Leaving Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Michael Rotundo might have been a kid once but he appears to be hell-bent on remaining immature forever. 

Even after repeated notices and an offer of cash to move out of his parents’ home in Camillus, New York, the recalcitrant Rotundo pulled a real-life Failure to Launch and refused to budge. 

So, his parents did what every loving mother and father at the end of their respective tethers would do.

They took him to court.

Early last year, a New York judge ruled in favour of the parents, Christina and Mark Rotundo, and ordered the 30-year-old man to leave. However, he wasn’t going down without a fight. He claimed he’s owed a six-month notice, which would give him ample time to prepare for such “a big step”. 

Television footage showed the rebellious Rotundo to be bearded bespectacled and, true to his surname, beefy. He was also lazy and a cheapskate to boot: his parents testified that he’d never paid rent nor did household chores, all the while obdurately remaining at home where he wasn’t wanted in the first place.  

Was Michael always like that? 

It would seem so, certainly, his parents thought so. Michael, it appears, didn’t need anyone to make a fool out of him: he was more like a do-it-yourself type. At 18, neighbours recalled his mother getting furious with him for always kicking spilled ice cubes under the refrigerator. 

But for the future tyrannical tenant, it was simply water under the fridge. 

He was always a strange kid, his father recalled grimly. There were five in the family and Michael was convinced that one had to be Chinese because, statistically speaking, one out of every five people in the world is Chinese. 

He suspected that it might be his elder brother Colin or his father or his mother. Or it could be his younger brother Lee Ho Pang but he still suspected it was Colin. 

You might say he was strange. Incidentally, both Colin and Lee have since moved out of the family home and lead successful lives. 

Maybe it had much to do with his surname. Indeed, in his heart of hearts, the stubborn squatter acknowledged that he had always yearned for a good, stout, Anglo-Saxon name like Major.   

Now there was a name for you, thought the corpulent colonist admiringly. And you could be inventive with first names here. You could name your son Michael or Sergeant, or for the truly accomplished, B Flat Major. 

Alas, poor Michael. It had to be hard having a name like Rotundo and being neither slim nor svelte like his brothers Colin and Lee. It wasn’t that being fat ran in the family: it was simply the fact that he was the only one who didn’t run in the family. 

Worse, his nickname during his formative years was “Ample”: you might not leave home too if you’d been called Ample for most of your natural life.  

During his teenage period, the would-be recalcitrant refugee took refuge in Diet Cokes. It made him feel better about having two Big Macs and a strawberry sundae for lunch every day for most of his high school days. 

But you know what they say; hell hath no fury like an ousted obdurate. Michael’s planning his own revenge: he wants to choose his parents’ nursing home. 

Forget The Womb; Just Stop At Tomb

Things are going crazy out there. 

The latest: a 27-year-old Indian man plans to sue his parents for giving birth to him “without his consent”.

What’s next? A woman taking a baseball bat to a fast food outlet for lack of beef? 

I tell you, the world may be really going to hell in a hand basket. 

– Back to the legal eagle. No one has seriously challenged Jho Low a.k.a Felonious Fatso for resident poster-child for birth control but Mumbai businessman Raphael Samuel is putting up a stiff fight. 

He told the British Broadcasting Corporation that it was wrong to bring children into the world because they then have to put up with lifelong suffering.

The bitter businessman thought he could prove it too. He first pointed out that the leading cause of death was birth. Having laid down that shyster-slick legal foundation, he invoked echoes of Thomas Hobbes – “life is nasty, brutish and short” – to claim that everyone was born “naked, wet and hungry.” 

“Then it simply gets worse,” the morose merchant concluded mournfully. “Don’t you see?”

It is well known that ignorance of the law excuses no one. In India, it also excuses no one from practicing it.

Mr Samuel, of course, understands that our consent cannot be sought before we are born, but insists that “it was not our decision to be born”.

So, as we didn’t ask to be born, we should be paid for the rest of our lives to live, he argues.

Apparently, Mr Samuel’s mission has its roots in a philosophy called anti-natalism – a school of thought that argues that life is so full of misery that people should stop procreating at once.

In fact, Mr Samuel was ceaselessly haunted by the awful and hellish knowledge that somehow, somewhere, a baby was being born every twenty seconds or so on Planet Earth.  

It was something he brooded over constantly, sometimes in the dead of night, and he thought the incessant production should cease immediately or – and here, he choked back a bitter sob – “it would all end up in tears.” 

Woody Allen knew it would all end up in tears but he thought about these things more in a sort of rueful abstract. “Life is full of misery, suffering and loneliness,” the wannabe saxophonist once said. “And it’s over much too soon.” 

Raphael did not know Woody and secretly suspected he would not like the fellow one bit either. “What kind of name is Woody anyway?” demanded the embittered entrepreneur indignantly. “I mean, that’s the whole problem right there…too many Woodies!” 

Maybe there was always something slightly off-kilter about the mournful Mumbaikar. Here was a man trapped in a woman’s body – for nine months and only then was Raphael born. It seemed he had never got over that initial introduction to the world. 

That was then. The once-irate industrialist is now a freshly minted debonair-dandy-about-town. Meet Raphael Samuel, whose face peers out of advertising hoardings and whose address women write to daily proposing marriage.

What is the moral of this tale, you may ask? 

It is simply this: Some men are born famous, other men achieve fame but Raphael talked to the BBC and got fame thrust on him. 

Then he hired a really good publicist.