Monthly Archives: March 2015

Off-Putting Mother Fucker

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OK… so I’m sitting in a restaurant last week, I won’t say which one, but there was like one other guy in there. Of course this guy decided to start a conversation with me from across the restaurant, now I don’t know about you, perhaps I’m just uptight, but I don’t dig this. I mean, I don’t need some guy from across the dining room chatting with me over my Princess Bowl. So here’s where it’s weird, this guy was one off-putting mother fucker… I knew that right off… but I’m single, you know, ever hopeful all the same. You know the type, the off-putting type? We all know the type… they come in all types, in all off-putting shapes and off-putting sizes. This one was a grinner.

The grinning man sat there being over-enthusiastic about his vegan this-or-that, and though I couldn’t work it out, I swear he had a tattoo of Christ’s severed hand with a sparkly middle finger… like ET or something. At first I thought, “Don’t be judgmental… give the guy a chance… maybe he’s the one…” then the rest of me just screamed “What the fuck? Are you kidding?” The next thing I know he’s asking me “what that dot is on your head.” “A bindi” I said, trying with all I had not to sigh. Then he not only begins asking me what religion I am, but immediately tries debunking it with his impenetrable logic.

I could get specific about the details of our exchange, but I’m not sure the punch-line of this thing is worth it. Anyhow, he doesn’t like any of the answers to his questions about what Hindu’s believe. By the way, Hinduism is a 10,000 year old religion, it’s hard to explain the complicated intricacies of it across a restaurant through these over-simplified silly questions he was asking. But he kept asking questions, and then time and again he would sit back, pronounce some abstract negation of what I had just said, would grin and say “OK,” and then would go on. He would sit back as if he was really teaching me something. That’s was what intrigued me about this guy… he carried himself like a sage but was just whacked!

This dude was impressed with his brain. He asked if he could sit with me. Well, at this point I was still wondering if I was missing something here. See… that’s the thing about weird situations, I’ve learned that they are often not as weird as they appear on the surface, same with weird people. Plus, I’m a total softie, so I have a hard time saying no.

So… he joined me, then went on asking about why I choose to do good instead of evil, which, by the way, was pretty presumptuous on his part! I mean, in the eyes of many Christians, every day I’m condemning myself to hell for something or other.

He sat with me and quizzed me to the point of absurdity, and I caught on and realized this was all part of this script in his head so he could do this schtick he does, and all through it he would sit back as if he were the Buddha. And of course he would refute or attempt to deflate everything I said. Then came the final straw.

Wait for it…

He said “I have a creation story, wanna hear it? It’s short!”

“Well… so long as it’s short,” I dribbled, half whining, half murmuring, altogether exhausted.

He then told me how the universe was created when two rocks collided and left an impression, and all we are is a memory of a memory of a memory… OK.” He then sat back and grinned.

“Check please!” I called, turning all the way around to catch the attention of the waiter.

Well, first off, no, it’s not “OK,” and secondly, I had no idea what this guy was talking about or on about, or on at all.

I then did something I never do. I often suffer these loonies, and I don’t know why… am I afraid of hurting their feelings? But I had just seen “My Life Without me,” and it was about this girl who was dying of cancer, and one of the things she wanted to do was tell people what was on her mind, and I think subconsciously I was thinking of the scene in that movie when she did say what was on her mind (which, ironically, was also set in a restaurant), so I looked at the guy and I said: “Not only do I have no idea what you are talking about, but frankly, I’m just not that interested.” Is it mean of me that I felt really good about saying that?

He paused, then said he was going to leave in a moment, and explained that he’d just been trying to figure out why people do good instead of evil.

Buddy, you’re gonna have to work that one out on your own.

Dear Old Dad

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I was listening to “Shelter” by Cheap Trick tonight (see below)…

“If I had my father
He would smile
If I had my dad
He’d be so kind
If I had a dad
He would tell me I was good
Oh, if I, if I
If I had a dad
Had my dad”

…went the final verse. And so the memories came, memories of dear old dad.

Dear old dad.

He returned from the war to see his new child in the arm’s of his wife. He took one look at her, and how this baby, me, had changed her body, and the first thing he asked was if that weight was permanent. From that moment forward, so says my mom, dad hated me.

