Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Glad to be Home Again

I'm realizing with some regret that I've moved on from my family. Physically of course, but philosophically as well. My dad has always had dreams of becoming rich, but he has always lacked the common sense it takes to harness the momentum that he has made an art of building. I used to look at him with three-d glasses, but now, without them, he's just a fuzzy mess.

God, I feel guilty.

He's all promise and no delivery. Like when I was a boy. He waxed poetic about college, how I was going, and he was paying my way through. But when the time came, we were living in a trailer without the proverbial pot to piss in. Far from having any money saved, he took from me what little I had. Not that I would have spent it wisely. I was too much like him to think ahead.

And still, part of me can't bear the thought of sacrificing a thing for tomorrow. I thrive on the last minute save.

My family is just like my wife's in one aspect. Both dump the entire weight of a failed and frustrated life upon their children. This weekend we spent Easter at my grandma's home, which politically is a controversial move. Dad figures that he's the head of the family now that Grandpa has passed away, but we will not stay with him.


Let me count the ways.

On our last visit, his St. Bernard bit my youngest son. It turns out, thankfully, that the dog was only posturing. I blogged about it when it happened. But the scare at the time, the helplessness I felt… All just to make my daddy feel loved.

He swears that the house is ready for visitors, but it only has one bathroom, and the access is through the master bedroom. They gave us the master bedroom and slept upstairs, and used a porta potty, the kind that kids use for the first time.

To complicate matters, my dad's wife's son is staying with them, who as it turns out, pisses out the window to avoid having to go through their bedroom at night.

Wow. I can't wait.

I am starting to totally fucking resent the pressure.

So this weekend, dad said he'd come for the day. But when I told him we were going to visit a few relatives, he made a lame excuse for the morning and said he'd be late. With that time off, so to speak, we did a little sightseeing. When he showed up and found out that we still hadn't visited anyone, he made an excuse and left early.

His wife told me it was a "sharing" thing.

Tell me this: am I going to be this pathetic? If so, then take a gun and shoot me through the skull.

Why is it pathetic? Because the man has lived his entire life and made nothing of it. He lives in a home in the middle of Amish country that is barely adequate to sustain life. And that's fine. But he thinks it's an oasis, a paradise retreat, and expects everyone around him to tell him so. He wants me to subject my family to his delusion, and I won't do it.

Man, sometimes I just want to disappear.

I mean it. There's something wrong with him. Something seriously wrong. I used to think it was sorta cute how he would tell the same story over and over, each time growing it just a little. I think he actually believes the stories now. He told one about me this weekend, while I sat there and nodded, affirming the total bullshit.

Basically, what he said, was that I fell down a three story elevator shaft and survived it by grappling all the way down with the various protruding implements. The truth is that I fell one story from atop a wall in a house he and I were framing. Sure I grabbed a few things on the way down, but even if I didn't, I would have been banged up but living.

He told another. When I was a boy, there was a wall -- and I remember this -- that had large bricks with deep hand holds that tempted me to climb it. It was a two story apartment building to my recollection. When dad first told the story, he caught me on my initial ascent, grabbing me by the collar and pulling me off. This weekend, I was three stories up, and he had to run up the stairs and reach around a corner to get me.

You could see as he told it, something behind the eyes. He was working out the logistics. You see, the reality only called for him to reach up and snag me. The story changed even as he told it this time. It was two stories, then there was a stairwell, and oh yeah, it was three stories.

And then! All the men in the family sit around like big fat Buddha kings, waiting for the women to serve them, milking from that experience the only self-esteem they'll ever achieve.

And then all the pissing and moaning about the diseases they've endured, the spouses they've buried, and the death that will surely come soon. The white pallor and the bloated bellies, and the various groups of people in the world that have kept them down, as if they somehow deserve better than they got.


I'm just glad to be home again.


magnetbabe said...

I distinctly remember you blogging about the dog bite, I think it was around the time we "met". To me, that is enough of an excuse never to bring your boys around again. And the stories? I was embarrassed for you just reading about that!

Don't think you'll ever be pathetic. You have the perfect example to show you what NOT to do. And don't worry, you'll have plenty of people in the blogoshpere to call you on it if we sense patheticness coming on...

jenbeauty said...

I remember when the dog bite happened. Plain awful and I remember how upset you were. I don't blame you for not wanting to stay there.

As for the stories, it is age. Trying to make more of your past and posturing for someone else's benefit. It is sad when someone has come to that because they know, somewhere in the heart and brain, that they did not accomplish what they set out to do.

Last, were you in Ohio Scott?? In Amish country to boot?? Did not let this blog buddy know??!!

Hugs hun....being home is always better!

Beth said...

Dog biting. So scary and terrible, Scott.

I have a brother-in-law who sounds exactly like your father. Both my sister and he make up stories about their life and many more excuses after that concerning why they're not wealthy. Mainly it's, "we don't kiss butt." Which implies my husband DOES since he makes more than both of them combined.

It's always a double-edged sword and I now just nod and smile at their comments. I rarely put myself in their path so I figure I can handle it once or twice a year.

I always look at "bad" relatives in our lives as our greatest teachers. I think I wouldn't be how I am without seeing the other side so clearly. Maybe this is the gift your father is giving to you. He makes you crave your authentic self.

Jaye Wells said...

