Month: June 2016
“So…who are you voting for??”
I’ve been asked this question so many times over the past year. And, honestly, it’s a legitimate, community-binding question. Right?
Often I would like to ask, in return, “I’m not sure yet, but let me ask, how many blow jobs did you give last year?!?” I don’t, of course, because I have decorum, dammit. But still. It would certainly raise a few eyebrows.
Politics is a polarizing issue. People love to talk about it! My Facebook page is rife with opinions (many wrong), thoughts (many stupid), and ideas (some worth while). Politics, though, truly is one of those subjects that gets even the most benign individuals to open up. Politics and religion. And sex. And the whole LGBT thing. And “Game of Thrones,” for some reason. Whatever.
I’m not a political person. I have peripheral knowledge, information I’ve gathered from the internet, billboards, news reports, and opinionated customers at work (because retail). I’m a Democrat – there, I said it. And that’s no secret. I am perched deftly on the Left Wing because, well, the Right Wing is all mangled and shit. But that’s just my opinion. I know about Hillary’s email scandal, but the details escape me. I know Bernie wants free education for everyone. I know Trump has small hands or some shit like that. And a trampy wife, but money can pretty much buy you anything.
I couldn’t have a political conversation/argument/debate to save my life. The last time my mother was here she started rambling on about Obama and what a mess he’s made of the country. I just nodded. If Obama has ruined the country, I haven’t noticed. At least no major buildings were pummeled by hijacked planes on his watch, but that’s a different story. All I know is I’m as well versed in politics as Ann Coulter is in shutting the fuck up.
Admitting to being a Democrat might give away which I’m leaning in the voting booth. But it’s still none of anyone’s business. It feels so personal, doesn’t it? Someone recently asked me, quite seriously, “You’re voting for Bernie, right?” It’s as if someone was asking if I’ve seen “Office Space.” Apparently an amazing film, but admitting to not seeing it is akin to not knowing men have walked on the moon. “How can you not have seen that movie??”
Easy. I haven’t seen it. There, done.
I’m being ornery, I know. If you know me, that’s my sassiness shining through. The truth is, though, I’m not letting a single soul know who I’m actually voting for. Okay, I will not be voting for Donald Trump (should he get the nomination, but as of this writing…duh). Maybe I won’t vote at all. Okay, that’s silly, but still. Maybe I won’t. (seriously, I’m kidding.)
Whatever the case, it’s often just voting for the lesser of two evils, isn’t it? Politics might be polarizing, but we can all agree on that. That, and Ann Coulter needs to shut the fuck up. Honestly, who invited her to the party? She doesn’t even go here.
Well here I am, two cocktails in to an otherwise uneventful evening. Am I drunk? No, not by a long shot. Am I feeling like I could spill a secret if a national terrorist organization demanded it of me? I’d lean toward yes.
So, here goes:
Have I told you my father left my family when I was eight years old? Up and gone. Poof!
Well, not quite so simple. I wish it were.
What do I tell you? Do I tell you about the day I begged and begged my mother for a dollar so I could go to the grocery store and buy a soda, knowing very well we didn’t have the money? A dollar. Can you imagine? We didn’t have a dollar, yet I asked for it. I should be ashamed of that, but I was eight years old. Eight years old. Isn’t that the age you start to truly remember things? Embrace them as part of your life?
Do I admit to you that feeling of shame, leaving the store, knowing I was enjoying a sweet beverage when that dollar could have gone toward something as substantial as food? A dollar in 1983 was a lot of money. Again, how could I possibly know, at such a young age??
Do I tell you about my father, coming toward me along the dirt path that led to the store, looking stern and serious? Do I tell you about how I froze, and wondered what he might say? Or, worse, do? He was in a rush, walking quickly, coming toward me like he knew I’d done something wrong. I was petrified. I can see him now: dressed simply, slacks and a t-shirt, his hair thick and shiny, his mustache threatening and rust-colored. “He was such a handsome man,” family members have told me, years later. I could swear he was clenching his fists.
“Don’t tell your mother you saw me,” my father said. Seven words, the last I’d hear. He might as well have dropped dead right there. But he didn’t.
Instead, he swept past me as if I were nothing more than an afterthought. His son. The child he had a hand in creating. Abandoned, a pair of old socks you toss in the trash. A cigarette smoked to the nub, flicked into the gutter. An empty beer bottle you chuck in the garbage. I turned back to look at him – I remember this clearly – and he didn’t turn back once. Not once.
I said nothing to no one. Even when we were forced to pack up and move, because my father, as manager, had stolen all the rent money to go gambling. I told my mother about the incident years later. She understood why I’d said nothing. What good would it have done? I think, even at eight years old, I knew my father’s departure was coming. I can’t imagine how, but I did. His involvement in my life was peripheral, at best. Showing up at Christmas one year. Patting me on the head at dinner. Jokes, laughing, being a Part Of Everything.
I don’t remember much of him. I have a few pictures, nothing substantial. I feel nothing but hate for him. Resentment. There will never be forgiveness, the way they teach you on Oprah or Dr. Phil. “To forgive is to let go, and to move on with your life.” Fuck that. If there is a hell, I hope he’s burning in it. Why? I’ll tell you why.
I know very well my life is better for not having had my father in it. Had he stuck around, who knows what kind of train wreck our family would have become. But what I do know is that he took away the choice. He took it upon himself to disappear, because it was easy. Is this my consensus? No. My family agrees with this completely. My father was a coward, always had been. I can’t begin to imagine any redeeming quality about the man. NONE. “Try, Sean, there must be something.” There is nothing. I see him as I would see a mannequin – hollow, useless, nothing more than a stand-in.
There are blessings, I suppose. I am who I am because my father did not stick around. I think if he had, I’d have killed him. A knife to the chest, or a gun to the temple. Quick, simple, clean.
And it would have felt wonderful.
If he is dead – and I hope he is – I can only wish I’d some hand in it. Maybe I did. I pray he was crippled with the decision to leave. I pray he thought about me, my sister, my mother, at least once a day. And I hope it hurt. If there is a god, then it hurt. A lot.