Dear old dad.

And our relationship was never much better. I don’t remember much about him throughout my early childhood, I know he missed my first steps and first words. Dear old dad was off fighting the war. Dad thought the whole war was created by the government to get kids hooked on drugs, but he thought it was wrong not to answer the call and serve. He fought an immoral war, dear old dad.

I never could understand dear old dad.

When I was young he used to sneer at me in disdain when I, a precocious child, embarrassed him in front of his friends. And he hated the ice cream cones I ordered when we went to Stoddard’s, and I would have to listen to the toxic sap of his derision as I sat awash in guilt and self-loathing throughout my attempt to enjoy my simple ice cream under the downpour of his seething contempt. I used to want sprinkles or that hard chocolate shell on my ice cream cones. He would sit in the front seat and repeat with a whiny sneer: “You always have to have something special,” always putting all his hate in every syllable as he spun and whined the word “special” through the bile he held in his mouth in my name. He was relentless.

Ice cream with dear old dad.

We’ve been estranged now for, dear heavens, a decade or more. Not a single word has passed between me and my old man. He hated hippies, and hated being called “my old man,” which was something hippies did, and he told me never to call him my “old man.” Hippies had spit on my old man when he returned from the war.

My old man.

As a child dear old dad wanted me to take up fishing with him. He was so simply happy at the prospect that I could not say no when he suggested that I spend my birthday money on a fishing pole. Dear old dad wanted to take me fishing. I bought a fishing pole, for us, the problem was, I didn’t want a fishing pole. Yucky worms and stinky slimy fish… no thanks. In his way, he tried, poor old dad.

Poor old dad.

He was magical at Christmas. Something in his heart opened wide, and he let go. Like the Grinch, somehow Christmas warmed him, and he loved us for a month or so, dear old dad. He would smile, give, celebrate, and every Christmas I hoped and hoped that he would recognize who he could be if only he would stop himself from crawling back into that hole, that shell of bitterness that was dear old dad.

Twice a year, each summer, when we went into the hills of Pennsylvania for the family reunions it would be the same with dear old dad. All smiles, my old man, fun-loving, charming, a touch of Christmas in the summer. Then… back home, and the same old…

…Dear old dad.

Right back to smug grinning and grunting guy he always was. At dinner my old man, shirtless, would nod or grunt at what he wanted, and my poor mother would translate, “Pass your father the peas.” He’d grunt again or give a side-eye look my way if I had the butter, then mom would speak up again, “Pass your father the butter.” It seemed “normal” at the time.

So I’d wait for Christmas, for dear old dad.

You might remember that I said dear old dad hated hippies, and he pretty much stopped talking to me when he perceived things about me that were hippy-like. One of the songs I heard over and over was from some country turd, and this line from it has been burrowed under my skin like a tattoo: “Kicking hippies asses and a-raisin’ hell.” Yee-fucking-haw!

Oh, dear old dad.

My old man loved music, I have to give him that. From him I learned to be passionate about the music I loved. From him I learned to be selective, and neither of those lessons do I resent. I remember going to the homes of my friends and trying to find their albums. I remember being downright chilled when I realized they had none, or that those two or three albums behind the end-table were the extent of their collections. I couldn’t live like that, then again, neither could dear old dad.

Dear old dad.

One night, after we had misbehaved, mom announced at dinner that dear old dad was going to have to spank us. Dear old dad clapped his hands with glee, and with the same contempt that wound and sneered from his mouth over my ice cream cones, he said how much he was going to enjoy this.

Dear old dad.

That may have been the last time dear old dad spanked me. He put me over his knee, and I placed my head in the palm of my hands, assuming the position of boredom. I had decided not to cry, not to give him the satisfaction of crying. And he, dear old dad, wasn’t going to stop until he won out. My brother, perhaps a lot smarter than me, cried right away and ran off rubbing his rear. I, however, realized that it didn’t hurt, not in the least… so I kept my chin in my hands and waited. Eventually I pretended to cry just so it would stop… I was so bored.

So bored with dear old dad.

