Concerning my Father, I often wonder whether he feels blood really is thicker than water. Dad has one of the most explosive tempers I have ever known a man to possess. Whether it’s arguing his liberal perspective on politics or the fact his San Francisco 49ers are the model NFL franchise, he is very passionate about his beliefs. So passionate that a small vein bulges out of his forehead in anger if one dares take exception to his views. It is because of this vitriol that I always attempt to keep the best peace.
When having a conversation with Dad I often strategically go over in my mind how I am going to say something. With any word in a sentence Dad can take it and go off on an angry tangent. For example, my wife was mentioning to him how I was attempting to break into the radio biz. She spoke of possible broadcasting opportunities arising at Twin Cities talk station AM 1500 KSTP.
The text of the conversation went something like this:
My Wife: Well, there may be opportunities for Brad at KSTP. As of the 1st of the year, Rush Limbaugh will be moved…..
Dad (interrupting): Oh, that @?!*/& Rush Limbaugh! This whole country is divided into red states and blue states because of him.
The context of that conversation was not intended to be about Rush. However, Dad chose to make it so.
I thought that since my Father lives in a state (California) that is 2,000 miles away, I would hope for any chats we have to be somewhat civil, maybe even loving. After all, since his divorce from Mom, my Dad has been living on the left coast for over 32 years now. My younger brother and I saw him only a handful of times in the first four years after his relocation. That would have put me at eight years old. I would not see him again until I was sixteen, literally half my life later! I would hope that he would cherish every moment of our time together, given the long separation. Instead, he has spent the better part of the last 20 years being consumed in things he finds divisive.
Gee, I had this silly notion that a Father would want to take an interest in his kid’s life, especially living so far away.
Instead, I get the joy of hearing things like:
This country is going to hell in a hand-basket.
The Republicans are a bunch of @?!*/& crooks.
Can you believe those gas prices?
The government is stealing my retirement.
But the coup de grace of absurdity has to be this statement uttered by my dear ol’ Dad in 2003:
I use to work with a guy whose brother was once in the CIA. Anyhow, this former CIA worker says the Bush administration could capture Osama Bin Laden anytime now but they want to wait until it's closer to the election.
He’ll swallow second-hand tripe from an unnamed source, especially if it’s what he wants to hear.
But when official IRS statistics indicate that the top 50% of the wealthiest US citizens pay over 96% of all income taxes?
Oh, that’s bull----!!!
Are you beginning to feel my pain?
By the way, President Bush did not have an easy victory in 2004. Why did he never show the country that he had captured Bin Laden? That way Bush wouldn’t have had to sweat out such a close election.
But, I digress.
Hey Dad. Don’t you want to know how my wife & I are doing?
How about my business life?
Our prospects for kids?
I guess I am merely another sounding board for your frustrations in life. I figured you would not want to waste another day since your near-fatal heart attack in September 2004.
I was certain that the days of petty arguments were long gone. I was sure that the fits of rage towards inane subjects would cease to exist.
As you proved last night, I was sadly mistaken.
When you called me, we started out with a cordial chat about family, weather, etc.
So far, so good.
Then the subject magically turned to quail hunting. Ah, I could see where this was going. VP Cheney accidentally shoots a lawyer and his approval rating goes up. Funny stuff.
But the next 10 minutes or so takes a mysterious turn for the worse. You asked how I liked the Super Bowl. Since it was yet another contest without my Minnesota Vikings, I was pretty indifferent as to who would win. But you went on to express your outrage over how the Pittsburgh Steelers were given an advantage thanks to poor officiating. I didn’t agree, and said as much. I had a vague suspicion this would send you into a rage. However, I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt. I figure your recent two-month excursion to Hawaii would have mellowed you out a little bit.
That proved to be too optimistic.
You started ranting and raving about the Seattle Seahawks getting screwed, sounding as if it were a crime on par with violating National Security. You also stated how nothing infuriates you more than poor officiating in a football game. I told you how I can’t get that worked up about it. It was at that time you reminded me of a Christmas at your home where I went ballistic over a Minnesota Vikings game --- EIGHT YEARS AGO! Sorry, Dad. I’ve moved on. I have been happily married for over five years now and I’ve realized a new perspective: SPORTS AREN’T WORTH GETTING THAT WORKED UP OVER! But if you want to justify your behavior by pointing out the shortcomings of others, be my guest.
Like a petulant ten year-old you proceeded to say “The Pittsburgh Steelers suck!” three times…..and then hung up on me.
Surely, that’s now how it happened. Your cell phone must have went dead; got a bad signal; something. But you certainly didn’t hang up on me because I dared disagree with you about an NFL football game, did you?
I attempted to call you back but got your voice mail. Again, I gave you the benefit of the doubt (which at this point ain’t easy) by saying “We must have been cut off so I’ll call you this weekend. I love you.”
Dad, we’ve never had a real personal, intimate discussion in my 36-plus years on this planet. But I have to ask one simple, succinct question: Why?
Why do you make mountains out of mole hills?
Why do you remember when I got mad at a football game but don’t recall my wedding anniversary?
Why can’t you be OK to “agree to disagree” about political issues?
Why, in 1984 while in town attending a Twins baseball game, did you not stop and see the two boys you hadn't seen in seven years?
About 17 months ago I had lost you for three minutes to a heart attack. Thankfully, you came back.
I’m still here, Dad.
I never went away.