Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Same old song...

I hear "same old song" and a couple things come to mind. The first is a song by Aerosmith titled Same Old Song and Dance. The second is the old saying, "It's just the same old song and dance."

My father used to say it to me all the time. Especially when I'd walk in the front door after midnight on a school night.

"Where you been all night boy?"

"Well, we were coming back from town and we had a flat tire."

"Yea, right. Just the same old song and dance with you isn't it? Get your ass to bed before I put the belt to it."

My old man was never one to really stand up to when I was a kid. In my later years I realized that if I didn't stand up to him, I'd never stand up to anyone. He was the strongest and meanest person I had ever known to that point of my life. When I did finally stand up to him I knew I could stand up to just about anyone.

It seemed like the only time he ever used the song and dance saying was when I was trying to explain things. I'm not sure if he tried to do that to see if I'd change my story or if he just didn't care what I was saying. Either way he had already passed judgment before I had even gotten home. He was good for that. He thought he knew all the tricks of the trade and that he had pulled all of them on his father. What he didn't realize was that I never had a reason to lie to him about most things. Not to say I was a perfectly honest kid, I lied about plenty of things, especially when it came to grades.

He was a stickler about math. He used to say, "Who the hell cares who won the Russian Revolution. You think you'll need that information when your 30 and working a job? You don't get your grades up in math and you'll be wishing you never even knew where you lived."

A lot of people thought my father was an mean old asshole. I thought he was a piece of shit for many years but in the end I realized he was the way he was because that's how he thought he had to be. He grew up in the colored and poor area of Kentucky. The house he grew up in was smaller than the typical studio apartment you might find in a city. There were four people living in that house too.

Then he was in the military and the strict lines of order were all around him there as well. He wasn't in todays military. He was in the military that could punch you in the face for not keeping up with the rest of the group. From the stories he'd wake me up in the middle of the night to tell; he had his fair shares of punches.

From his stories and the stories I've heard from other family members he definitely earned the punches that he got. He was a hell raiser and he never really stopped doing that. Even when he had to make shit up.

Now I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses for the way he was. You haven't even heard any of the stuff he really did. He was an asshole to a lot of people. There are a lot of people now that, if they were asked about him, would say he was an asshole but he had his good sides too. Most people try to even out their lives, he didn't really care what you thought. He knew what he had to do or wanted to do and he did it. He hurt a lot of people both physically and emotionally in the process. Part of me thinks that he thought those people were weak. That they couldn't handle it because they just weren't up to par. Or maybe he just didn't care about anyone unless it affected him. I can understand that point of view. It's been mine for a few years now.

No matter how anyone looks at the way their parents were, I still think that a person is who they are today because of their parents and themselves. Your parents can only put so much into you. At some point of your life you take over and start making your own informed decisions. They can tell you about the things that happened to them but you don't have to listen. You can listen to everything they say and turn out to be a clone. You could listen to only the parts that you want to and then use your own judgment and turn out to be who you are.

Sure, there are a lot of abusive families out there. It doesn't mean that every kid is going to turn out that way. It also doesn't condone the parent's actions for being abusive. I'm just saying that we are who we are and we make ourselves that way with or without the help.

My father passed away a few years back very close to this date. He was stubborn and an ass up to the very day that it happened. I know he regretted a lot of things in the last couple of years of his life. He looked back at the things he did and tried to fix some of them. Years of his behavior couldn't be fixed in that short of time. I think he realized that and that's why he choose not to say anything to anyone about his illness. If he recognized that it was there then he had already given up. In his mind only the weak gave up.

He didn't want anyone to know that he was weak.

I thought for many years that I was partially invincible. Then I spent a few days in the hospital and it scared the life almost fully out of me. I was trained mentally to think I wasn't weak and that nothing could happen. I remember coming out of that hospital and realizing that I wasn't as strong or resilient as I thought I was. It still effects me partially today. I'm not the man I was but I am a man different in many ways. I'm no longer the superman that would ride on the roofs of cars doing 30mph through parking lots or jump from roof to tree. I am the man now that will do as he wishes and if necessary I'll do what I have to. I feel much older than I am.

So I wonder every once in a while what he would think these days. I wonder if he would be proud of the way his son turned out. Then I decide that it doesn't really matter. I live the way I want to live and even though I would go to him for advice at times, I can usually hear what he'd say to my questions.


"Just the same old song and dance with you isn't it? What is it you really want to do?"

2 comments:

Angie T said...

Doorman, I think you should be a famous writer when you grow up.

Mike D, the doorguy said...

Angie, Do I have to grow up?