Count the words in this piece… more words than dear old dad ever spoke to me in one sitting, and without exaggeration, possibly more words than he ever spoke to me in all the years I knew him.

Dear old dad.

All through my teen and college years, whenever I came up the stairs from my room he would glare side-eyed at me, just so I knew how much he hated everything about me, dear old dad. And God damn if I didn’t stumble over the top step every time. His eyes bored such nervous self-consciousness into me, dear old dad.

Dear old dad.

He was smart, capable, creative, often inspired, but he shoved it all down, preferring to remain “normal,” as he called it. Dear old dad had some notion of what “normal” was in his head, and his strange compulsion to match that ruled his life, and my own as well.

Dear old dad shoved it all down, his creativity, his intelligence, his inspiration and passions, all for sports, all for the the countless hours he spent manning and dominating the TV like a tyrant. He just sat there hour after hour, night after night, hating and denying, and never knowing how much beauty was in him, or how much beauty was in me.

Dear old dad.

Hippies weren’t “normal,” neither were artists, so everything I knew or loved was “weird” somehow, to dear old dad. Hell, I even remember him sneering contemptuously at me when he came home and heard me exploring Mozart, “So we’re listening to long-hair music now,” he said with spite. I guess dear old dad thought classical music wasn’t “normal” either, or maybe he just thought Mozart was a little too “special.”

And oh how my old man hated the Beatles, and hated me for loving them. My old man hated the Beatles in 1964 when he got in the car with his friends and asked why their hair was longer, “We’re going Beatle!” one of his cousins said in reply. My old man hated the Beatles, but never missed “Help” or “Yellow Submarine” when they were aired on TV, and through him I learned to love George Harrison’s album “All Things Must Pass,” ’cause he played it all the time when I was a toddler.

I never understood my old man.

But I love “All Things Must Pass.”

Thanks to dear old dad.

Dear old dad sat in judgment of me, and every friend I ever had. He thought himself upright and morally superior, and he reigned in the glow of his self-appointed superiority. His judgments were the shaft of the final straw.

The night I moved out (long overdue as it was) of my parent’s house, it was dear old dad that drove me away. His mom and dad were visiting from Florida (we all grew up in Ohio), and he was troubled and embarrassed about his parent’s seeing some hippy-this or hippy-that aspect of me. Unlike their son, my dear old dad, grandma and grandpa loved me, so one weekend while they were visiting my aunt, he decided to tell me to either stop doing hippy-this or hippy-that, or I could “find some place else to eat.”

I set my fork down and said, “I’ll find someplace else to eat,” and I walked away from that table and never slept another night in that house with my old man. And all the while I laughed a wicked little laugh inside to know that he was going to have to explain to his parents where I had gone when they returned.

I won that round, dear old dad.

But you were right, it was time for me to go.

Dear old dad, the moral superior, the one who handed down edicts and judgments, he who hated everyone for their weaknesses, was discovered to have been getting blow jobs from his secretary (or something from someone). At first, however much it hurt my mom, I was secretly happy, it was good to know that this brittle husk of a man still had blood in his veins, he was suddenly human in my eyes, but I despised him now more than ever for his hypocrisy.

My old man was a hypocrite.

My old man left my mother, walked out on her after decades of marriage. Went off with his secretary. Of course it wasn’t his fault, he told my mother the divorce was my fault. After all, if she had sided with him over our quarrels (I thought she had), they would have had a better marriage.

Dear old dad blamed me for his infidelity and divorce.

I gave up on dear old dad. I let him go, never wanted to see or speak to him again. I know, I know, a lot of people feel a need to come to peace with their old man, a need to find closure, me… not in the least. Not in the least.

I never want to see dear old dad again.

One evening when dear old dad came “home” to visit my brother, he asked if he thought I’d ever speak with him again. My brother, God bless him, told him it was too late, told him he had the chance to communicate with me for all those years, and he blew it, after all, I had already changed my name.

Dear old dad.

Sometimes I think about dear old dad, and I realize something very terrible… I hate him more than he ever hated me.

And the only thing I hate more than him are the bits of dear old dad that I see in myself. How I hate those bits of my old man.

My old man.

My old man.

My old man.