FOR THE FATHERLESS ONLY
|No, kid, I can't be your Dad. All I can do is help you make up the difference...K?|
WHEN MY SON GETS BETTER COMMAND OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, I WOULD LIKE HIM TO REFER TO ME, IN TITLE, TO OTHER PEOPLE AS ‘THE OLD BASTARD’. AS IN:
“Nah. Sorry. Can’t. The Old Bastard says he’s not paying for stuff like that.” Or:
“Dread. I’m not doing that. You know what The Old Bastard is like.” Or:
“Don’t worry. The Old Bastard will get us out. It’s your parents you have to worry about.”
|How I see Matt. How I don't want Noah to see me.|
THIS IS NOT INSULTIVE OR DEROGATORY.
IT IS A TRIBUTE TO MY MOTHER, HER FATHER, UNCLE DAVE AND MY FATHER’S SISTERS, ALL OF WHOM WERE EXCELLENT FATHERS TO ME. IT IS A TRIBUTE TO ALL SINGLE MOTHERS.
IT IS AN ETYMOLOGICAL, HISTORICAL AND LEGISLATIVE FACT. A BASTARD IS FELLA WITH NO FATHER ON HIS BIRTH CERTIFICATE. I WILL EXPLAIN ALL OF THAT TO MY SON AS THE MOMENTS PRESENT THEMSELVES.
MY SON IS NOT A BASTARD AND I LET HIM KNOW THAT WITH MY ACTIONS, NOT JUST IN WORDS.
I WANT HIM TO APPRECIATE WHAT FELLUZ WITH NO FATHER GO THROUGH. I WANT HIM TO IMAGINE, FOR A MOMENT, WHAT IT’S LIKE FOR HIS FRIENDS WHO HAVE NO FATHER. AND IF HE PITIES ME, THAT WILL BE APPROPRIATE.
I WANT HIM TO BE ABLE TO REMEMBER THE TIMES WHEN I PLAYED WITH HIM, WHEN I PUSHED HIM AROUND IN A LITTLE PLASTIC CAR FOR HOURS, IMAGINING IMAGINARY SCENARIOS, TRYING TO INJECT LITTLE EDUCATIONAL THINGS IN THE GAME, FIGHTING TO ACHIEVE SOMETHING I HAVE ONLY READ ABOUT OR SEEN AT SOME DISTANCE AND ONLY THROUGH SHADES OF SUBTLE ENVY THAT HIDE TEARS OF...WHATEVER.
MAYBE IT WILL MAKE IT EASIER FOR HIM TO FORGIVE ME WHEN HE REALIZES HOW FAR SHORT I FELL OF BEING ALL THE FATHER A MAN SHOULD BE. MY GREATEST FEAR IN LIFE IS THAT MY CHILDREN FEEL THE SAME THING FOR ME THAT I FEEL FOR MY OWN FATHER. CONFUSION, RESENTMENT, HATRED AND THEN, SUDDENLY, NOTHING. NOTHING AT ALL.
CALLING ME ‘THE OLD BASTARD’ IT WILL SURELY MAKE HIS MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER SMILE.
“Gramma, The Old Bastard says yes, I can spend the weekend with you, if I want.”
She loves them way more
Than she could ever hate me
SHE DOESN’T NEED TO BE TOLD TO THINK OF ME AS ‘THAT BASTARD’. SHE FIGURED THAT OUT HERSELF. I WANT HIM TO MAKE HER SMILE A LOT. SHE’S THE ONLY GRANDMOTHER HE HAS. MY FAMILY ISN’T GOOD AT GRANDMOTHERS. BOTH OF MINE DIED BEFORE I KNEW THEM, AND MY MOTHER DIED BEFORE MY SON KNEW HER. BUT ON HIS MOTHER’S SIDE, THEY HAVE GREAT GRANDMOTHERS AND GREAT-GREATS, NOT JUST MOTHERS BUT AUNTS AND UNCLES. I HOPE HER LONGEVITY PASSES TO HIM AND ENDS THE GRANDMOTHER CURSE. GRANDMOTHERS ARE NOT JUST COOL, THEY ARE IMPORTANT. THEY ARE RIPE WITH THE PERFECTION OF EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE AND STICKY WITH THE GLUE THAT BINDS BIG, WEALTHY FAMILIES TOGETHER.
IT WILL CERTAINLY BE A MESS IF MY SON ONE DAY MEETS MY FATHER AND TURNS TO ME AND SAYS:
|Hey, Alphadick, will you be my granpa?|
“I thought you said you had no father.”
Then I will be forced to say, “Well, he wasn’t there. And being a father is about being there.”
“So if you have no father, does that mean I have no grandfather?”
“Oh no. He can be your grandfather. The two of you just have to work that out. I mean he’s here now and you’re only six, so y’all have time.”
“So he’s here now, why can’t he be your father?”
“Because, I’m 152,445 years old and it’s too late for that. It’s practically impossible to recover a relationship like that now that we’re both dinosaurs. But you’re just a little monkey, so you can do anything you want.”
IT’S GOING TO BE A DIPLOMATIC MESS WHEN I TELL MY SON THAT WITH MY FATHER STANDING RIGHT THERE. AN INTERNATIONAL INCIDENT – MY FATHER SPREAD SEED LIKE OXFAM SPREAD GRANTS – FAR AND WIDE AND WITHOUT PREJUDICE AGAINST ANY RACE OR NATIONALITY. A REAL DICKHEAD ALPHA. BUT NO ONE WENT TO JAIL AND MY MANY BROTHERS ARE AMONG THE BEST MEN I KNOW, SO HE FEELS LIKE HE DID A FINE JOB. A FINE, FINE JOB. HOPEFULLY HE DOESN’T GO TO HELL FOR WHAT HE DID TO OUR MOTHERS.
