"My daddy's boots don't fit me,
'Cause I'm bigger than him.
He says I make him sick, but,
I'm bigger than him."
Ever since I started posting stories on the web, my father, who has been reading them regularly, has decided to give me advice on my writing style. He's not a writer, but he seems to have an opinion on everything. Every week I'm forced to listen to him tell me what words to take out of what stories because they bother him, or what else I should write about. He also keeps asking me to write about him. He reminds me of all the crazy things he's done on his own, or to me directly over the years, and tells me to write them down because they would make interesting reading.
We were in a mall a few weeks ago, and he took off his shoes while we were walking around. I asked him what he was doing, and he told me that his shoes were uncomfortable. I dropped the subject, but he had to add, "Why don't you write a story about that?"
Let me make one thing clear: I didn't start writing these stories for any reason in particular. I didn't do it to grandstand, to meet chicks, to voice my opinions about the world we live in, or to make anyone happy to see their name on the Internet. They're sort of my little journal/diary/autobiography. Just so much oral masturbation. As such, comments about them, while they are appreciated, are not needed. I know I'm no writer. I know my syntax, grammar, and my ability to stay in one time frame instead of constantly switching from past to present tenses all suck. I know I ramble and I know my leaps of logic, digressions, and subject changes are of mammoth proportions. At least my computer spell checks for me. That and my proofreader are really all I have going in my favor.
Believe me, I'm glad that people seem to like these stories. Hell, I'm amazed people actually read them. I'm constantly forced to reiterate that all these stories are true. Some people think I make this stuff up.
My father of course encourages my making things up for the stories. He's constantly telling me to invent events that never happened and write about them. He thinks it would make things more interesting. I personally think my life is interesting enough, thank you. I don't need to add fiction. Some of the things I've done are stranger than any fiction. Read the Spring Break story, and tell me you can make this stuff up. You just can't.
The problem with writing a story about my father is that I don't need to relive anything worth writing about. When I write these stories I sit back for a minute and remember exactly what happened in every detail. I have an excellent memory for crap like that. Sometimes I laugh out loud while writing and sometimes I cry all over my keyboard.
I've already written a few sad stories, tear-jerkers if you will, but I've only posted a couple of them. Some are too personal, or too current to put out there for everyone to read.
Stories about my dad, at least the ones that might for some reason seem interesting to anyone, are too painful to put into words and re-experience for me. I don't want to put myself through it, and I don't want to put the few people who are goodly enough to read these stories through it either....
My father and I never really got along. We were too different. He and my mother divorced when I was young, so I only saw him on weekends and a few short vacations here and there when I was growing up. A few years ago I did something (I don't remember what), and he told me, "I didn't raise you like that."
So I told him, "You didn't raise me at all. All you did was pick me up on the weekends and then leave me in your apartment while you went out." Sure, sometimes he took me with him, but what fun is an eight year old going to be at an adult dinner party, or on a date?
My father always used me as a trophy when I was growing up. "Look at my son," he would say. And then it was my obligation to perform for his friends.
When I was eight, or even younger for that matter, if any one of my father's friends were to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, the only acceptable reply as far as my father was concerned was a Lawyer. I was not allowed to give any other answer for fear of reprisal from my father.
Hell, I didn't even know what a Lawyer was until I was twelve. Even then, I didn't fully understand what they were or what they did. I'm still learning.
The fondest memory I have of my father is from 1977. The movie "Star Wars" opened and I asked my father to take me to see it. It was opening day and there were lines around the block. It was sold out forever as far as I was concerned. There was no way for me to see this movie. I was six at the time, and the Star Wars hype was my entire world.
My father walked me around to the back of the theater as the crowds were exiting from the previous showing, and in we walked through the exit doors. A security guard stopped us, so my father gave him five dollars, and he let us in.
I got to see "Star Wars" opening day on one of those huge screens sitting right up in front.
But as good as that memory is, there are hundreds of bad ones that overshadow it. Some are so bad that I really can't justify printing them here....
When I was fourteen I was visiting him in Queens one weekend. I was in the gym of his building playing basketball. I jumped up and when I came down, I heard a snap. I limped back up to his apartment and told him what happened. I was pretty sure it was broken, and I was sure it hurt like hell. Rather than take me to the hospital, he put me in a cab and sent me back to my mother in Staten Island. The whole time he insisted that it wasn't broken. I had always listened to my father back then, and by the time I got back to my mom's the pain had subsided a bit. I walked to school the next day and while limping up the stairs to class I saw my friend Tom about twenty feet down the hall ahead of me. I hadn't seen him yet that day, so he didn't know I had hurt my ankle. All he could see was my head coming up the staircase, so he slid his book-bag across the floor at me. When I got to the top of the stairs the bag hit me in the legs, and I fell. It hurt a lot, so I called my mom, and she came and took me to the hospital.
