My son says, “Daddy, is it Monday?”
“Yep, sure is.”
“Okay. Well then I guess I’ll shut the door and go to bed.”
“Shut the door?” I ask him. “Why should you shut the door?”
“Because it’s Monday,” he says. “Mom says you turn into a crazy man on Mondays.”
I raise an eyebrow. “Oh, really? I had no idea.”
He shrugs and says, “She says it’s Jack’s fault. And you do sound crazy. So I guess I’ll shut my door so I can sleep. Who’s Jack?”
“No one you know,” I say. And I smile, because he is right and she is right. I do tend to lose a little control on Mondays. And it is because of Jack.
When I first met Jack Bauer, he was interrogating a child molester who had been granted immunity in return for information he had about a supposed terror cell bent on detonating a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. Jack was frustrated. The bomb was set to go off in two hours. The endless lawyer-wrangling and red tape was ensuring a win for the bad guys, and Jack was determined to not let the bad guys win.
Extreme measures had to be taken. Jack had to find a way to infiltrate the cell and put an end to the whole mess, but he needed to be trusted by the terrorists. He had to make them think he was on their side.
So he did what any good anti-hero would do. He shot the child molester in the chest, turned to his stunned boss, and said, “I’m gonna need a hacksaw.”
I remember eating a bowl of ice cream while watching that episode. I remember dropping my spoon into the bowl when Jack pulled his gun and fired. Remember staring wide-eyed with vanilla oozing from the corners of my mouth when he made the “hacksaw” comment.
And I remember whispering to myself, “That…was…awesome.”
Thus began my eight-year friendship with Jack Bauer. I’ve never missed an episode of 24 since. I’m not ashamed of that, either. I am a peaceful man. By no means a pacifist, but neither violence-hungry. But if you’ve taken the time to get to know that character and that show, then you understand. Jack Bauer is everything most are not but maybe secretly wish they could be. He is unafraid and confident and determined. He has a clear distinction between good and evil. And though the needle on his moral compass may be bent at times, it always points due north.
I could leave it at that, and for the sake of my family probably should. But I don’t. Because whether it’s the action or the tension or the characters, I get sucked in every time. And it’s noisy. Just ask my son.
A typical Monday night will find me on the sofa and my wife in the recliner. That way she figures she’s close enough to talk to me during commercials but far enough away during the show that her eardrums won’t burst when I yell things like, “KILL him, Jack! KILL. HIM!!”
“I hate this show,” my wife will say between papers to grade.
“Shh!” I’ll answer. “It’s the good part.”
“You think all of it is the good part.”
“Shh!” I’ll say, then, “Kill him!”
This goes far beyond mere vengeance against the bad guys, though. I scream at other people on the show, too.
I call the politically-correct White House staff idiots.
I call the inept higher-ups pansies.
And I call whomever happens to try and prevent Jack from saving the world…well, never mind.
Childish, I know. Childish and maybe more than a little barbaric. I should act better. Be better. And I usually am. Just not on Mondays.
It’s tough keeping yourself in control sometimes. It’s hard to turn the other cheek and love people as yourself and do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.
It’s a process, our becoming. It’s standing up and moving on and knowing all the while that we’ll fall again.
This is the last season of 24. My wife and children are joyous at that. Me, I’m not. I’m going to miss Jack. I’m even going to miss my yelling. Because it’s a good reminder that we can’t always be whom we’re supposed to be because we’re always stuck with who we are.
This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Self Control, hosted by Bridget Chumbley.