Sons and clones

Last night I met a guy in a bar and shortly before he passed out he said something that sounded to me like the most lucid thing Id heard about cloning:

Have you noticed the weird thing about sons and fathers? The more you try to be the opposite of your Dad, the more you end up just like him. Take me. My Dad was so distant and undemonstrative and such a workaholic and so conservative. I set myself against all that and was convinced I was a totally different person - someone who would break the mould. I went completely against what he said. 180 degrees.

Fifteen years later, one clear morning, I suddenly realised. I was writing a letter and it suddenly dawned on me how similar my handwriting was to his. That got me thinking. The attempt to be the great artist and join the avant-garde hadnt worked out the stuff I produced at art school was always too cerebral, too stiff and so damn mediocre - and despite myself I ended up in an office just like the one where my Dad had started out. Only, because he started out much earlier and without the crazy ambitions - those ridiculous delusions - he worked his way up the ladder quite calmly. I'm stuck in this job and it looks as if I'm here to stay.

I may be no workaholic, but Im still so damned obsessive. This drinking thing is such a hard habit to kick and its so joyless. Dad never seemed to really switch off. I switch off alright, but it ends up just as joyless and compulsive as his addiction to work.

"My Dad might have been so narrow-minded but at least he was being himself. Maybe he was distant and he always seemed so blinkered but in his own humble way he achieved so much. He was a success. He turned out to be a really good manager people really respected him and he supported a whole family for godsake.

"I had these big ideas. I was gonna be different. But I was so like him I could have been his clone. Like I said, there's the handwriting. It's weird. I could sign his cheques and no one would know.

"I could have been his clone, but I wasn't. If I had been his clone perhaps I wouldn't have had such crazy dreams and been such a jerk thinking I could escape the fate of middle management and be the worlds next Jackson Pollock or Andy Warhol.

So if I have a kid hes gonna be a clone of me. Im gonna clone myself and spare the world another sad story of self-delusion. Clones know who they are. They see their Dad and they say, Thats me. Like it or not, thats me. The way I see it, clones are gonna wake up to their limitations pretty damn quick. Not like me. I was over 30 before I stopped dreaming about the big break that was never going to come. And that way the liitle guy will be spared all these blasted hopes all these distressing frustrations.

Im not gonna be one of those dumb parents who wants their kids to succeed where they failed. No. Im gonna help the liitle guy accept himself for what he is. Hes not going to be anything special. Hes gonna know that looking at me. But hes not gonna have to end up coming to terms with some kind of terrible mediocrity. Hes gonna accept it from the start. It wont be a big deal or a big let down. Itll just be the way things are.

If he can accept that, he wont fight against his fate like I did. If he can avoid that, maybe he can get to feel the satisfaction Im sure my Dad felt having achieved what he achieved.

I couldnt bear to have a regular kid and see the same story repeat itself. No, its a clone or nothing.