Guest Blogger – The Devil’s in the DNA: Chapter Two – Shit in One Hand, Want in the Other
What we are examining here is the effects of one’s own DNA profile along with the myriad of “nurture” factors that come into play. I am trying to bring new life into the world and all I can focus on is my own childhood and the anxiety of being a parent much like mine own. I say “mine own” here because this section is about my father who is from east Texas and they have a very specific accent as well as vernacular. You’ll get used to it. Let’s begin to point out my father’s crazy bits. Again, I put the spotlight on these bits for the selfish purpose of being able to make excuses later and having blog-tastic documentation to attest to the fact that I have very good reasons for being so inept and sorry-assed. “Sorry-assed” is another father word – from here on out I’ll mark them with a * just so you will know I’m not completely weird and add definitions at the bottom of the post if needed. Some of my father’s favorite sayings I will mark with a ^ so you will get the flavor of the old coot. This is a long one, so grab a cup ‘o joe and settle in.
My father doesn’t tell me much about his childhood. Only recently has he begun to tell me a few things. Not as entertaining as my mother’s, but what my dad lacks in background information, he more than makes up for in booze addled tales of aberrant misconduct. I’ll just start out with the History Channel version. My father was born the third child to a homemaker of Dutch descent, and a bus driver father of Irish and Native American descent. Two older brothers; one became a doctor, the other a lawyer, and one baby sister; who became an angel. Paternal side potato farmers from Ireland who liked banging hot redskins; maternal side coal miners from Holland who liked to die of black lung. Apparently my father’s father was a real prick. Never met the man. Hear some things though. Racist. Misogynistic. Bigoted. You name it. He was also a big-time drinker and gambler. A story about him that I had only heard a few years ago was that there was a monthly poker game held in a seedy hotel that even seedier fellows would attend. They would drink, gamble, and fight all night. One night, my dear old grandpappy must have done a very bad thing because someone tried to gut him with a knife. My father said that when he asked his dad about the scars his father told him “Injuns” had attacked him. My father found out years after his dad passed away that this was a crock of shit*. To further highlight the ferocity of the male line, my father’s grandfather was nicknamed “Hard” because he was such an ass. Apparently his wife was a raging bitch too. One night Hard shot and killed a man in Ft. Worth during a dispute of some kind. He fled to Oklahoma until the coast was clear. Golly I hope we have a boy!!
My father’s mother, in my opinion, was the most awesome woman in the world. When I asked my dad what he thought about his mother his bland reply was, “Never heard her complain.” Awesome insight, daddy dear. I know they were pretty poor. They had a milk cow named Bessie of all fucking things (I have the bank loan papers to prove it!) They had some chickens for eggs and fried giblets, and a small garden for veggies. They would can food for the winter months and my father’s mother made all of the family’s clothing. My father had to put newspaper in his shoes (which were passed down by his brothers) to cover the holes and keep out the snow. All of the children worked odd jobs to make money. It was a hard, yet simple life. My father used to hop the train and ride it to Terrell to work in the drugstore there as a soda jerk. Before you start picturing my father as freakin’ George Bailey or something, read on.
I don’t have many tales of my father as he grew up. My father did tell me of how when he was a teenager he and his pals would pool their money together and head over to…to…well, they called it… “N-town.” I refuse to write it out. Makes me cringe. Anyway, there were some brothers in the hood who would buy liquor for white boys for a cut of the proceeds. My dad said they always got cherry brandy. Every time. My skinny-ass* cracker father would sometimes get brave and ask if they could have something different instead. Every time he would get a hard stare and an answer along the lines of “Boy, you lucky I don’t break your cracker ass head with this mother fucking bottle. Drink the shit, you little bitch.” Then they would go running off sipping their cherry brandy looking for trouble and young women with daddy issues.
After high school my father joined the Air Force and was shipped off to NORduhKOduh*. One weekend during a whiteout blizzard my father and some of his buddies drove a car right past the guards at the gate, keeping the door open to watch the stripes on the road, and drove all the way into town. From here they called their Captain and gave him a line about having been in town on weekend passes and now they were stranded and that they might be late for check in. The Captain told them to stay in town and stay safe. They boozed it up, gambled and partied with hookers for three days. After his stint in the Air Force my father attended law school. He worked full-time. He took uppers for breakfast and lunch, booze and downers at night. Then he married my mom. Then they had me. Poor daddy-o. No more shenanigans for you. Riiiiiiiiight.
My father is a charismatic son of a bitch. After my arrival my father lived in constant fear that I, as a small child, might ruin the party and legacy of his charisma. My father loves a party and is the life of the party. “No one likes kids,” my father would always tell me as we prepped for a party or a night out to the country club. “As a matter of fact, people hate kids. Do you know why? Because they remind them of why they shouldn’t have had kids in the first place!” Made a kind of sense when I was a wee lass. So in an attempt to nullify the catastrophic effect I would have on adults my dad always taught me a joke. He choreographed it. Staged it. Implanted inflection and timing. Many of the jokes were the “johnnyfuckherfaster” jokes of the 70’s. There really is nothing funnier than a child a little tipsy from finishing off her dad’s cocktails telling a johnnyfuckerfaster joke.
