we were playing FourSquare, I’ll always be the king. If they want to rule the roost, they better find their own. Because I love them, I have instituted the F16P: I raise them to be able to look after themselves should they, after 16, feel they cannot handle my kingly ways.

I WANT them to stick around longer than that (well, until their schooling is done) but, whenever they strike out on their own, it’ll be comforting to know that they, like Sue, can handle themselves. My lessons may be more about cooking, driving a car and succeeding in a job interview but there’ll be some back-alley fighting moves in there too.