I AM COMMITTED TO TELLING HIM THE TRUTH AS I KNOW IT. I AM NOT GOING TO BULLSHIT HIM ABOUT ANYTHING JUST TO MAKE HIM BEHAVE OR TO SOCIALIZE HIM FOR THE BENEFIT OF CORPORATIONS, RELIGIONS AND GOLD-DIGGERS. I THINK I WANT US TO HAVE THE RELATIONSHIP I WISH MY MOTHER AND I HAD – THAT PERFECT, BRUTAL, SOMETIMES TRAGIC HONESTY THAT LEADS TO RESPECT AND TRUST, IF NOT UNBREAKABLE FRIENDSHIP.
I CAN’T IMAGINE MYSELF PUSHING MY FATHER’S WHEELCHAIR. I JUST CAN’T. I’M NOT AGAINST IT. IT’S JUST THE SYNAPSES THAT HAVE TO CONNECT TO BAKE THAT THOUGHT ARE STRANGERS TO EACH OTHER. I LOOK AT THE WORDS ON THE SCREEN ‘PUSHING MY FATHER’S WHEELCHAIR’ AND I STILL CAN’T MAKE THE MENTAL PICTURE IN MY MIND. I DRAW A BLANK AND THEN MY MIND SUBSTITUTES AN IMAGE OF MY MOTHER’S FATHER. THAT WAS A REAL FATHER. THAT WAS A DAD. THAT WAS A PAPA.
|Original PAPA: They SHOULD have given you awards for fatherhood.|
MY FATHER? THE BEST THING HE EVER DID FOR HIS CHILDREN WAS WALK AWAY.
SOMETIMES I’M AFRAID THAT’S TRUE ABOUT ME TOO, BUT I DON’T HAVE THE GUMPTION, THE NERVE, THE COURAGE, THE DICKHEADEDNESS, I DON’T HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO WALK AWAY. AND SO, I’M AFRAID THAT I’M ACTUALLY FUCKING MY SON UP WORSE BY BEING THERE. BY BEING A BASTARD, IGNORANT, UNTRAINED FAKE FATHER. I FEAR THAT I DO NOT DESERVE THAT MOST HONORABLE TITLE A MAN CAN ATTAIN: “PAPA.”
I MEAN, I WASN’T EVEN A VERY GOOD OLDER BROTHER TO MY SISTERS. I WAS NEVER THERE IN MY TEENS. TECHNICALLY, I DONE FUCKED UP TWO PEOPLE ALREADY WITH MY NEGLECT AND MISMANAGEMENT.
|My Lil Taliban made me realize I never loved.|
THE DAY MY SON WAS BORN, I REALIZED I WAS A COLD, COLD HEARTLESS BASTARD WHO NEVER LOVED ANYONE AT ALL BEFORE I HELD THAT CHILD IN MY ARMS. MY MOTHER DIED WITHIN A YEAR AND I NEVER GOT TO GIVE HER ANY OF THE TRUE LOVE I WAS JUST LEARNING.
MAYBE ONE DAY, WHEN MY SON GETS TO PUSH THE CART WHILE I SIT IN IT, HE’LL GET TO DO SOMETHING THAT I NEVER DID RIGHT – BE A SON. CONSCIOUSLY AND EFFORTFULLY. AS AN ADULT. NOT JUST A KID WHO DOESN’T KNOW HOW WELL HE’S DOING AT LOVING THE LOVELESS OLD BASTARD WHO PASSES FOR HIS PAPA.
AS FOR ME, I NEVER WANTED TO GET A PASSING GRADE ON ANY TEST SO BAD IN MY LIFE. I WANT TO EXCEL, BUT I’LL TAKE A 51% PASS, BECAUSE THIS IS TOUGHER THAN PHYSICS UNDER MR FEVRIER. THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE. IT MAKES ME SEE WHY FELLUZ RUN AWAY, EVEN THOUGH I CANNOT SEE WITH THEM. BUT THOUGH I AM A GENIUS AT WALKING AWAY WITH A MIDDLE FINGER FOR A GOODBYE, THIS IS ONE THING IN MY LIFE THAT I CANNOT WALK AWAY FROM AND I CANNOT AFFORD TO FAIL AT.
MAYBE THAT’S WHY I WANT HIM TO CALL ME ‘THE OLD BASTARD.’ BECAUSE I LIVE IN FEAR OF MY OWN SHORTCOMINGS AS A DAD, SO I WILL TEACH HIM TO CALL ME DIRTY NAMES BEFORE HE LEARNS TO DO IT HIMSELF. AND MAYBE THEN, HE’LL AT LEAST BE ABLE TO DO IT LOVINGLY. AT LEAST, SOMETIMES.
THIS IS THE END OF THE STORY FOR NOW. THE OLD BASTARD EYES ARE BLURRY AND HE CANNOT SEE THE SCREEN. MUST BE THE ALLERGIES. OR SOMETHING. THE END.
|You have those allergies too, eh?|
(Dedicated to Fathers: Those of old generation who stuck to their guns, the new generation who are just loading the cartridges and the fatherless fathers who are trying to figure out how the damned thing works with no guidance and lots of bad advice from a lot of good people.
But especially, for Benson the Turtle, Renier the soldier, Sylvester the broker, Earl the tailor and Blackie Jordan, the unsung hero of the 20th century. You inspire me personally, your persistence gives me strength. Fatherhood is battle after battle. Hold the line, felluz. We’ll take our breaks when we get them. But don’t break. Hold the line.)