It turned out to have started as a chip with a hairline fracture, but after all my walking on it and Tom's bag nailing me, it turned into a fully broken ankle.
I really don't want this story to turn that way, going into all the bad things, so I'll turn it around....
When I was fifteen my father got re-married to a twenty-five year old. It was a lovely Las Vegas wedding. He showed me pictures.
For the past year he had been asking me to move in with him so he could rear me right. He wanted to make sure that my mother wasn't brainwashing me against him. That was always his excuse as to why I didn't like the things that he liked. I was never interested in playing tennis, even though it's his favorite sport, because my mom brainwashed me. He used it as an excuse all the time.
So I moved in with him. Unfortunately, he had just gotten re-married, and I didn't like my new step-mother at all. He also didn't really want me there now that he had a new bride. So he moved me into my own apartment.
I was fifteen years old and living on the twentieth floor of a really nice apartment building with a balcony and a full Manhattan skyline view. Of course, my father lived right next door so I was sort of supervised. Whenever I got home I had to ring his doorbell so he knew I was back. Most of the time I would ring his bell, then go out again.
When it came time to pick a college, I wanted to go to art school. I was a pretty good illustrator if I may say so myself. But art school was never an option. I had to go to a school for law. I didn't HAVE to. I could have told him to go to hell and left. Gotten a job and put myself through whichever school I wanted to. I can't even explain why I didn't; I just don't know.
As I'm sure you can guess, I really didn't look for a top pre-law school. Actually, I didn't really look too hard at all. I was at a party at someone's house, and a friend of mine was wearing a hat that read, "C.W. Post." I asked him what it was, and he told me it was a really cool school on Long Island that a friend of his went to.
So I got my college directory out, looked up Post, and sure enough, it had pre-law classes. It also had a really nice girl/guy ratio, and it was rated as a not too hard school over all.
It was the only school I applied to. I was accepted, and for the next four years I took Criminal Justice classes and had a pretty good time while there.
When I graduated and it came time to take the LSAT's, I was a little scared. This determined my future in Law School.
The first one I was supposed to take I missed. It was being given at the College of Staten Island. I grew up around there, so I decided I didn't need directions. I searched that campus for quite a while looking for this test until someone explained that they renamed CSI recently, and now the College of Staten Island was on the other side of the island, and this was a different school altogether. Well, by now I was late for the test, so I skipped it.
The next time it was being given was a day after my birthday. I figured I could skip one birthday for my future. The night before the test, on my birthday, a bunch of friends called and told me they were having a party and wanted me to stop by. They knew it was my birthday and had gifts for me. So I went.
My plan was to get what gifts they had, have one drink, and come home.
At about 2 a.m. I left the party.
I somehow made it to the LSAT the next day. Halfway through the test, I fell asleep. When I woke up I decided I didn't want to go to Law School anyway. A fact that I've known for many years, just never let it sink in. For better or worse, I was not going to go to Law School.
My father of course threw a fit. He pestered me for years about it. Always pointing out famous and rich people that were lawyers and telling me that if I had gone to Law School, I'd be making six figures by now.
At the end of 1995 my father went to the hospital for a liver transplant. He had had Hepatitis a few times as a kid, and a few other contributing factors speeded up the sclerosis of his liver to the point where it needed to be replaced if he wanted to live.
He made it through, and I took care of him both before and after the surgery with the help of my Uncle Charlie. Charlie was praised by my father for helping him in his time of need. For dropping everything to come out and help. I was yelled at for not helping enough. For not sleeping in the hospital room with him while he was recovering....
But you know what? I didn't care. I knew I was there helping him when I needed to be, and honestly, he should be glad for that. I could have just left him. I thought about it. I might have done it had I really thought about it hard enough, but I didn't.
After he had recovered a bit he decided that this was his new chance at life. Things were going to be different this time.
One night he actually apologized to me for forcing me to go to Law School. He told me he should have sent me to whichever school I wanted to go to. He actually used the phrase, "Ruined your life." For a moment I agreed. He did ruin my life. Who knows where I could be right now had I gone to art school? I could be a famous artist, or starving in a loft in SoHo.
I honestly don't know if my life was ruined. If I had gone to art school, would I have had the same experiences as I did at Post? Probably not. Would I be the same person that I am today if I had had different experiences? Definitely not. Do I like who I am today? Yes, I actually do. I've become comfortable with who I am over the years, and I really don't need to regret my choices to explain my stature in life. I'm okay with me. Finally. So, yeah, he did ruin my life, but I fixed it. And that's all that counts. In fact, I did get what I wanted in a way. I'm slowly turning into a writer, and writing's an art, isn't it? Maybe not the way I do it, but it sort of is.
And I guess my father got what he wanted. He got me to write a story about him on my page. I don't know if it's exactly what he expected, but this isn't exactly the form of artistic expression I was hoping for either. He'll just have to make do. I did.
If you have any questions, E-Mail me. Spat@spat-nospam-cave.com