Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Crazy Male Parental Unit

Just look at that mustache. This man has stories.
Father's Day is this Sunday, and seeing that I am a poor college graduate, I have nothing to give my father unless you count this sad attempt at a tribute to him as a gift. I thought hard about this blog post - which is odd, because I seldom think about the shit I write in this thing - and I decided that there is a plausible conclusion: my dad is a strange paternal specimen. The man taught me ideas and histories that my high school and undergraduate classes barely touched on. He taught me "real-world" skills for the Zombie Apocalypse. Hell, my dad even helped to give me a sense of humor (even though my mom is cause for 80% of it). And even though he still sees me as an innocent, four-year-old girl with dirty dishwater hair and no shoes on (ever!), he talks to me like a human being and not a stupid child. The guy takes an interesting perspective on parenting, for sure.

When I think of my father, my brain-cave fills with memories of the times that my siblings and I visited him (we're "broken home" kids, which means we'll fuck you up if you say anything about it) and the times I lived with him. I also remember a lot of things that he taught me, albeit through crazy hands-on learning experiences of what not to do when your dad is a Vietnam War veteran.

You see, kids, my dad saw some shit, and he went through a lot of shit to get home from the shit that was making life as an eighteen-year-old male in late-1960s America so shitty. Obviously, I didn't know him then, but I do know that it makes for some fun parent-child experiences, such as learning to wake someone up from more than 10 feet away to prevent getting my throat crushed, or playing a really fucked up Hide-And-Go-Seek game where the object is to hide in plain sight, or my favorite time: story time. Yeah, sure, I was read Goodnight Moon and Winnie the Pooh at bedtime, but at any other time in the day, my dad was prone to tell my siblings and me random shit in military history, naval sciences, or even Hitler. Seriously. I learned about Hitler as a small child, sitting at the kitchen table during one of our many "family dinner discussions," which ranged from how Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal could successfully spawn inter-special offspring, to how propulsion works on watercraft, and then to goddamned Hitler. Yeah, we were those kids. We learned almost too much, it seemed, but we loved to learn, and Dad had a brain that looked over-ripened with tasty, succulent and off-the-wall knowledge. We learned about who General Creighton Abrams, Jr. was and why Dad doesn't like him. We know about Dwight D. Eisenhower's insistence on holding priority with educating children over building more nuclear weapons as well as his ulterior motive behind the interstate highway system. Because of Dad, we know how an M-16 1A operates (it's a serious of tubes, no lie). The man wanted us to learn, dammit!

Dad couldn't always be a teacher of histories and gun mechanics, though. My siblings and I needed to learn "real-world" skills, such as fire-breathing and how to successfully engage a target while riding bareback on a horse with a bow and arrow (I'm kidding. He taught us other shit, like what color clothes to wear at night to keep from being seen). He also taught me how to operate a manual transmission in a two-toned 1988 Dodge Colt. He was the most patient person to ever sit in a vehicle with a 15-year-old girl whose first attempt at gently releasing the clutch while equally, and as gently, pressing on the accelerator resulted in a Mach-1 reverse into a bush. He didn't jump, yell, or get out of the car. He paused, shook his head, smiled at me, and said, "Honey, you've just learned reverse. Let's learn first gear now." Who the fuck can't love a dad like that?! Holy shit! And oddly enough, he also taught me how to iron clothes.

This is my dad - standing in front of a huge, mobile wiener. 

I guess I should mention that for some time - and sporadically now, my dad wasn't around. As kids, we lived with our mom (who is also pretty fucking awesome and awesomely fucking pretty), but I often drifted between the two houses. When I didn't live with him, there would be months I wouldn't hear from him, but I learned at an early age that Dad just liked to disappear. I never expected to see him at most functions, but learned to appreciate the times that he did. I guess Dad taught us a valuable lesson in that, too: time is fleeting, and he can't always be there for us. He may not have been there to raise us, but he did play a part in teaching us to grow up.

After my divorce, my dad called often enough to let me know that he still cared for my well-being, and when he figured out what happened, he was livid enough to threaten to come to Georgia and put the hurt on someone as retarded enough to fuck with his daughter. He was being that typical, protective dad, only with Vietnam Crazy Powers and a majestic, unkempt mustache that serves as the only physical evidence proving his celestial-walrus upbringing. We still talk, and he always insists on telling me that he's proud of me for how far I've come and for doing my best to keep making my life better.

Thanks, Dad. You weird, crazy intelligent, nomadic guy with space-walrus mustache powers. Wherever you are, be it The Walrus Galaxy, a mustache competition, inside a book about naval ships, or even at home watching Spike TV, have a good Father's Day. I made you a macaroni necklace. Again.

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