Punch line: “Johnny Fuckherfaster!!!!! I’m trying, I’m TRYING!”
My father would work, prime, and adjust my timing until I was perfect. Any kiddo in elementary school should be able to present age-inappropriate jokes with perfect aplomb. And I did. To uproarious applause, hugs and kisses and praise. Just the thing to reinforce a child. I still remember receiving this compliment from the host of one party, “If we could have been guaranteed a child like you, we would have had actually wanted children.” At the time I thought “WaaHoo!! I know how to make people love me!” Uber-personality formation from this point on for me, as well as how I related to – and STILL relate to – my father. From me making daddy cocktails when he got home from work (so he would love me more than mommy, duh!) to being a cocktail waitress at his poker parties. My instructions were thus: “Start off strong on the drinks until they start betting stupid, then water down the drinks to save on booze and keep them from passing out, then back to strong when they start winning again.” Glorious!! I made a lot of money. But more on that later…
Once at a party in the late 70’s, my dad and his buddies were sitting around at the house getting drunk and high watching “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” Ever seen it? Try being a little one and watching it through a crack in the door. Fucking trippy, dude. And scary as hell! The movie is over so I sneak back to my room and into bed. I hear a scratching on the screen of my window. Scratch, thump, rustle, rustle, tap, tap, tap. Jesus Titty Fucking Christ what the hell is that!?!? What’s a child to do? Well, I certainly cannot interrupt the party with my childish fears. That would make daddy most angry. So I did what any young child reared in Texas would do. I went to my dad’s drawer and pulled his Colt .45 out of its case. Only thing was this bitch didn’t have a lever like my B.B. gun so that I could cock it. Fuckstockings!! Think, Dvine, THINK! Oh well, I bet the boys won’t mind me simply asking a quick favor and moving on. Besides, daddy will be happy I am taking initiative in protecting myself!!! We have a winner! So in my little pink floor-length nighty with the pretty lace on the bottom I walk on my tippy toes into the party room whacking the butt of the locked and loaded .45 as I waft across the room like so much pig-tailed, toe-headed death. “How do you cock this thing?” I ask to a room of quiet and suddenly VERY sober partygoers. My father, all hint of Native American draining from his face and being rapidly replaced by a lovely Irish pallor asked, “Why do you ask?” I throw my hands on my hips so as to display my wile and cunning and to also let them all know they are hopeless noobs when it comes to weaponry, “Because, daddy! There is a bad man outside my window who is bothering me and I need to go shoot him!” I didn’t want to say that it was possible that an alien David Bowie was most likely at my window and he wanted me to share in his disgusting mating rituals and eyeball replacing. That would just be a silly girl thing to say. At that moment, the Episcopal priest who had provided the pot for the party that he had procured by using an exacto knife to hollow out his bible on a recent missionary trip to Mexico came into the room. “Does anybody know?!” I was really getting exasperated by this point as I was pretty tired and getting bitchy. “Give daddy the gun, Sweety. Daddy will fix it.” I tromped unceremoniously across the room pissed that he hadn’t just TOLD me how to do it, and had thereby ruined by gansta cred with his posse and slammed the gun into his outstretched hand. My dad cocked an eyebrow toward the now sweating and nearly flagellating priest. “Scott, were you by any chance outside my daughter’s window just now?” A collective “SNAP!!” was heard as all partygoers in the room wheeled their heads and glared at the diminutive figure in the holy collar that was practically pissing himself as he stood in the door. “You only have one bathroom.” He began, “And I really needed to pee, so I decided to go outside around the corner of the house. I saw her come into her bedroom and thought it would be funny to scare her a little. Did I scare you, Sweetheart?” The room shifting their attention to the alien killing badass at the other end produced a whoosh of wind. “You’re stupid.” I said, and flicked my pigtails at him as I headed back to my room. I heard the din of laughter long after I drifted off to sleep.
My parents divorced in 1982. They took me out to the front porch swing and gently broke the news. I sat there for a moment thinking. Then I said, “Who gets the VCR? I want to go live with whoever gets the VCR. And I don’t want to live in Lubbock. Lubbock is gross.” My parents were thrilled! What a strong little girl they had created!! Um hmm, because that is SUCH a normal response from an 11 year old when she is told her parents are divorcing. Honyocks*. My mother took everything but the bed. My father didn’t have a pot to piss in, nor a window to throw it out of ^. My father LOVED it! He pulled his poker table up from the basement, borrowed foldout chairs from the club and that was the only furniture he had. He was grinin’ like a jackass in a briar patch ^. He ate pie for breakfast, pizza for lunch, and as much booze as his heart desired for dinner. He held party after party. Some nights the partygoers would drag his mattress out onto the front lawn and would launch their drunk-asses* off of the porch swing, spinning and flipping like school kids. I had never seen my father so happy. Sure he would take drunk* and forget to come meet us at our designated pick-up place for my weekends with him. Sure he would be so hung-over he would sleep until 2 or 3 and forget to bring me back. Sure he drove me blinding drunk with a roadie between his legs all around the Panhandle. It didn’t matter. He was happy. A little girl wants her daddy happy.