It's so painful to realize our parents aren't what we want or need them to be. I'm sorry your Easter was disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Look at it this way, you did not have a `safe, boring` upbringing.
Neither did I.
So now you know what you do not want in your life.
It is very clear what you do want for your sons. None of this foolishness or aggression.
Life is good. Be proud that you came from this and turned out fantastically.
Your father needs the stories to remind him of his life as he sounds lonely now .. no harm in that. In a funny way he is paying you compliments when he tells the stories about you .. he is admiring you.
Just soak it up.
I do when I go home. It isn`t easy but, hey, if that is all my father has, a few stories to make his life brighter ..
Remember WE have very good lives, we are very, very fortunate. xx Thank goodness.

Scott said...

Nat - I know I can count on you to keep me on the straight an narrow!

Jen - Yes, I was in Ohio, and yes, I did think of you. Problem is, I can't buy two minutes to myself, much less the time it takes to branch out for a visit. My life is not my own. Sad (and happy) but true.

Beth - I love that quote, that bad relatives are our best teachers. It's so true. I do a lot of smiling and nodding myself.

Jaye - It wasn't all that bad, just disappointing in some ways.

Anon - Is this Nicola? If so, I never really knew much about how you grew up. We never spent much alone time. I really regret that. I hope everything is going well for you. As for your advice, I am proud of turning out ok after all this. I could be better--much better. Still, by comparison... And I know my father is giving me credit, and I love him for it. But you know what I really want? I want the guy that I used to admire to stand up and take control of his life, instead of milking success from mine. I just don't understand how people give up. He didn't just do that yesterday or the day before. It's been since we lived in New York, before I graduated from college. There's no excuse for hanging it up when you still have some fight left in you. But you are right, we do have good lives, and are very fortunate. I just wish sometimes that we all did. Foolish, I realize.

Anonymous said...

My father is a trainwreck also. In some ways, he might be easier to deal with because of just how bad his is. In your case, your father is normal enough to create these high tension, twilight zone situations.

In a lot of ways, I am the reaction to my father. Kind of my anti-father.

mr. schprock said...

Sounds like the Waltons to me.

My dad repeats the same old stories to me too, but, in my case, they are exactly the same. At least your dad puts the effort in to embellish his stories a little bit.

I like the guy pissing out the window. Resourceful.

Alan said...

You know, this has to be the most adult place I've ever been to on the internet. Or I guess I should say, most relevently adult. I appreciate everyone's candor here, I swear to God I do. I've needed to read things like this. Since this isn't my blog, I'll limit my thanks to just that.

Scott, hold your head up. You might not realize it, but you started teaching yourself how to be a man long before you acknowledged your father's clay feet. Boys idolize their Dads. That's the process. And Dads rarely were what their sons perceived them to be. Given the minds of children, I'm sure the Dads couldn't possibly have been. Sometimes the reality check is harsh in later years. Sometimes the reality check gets cut short by a heart attack or cancer or some such. Sometimes an adult male gets a Hallmark life with a wise, wonderful shining example of a Dad ... whom he learns to resent and despise with all his remaining years. And on and on. The permutations never end.

But Scott? I like who you are in the now. And that credit goes to you.

Jeff said...

I think every family has its bizarre traits. Mine is no exception. I've often thought of writing a story about my family and sending it to Ripley's Believe It or Not.

Anonymous said...

Over time some people become numb from just the day to day grind of raising a family.
Fathers feel they have wasted their lives and so they use their children as a way to try to reconnect. It makes them feel alive again. Pretty sad but true.
I had a very happy childhood and now I have a very happy adulthood. Some people cannot say that. Why? Is it just attitude? Or is it a reality ...
Who cares.
My father is eccentric but, when I visit, I always put myself first before his whims. Takes practice. Sometimes I feel a bit disrespectful but ... `I have been there done that` so I have to trust myself. It is an adventure in the best possible taste.
You are a great man. Your sons do see that and always will. Your wife is amazing.
You have a very strong family. Nothing can shake that. Not even your fathers stories .. hee-hee .. remember you and your family are the `bees knees`.
Try and enjoy your fathers eccentricities before he goes. Just make sure you and your sons and wife come first. Keep it safe. Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Oh,I forgot to tell you ... you have to take `guilt` out of your vocab ;-)
That word does not exist.

Bailey Stewart said...

I firmly believe you will never be pathetic. You have a totally different perspective, educational background and socio-economic lifestyle. What your dad exhibits is a low-self-esteem. My dad would embellish stories to make himself seem bigger than he was.

Oh, and I like your picture - handsome man.

Toni Anderson said...

You know you won't be that pathetic. We all have family to endure. I never fit into mine, going home is like visiting intimate strangers.

Your dad sounds like he's trying at least.

jenbeauty said...

awww worries...I am the same way. I was up that way though, never know we may have been in the same church on Sunday LOL.

The Zombieslayer said...

Wow, Scott. I guessed I'm blessed to have a somewhat functional family. My in laws on the other hand we have to avoid because they'll make some excuse to borrow money from us, so they could pay their bills. Their welfare money they either use for drugs or paying off gambling debts.

That story definitely makes home feel good.

And by the way, I've always thought of you as someone who's intelligent. Don't let your family bring you down. I'd avoid them, as we're avoiding my in laws. It's no good for your kids.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Ah, the joy of forcibly shared family time.

It's a reminder of why that buffer between you exists - so you are not constantly reminded how much progress you are making in relation to your elders.

When I say 'you', I am referring to me.

In case you hadn't guessed.