Monday, February 07, 2011

Kind of a weird birthday

Yesterday was my birthday and I had to work (I know, right? What kind of job makes somebody work on their birthday...especially when it falls on a Sunday! Don't get me started...) so I was kind of out of touch with the part of my life that occurs on-line. When I got home and jumped on the computer, I had several Happy Birthday wishes waiting for me on Facebook. I sat down to the task of replying to each of them individually, even if it was just "Thanks (insert name here)!", which was the case a lot of times...but I made sure to spell all the names correctly. You see a lot of people on Facebook who respond to their well wishes by putting out some kind of blanket statement...
"I just want to thank everyone for all the kind birthday wishes! Thank you so much! I love you all!"

Blah blah blabbity blah blah blah
Oh, screw you, jerk. What kind of crap is that? Are you some kind of rock star who has so many fawning admirers that the task of actually replying personally to all of them is simply too overwhelming of a chore for you to undertake? What a crock of shit. Stop smelling your own farts and get over yourselves, you phonies. Or don't, for that matter. I could care less. But as for me, if somebody takes time out of their day to pass along their best wishes for my health, wealth and happiness, the least I can do is take time out of mine to acknowledge it. In other words, once again, be more like me.

Anyway, around the time I was replying to the four or five hundredth reply(honestly, I have so many fawning admirers, I can't possibly be expected to remember how many there are), the notion that I am actually older now than my dad was when he died really sunk in. Not in any kind of morbid, impending mortality way...just that the idea of being older than one of your parents the last time you saw them is just such a weird, bizarre concept. Due in large part, I think, to my maturity level, or rather, lack thereof. My dad was more sensible, pragmatic, no-nonsense and serious in his 20s (at least it seemed that way to me as a kid) than I am now. He was a cop and his tolerance for bullshit was virtually non-existent. Two quick stories to illustrate this point:
  • One summer on vacation, we went to an amusement park in Tennessee. It was mom, dad, me, my sister and my grandmother (his mother-in-law). We drove quite a ways to get to this place, parked, went through the line to get in, paid our admission fee and immediately upon passing through the gate, my grandmother said, "I feel like I would just slow you all down and be a burden so I'm just going to sit here by myself on this bench. Don't worry, I'll be fine all alone. You go and have fun." Dad's response? "Fine. See ya when we see ya", and off we went. If she had whispered to me in the car what her plan was I could have warned her it wouldn't work.
  • Because when I was much younger, the family piled into the car one night for a nice dinner out. I asked from the back seat, "where we goin'?" and dad replied, "Mr. Steak". For whatever reason (I don't recall what it was), I was feeling the need to be a belligerent little prick (that's probably all it was). "I don't wanna go to Mr. Steak", I muttered. ERRRRRRRK! "Fine. Get out. You can go back in the house and eat whatever you find. But we're going to Mr. Steak", he said in a way that clearly indicated that as close as he was going to come to considering my opinion on the matter was to stop the car before making me get out of it.
In short, my dad didn't play those games.
This might indicate that my dad was dour and humorless, but that isn't the case. He loved to laugh and would do so really loudly when something amused him. It's just that when it was time to take care of business, he took care of business. The fact that I, um, mostly don't, and never really have, preferring instead to laugh loudly (and make as many others do so in the process) even (especially!) when that might not be the appropriate response has always been highly indicative that I'm probably not likely to grow up to be just like him. Now that I've reached this particular birthday, it's official.
That probably shouldn't be a shock, since we always were so very different, for the most part. I loved my dad and admired him but we always came from drastically disparate angles when it came to general demeanor and also likes and dislikes. He tried desperately to get me to love golf as much as he did but that just didn't take. He also tried to get me to wear my hair like his. Nope, not happening. I was fond of a virtually maintenance-free, early-Beatles-like mop that hung straight down all over my head and stuck out funny when wearing a baseball cap while he tried to get me to use a, what was it? A comb? I think that's what he called it. We couldn't even have a conversation about music. Not because we'd argue but because we spoke entirely different foreign languages. I didn't need to know from Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Barry to appreciate Prince and Talking Heads and other favorites he dismissed as "weirdoes". And while he had a sense of humor, he certainly didn't laugh at a lot of the things I did/do. That's standard growing up stuff though. Everybody goes through that. But I wonder if he were around and we were of the same age, would we even want to hang out together? I'd like to think so but I don't know that we would. Not out of any kind of enmity but just because I didn't grow up to be a carbon copy of him. Then again, maybe that means we'd get along even better. I miss him and still dream about him all the time. Vivid dreams where we do hang out together, talking and getting along just fine. And in those dreams, he's the age he was when he died and I'm as old as I am in real life (so, basically the same right now), even though I feel/act like a juvenile delinquent next to him. But I feel/act like a juvenile delinquent when I'm awake, so who knows? Nobody, I guess. Certainly not me.
Just kind of a weird thing to think about on my birthday.


1 comment:

Donna said...

Much h

Much to say, yet speechless. A
heart exposed needs peace.