When I was around 13 my father remarried. She came from a very wealthy family and my father had always dreamed of coming from, or even being around money. They got a big, new house and wallpapered the fuck out of it. She had two children from a previous marriage. I finally had siblings! They were small and sweet. Her family was very nice. I liked them all a lot. My father still went to parties, but now he went to parties where there was caviar and single malt scotches. No johnnyfuckherfaster jokes there. I was at a loss, but he was still the life of the party. He always is. We had a good run for about two years.
Then I hit major puberty. It. Was. On.
My relationship with my father likta* snapped like a hangman’s noose. I started wearing makeup and punk clothes. I started drinking and smoking and fucking. My dad likes to tell a story of how overnight I changed into this demon child. The way he tells it he comes rolling up with the new family in tow to pick me up for our weekend together, “And there she was!! My derlin’* daughter. Black lipstick. Hair all fucked up. Combat boots, ripped jeans and safety pins stickin’ out of her head!!!” I never wore safety pins that stuck “on” my head…everywhere else, yes, but not “on my head”. My father likes a good story so I let him tell it and I nod and smile and shrug. I was in a car accident the summer after I turned 16. Fucked me up pretty good. I was in the hospital for a week mending a cracked hip and a head injury. I was doped to the hilt!! I always had friends there. Lines and lines of them. It was so awesome! One night, a guy friend of mine was in the room (try telling a bunch of punk and burner teenagers that visiting hours are over and see what you get) keeping vigil over me and I started to hallucinate from all of the painkillers and crap they were pumping into me. I started flaying my arms to stave off the evil leprechaun attack that was being launched upon me. My friend crawled onto my hospital bed to pin my arms down so that I wouldn’t pull out my IVs. Just then, a nurse walks in. “Miss Dvine!! We do NOT allow such things in this hospital!!” Long story short she calls my father and tells him that I’m shagging a boy in my room and that he had better come and get his daughter under control. My father made the hour and a half drive in just over 30 minutes. What resulted was a tirade of biblical proportions. Never before and never again in my life have I been called so many things. Never in my life have I been so utterly crushed, my heart broken so irreparably. My mother had to give me a paper bag to breathe into because I was sobbing so hard. My mother never stuck up for me. She always hated that my dad and I had a bond that she and I didn’t. All was well in her world. He didn’t speak to me for months. Months, and months, and months. Then, it was as if it never happened. If you ask my father about it now, he’ll tell you he and his wife had a chuckle at how absurd they thought that nurse was to presume a girl with a broken hip would be having sex. How droll, indeed.
Another thing you can ask my father is what it was like to be my pater unit* during my voyage to womanhood. He would say, “SheeeeeeIT*. Till she was about five I thought that she was a RE-tard. Hell, I liked her okay until she was about twelve. Thirteen to twenty-seven she was a fucking asshole.” He tells this to everyone. Including me. In his defense, I WAS a fucking asshole. But the years are wrong. Fifteen to twenty-nine is more like it. So, after that defining moment of “The Hospital Incident” my father continues to tell me exactly how he feels about any given thing without a modicum of decorum or sugar-coating for the ego, and I continue to not tell him much of anything that really matters. But, like any child will do, I keep trying. For instance, telling him about us trying to have a baby. Like any emotionally distant father-daughter relationship, we keep our chats mostly to emails. I still have not told my mother (I’ll get to that in a later post), but for whatever reason I decided to tell my father about our infertility problems. Since I deleted the actual email in a fit of rage I’ll just have to summarize. He thought it was a stupid idea and that if he and my mother had had to pay that amount I would have never existed. He threw in some stuff about how children ruin your ability to have fun, reminded me that I would have to stop smoking and drinking, and suggested my husband and I spend the money on travel instead. It took me a good hour to respond to his email. Took me that long because I edited out all of the things I wanted to say and instead said something along the lines of “Oh, jaded daddy-o. Was fatherhood that soul-killing for you?” He then sent me a reply stating that he was not jaded and that if I thought I was getting out of hashing through this subject over cocktails I was sorely mistaken. Oh goodie.
I think what I’ll do instead is wait until I have been jacked up on hormones and THEN go hash it out with him.
Now, after all of that…my issue. I know, WHICH issue, right? Stay with me, people. I am. My Father’s. Daughter. I am a walking, talking, breathing, shitting, fucking version of him in almost every negative way. I did get a lot of good things from him too, but those aren’t the ones I’m worried about when it comes to being a mother some day. My father isn’t my parent. He’s my fucking frat buddy. That man has told me things that he has done that NO child should EVER know about their father. And don’t worry…I will post some of his best. Focus up, people. I don’t want to be my child’s buddy; I want to be their parent!! I really don’t know if I am strong enough to fight the nature and nurture that has crafted me into the train wreck that I am today. Holy Hell.
This blog was written by the oh so talented Miss Emily.
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