Happy Father’s Day Part 2

Posted: June 18, 2013 in Nonfiction

My father and I have almost nothing in common, unless you count behavior. We don’t act alike, but we do stuff the same way. We fidget and react like each other, and we deal with all of our emotions; anger, happiness, and the other one, in the same way as well. So when I went upstairs and turned on the TV, and didn’t hear Dad’s come on too loudly from downstairs, I knew something was up. I checked the bed, (he could have been napping,) and the lawn mower, (he could have been venting,) but he wasn’t there. With the only three options, ignore it, go to bed, or work it out exhausted, I knew what he was doing. Fixing it.

Dad had stormed down the hill that separates our house from the neighbor’s, probably before I’d even gotten upstairs. By the time I got to where he was, Dad was yelling at our neighbor, who was standing around a bunch of guys with yard equipment. He was yelling back. There were four or five of his camper-resident folks rambling about in a loose circle. The weren’t circling like a pack of wolves… just ambling, like a pack turtles or if alpacas could form a gang. They weren’t threatening. They were the type of people who’d work all summer for free camping. 50 -60 year old men who looked scrawny and fat at the same time. Guys with sort-of jawlines and sort-of beards hanging on them. None of them looked malicious or particularly capable, but there were a bunch of them, and they were posturing, at least a little. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like walking down there. I was a game changer in this ridiculous game. I’m a bigger guy, with a beard and a shaved head, and while I’m not a tough guy, I’m not a weakling. Most importantly, I’m not sixty, and, while I don’t know why vets or farmers check horses’ teeth, I assume it’s some indicator for general health and hardiness, and I’d say by that measure alone I evened up the sides. They made way as walked towards Dad and our neighbor.

They were chest to chest, and Dad was red like Krypton’s sun. They were barking, both of them. I don’t really remember what was said. I know dad called him an asshole, and a prick. The neighbor didn’t curse. He’s a well behaved jerk. The worst kind. He talked down to dad and told he couldn’t do that, and that he was well with in his …. whatever. I stood between them and let them go at it for a while. I told them both to calm down while they made random accusations and redresses of past grievances. The Neighbor yelled, “You come down here and call me every name in the book,” I pointed it was only two names, and that that was a really short book. He didn’t think it was funny. I told dad to calm down, and that he was being an asshole, and I told the neighbor to too, because he was doing the same. “He is an asshole!” Dad yelled, doing his best to promote progress in the situation.

Then, the greatest thing in my whole life happened. And seriously, nobody there got to appreciate it but me.

After dad called him an asshole, the neighbor yelled at my dad,

“You’re a Loser Buddy! That’s you’re problem, You’re a Loser! L-O-S-S-E-R! Loser!

He put an extra S in there.

I was the only one that had any idea something terrific had happened. My dad has no idea how to spell loser. And apparently neither did the neighbor. If any of the guys circling around did, they didn’t show it.

I’ve heard of moments like this from other people, but they’re always wrapped up in love or purpose. This was funny, but so funny, it became a flawless section in time.

The world is in harmony and time freezes for a moment. Perfect humor happens. A million cream pies fall from the sky. The president gets hit the dick with a wiffleball bat and a monkey slips on a banana peel.

The world’s in bullet time or maybe underwater. But something beautiful happened, and I’ll never be the same. My head’s fuzzy and swear to god I hear echoes from laughs that haven’t happened yet, from the times I’m going to tell this story. From the ones I hope you’re letting out now.

The record hops back to where it was and I’m stuck between two old men ready to fight each other.

I turn to the man to my left.

“it’s l-o-s-e-r.” I say….  “Loser…1 s… loser”

Everybody looks at me. Maybe they saw the ripple in time too.

“If you’re going to talk down to somebody,” I paused.  “you need to be smarter.” I smiled. And took a dignified bow to the audience in my mind.

The neighbor paused for a second then screamed,”I don’t care how it’s spelled.”

“You care a little.” I whispered, and we locked eyes for a second and we both knew I was right.

Dad was happier than he should have been. And satisfied like a dog that steals a cat’s kill. It was a victory of sorts, and one he’d never known before. A spelling relating triumph.

Our neighbor squirmed and got tight across his chest. “Are you the boy that’s the entertainer?” He sneered. I just smiled and giggled a little. But dad loses his mind. He took a swing, at the old man, not a great one, and it didn’t land well or where it mattered, but he took one. A flailing hammer swing with all the bad intentions in the world. The neighbor took one too, it wasn’t any better. I’m a wide buffer between people when I need to be. Hands had to go a long way to get to the other guy, and I think both of them lost faith in the mission half way there. “That’s enough,” I said and pushed them both further apart. The neighbor took another one and it didn’t fair any better. I didn’t try too hard to stop it. It only seemed fair.

“Get off my property!” he yelled, and he was right. The guys circling around fumbled back to whatever they’d been doing before and I pushed dad up the hill. The neighbor kept yelling as we walked away. Dad tried to turn a couple of times but I ushered him on pretty well. “Let it Be!” I turned and yelled at the old man as we walked away. And he continued to half-heartedly spit insults. “I said Let it Be!” I yelled again. Speaking words of wisdom, like the angriest Beatle.

Later on that day I went down and apologized to the campers and in a second hand fashion, to the neighbor.

“I don’t want this to happen again.” I said. “If it’s a dog or a car or whatever, Fighting like this is stupid.”

“I know.” answered one of the campers. “I’ve known you’re dad since before you were born and let me…”

“I don’t doubt that at all.” I interrupted. “You look very old.”

I still wasn’t happy about the ordeal.

They made good I guess. Or they sort of did. They haven’t fought since. And that’s something. I’m not friendly with the neighbor, but I’m not hostile. And Dad’s made friends with most of those that aren’t the actual guy. That’s kind of his way.

I know it’s an awful white trash celebration, and I know it’s not anything to be proud of, but, I was. Dad swung at the old man when he started making fun of me. That was when he lost it, when he quit just being mad and started being mean. I know part of it is just an excuse. He wanted to throw a punch, and that was a good enough reason, but still, it was the reason. He was taking care of his boy. And I love him for it. A stupid clumsy love that doesn’t make sense or get out in the right way. It might be crappy stories two days late, or punches that didn’t land. But, I love you Dad. With my whole heart. And I’m really glad you’re my dad.

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