Who’s your daddy?

Knock knock. Who's there?

Knock knock. Who’s there? Oh, shit! Oh shit who?

My parents never divorced, though I sometimes wished they would.

We were not a close-knit clan, especially after I hit my teenage years. Mom and Dad didn’t seem to like each other much by then, and being an ungrateful little shit I found them an impediment to self-exploration, so I spent a lot of time away from home, either living in my head or completely out of it.

Some of my friends’ parents had split up, and their lives seemed very different from mine. Sometimes it was the dad who had left, and sometimes the mom, but no matter which player had left the game there was always a hole in the disciplinary line you could drive a Mack truck through. A one-parent household infested by teenagers can give you a few hints about how anarchy might play out in the real world.

And if mom or dad remarried? Sometimes that could get even wilder, because when conventional weapons failed the kid could always drop The Big One: “You’re not my [insert absent birth parent here]!” That would always throw a 20-megaton monkey wrench into the social order and open up a little maneuvering room, though it also left Ground Zero slightly radioactive for a good long while, if not forever.

Fast-forward a few years and it was my friends who were getting divorced, sometimes more than once. Heartbreak, vitriol and vengeance; wash, rinse and repeat. Families shattered and scattered to the four winds as I observed from a different perspective, but still a safe if not exactly comfortable distance.

Now here we are on the brink of a national breakup, and I think I’m finally starting to get a personal feel for the experience.

Dad seemed OK, an eat-your-spinach type and a bit of a geek, to be sure, plus a little too shameless about thumbing through your journal to see what you were really up to while you were pretending to be a good citizen.  Still, he was smart, and he tried to be cool, and sometimes he even succeeded.

But one day he’s gone and this other dude is sitting in his chair.

You have brothers and sisters, and some are saying how they’re glad Old Dad is gone and how New Dad is a real wild man, works in TV or real estate or something, and anyway he has a lot of money and we’re all gonna get some. And some others are saying, no, fuck this guy, he talks a line of shit but that’s all it is, and have you noticed he never really seems to go to an office or anything? Plus his kids are all dicks and his friends are all creeps, and we don’t like the way he looks at our littlest sister.

For sure he thinks he’s tough, tough enough to shove your brothers around, anyway, especially the adopted one. And you know one day soon he’s gonna have a go at you, too, and he looks soft, but he’s still pretty big and it’s been a long time since you got into a fight.

And as you look around the table, waiting for the deal to finally go down, that’s when you realize that some of your brothers and sisters are OK, some are assholes, and the rest don’t give a shit who Dad is or what he does as long as they don’t miss the next episode of “Game of Thrones.”



33 Responses to “Who’s your daddy?”

  1. JD Dallager Says:

    Monday AM allegory at its finest? Well done, PO’G!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thanks, JD. I woke up with it in my head and all I had to do was pour it into the keyboard as I poured coffee into my face.

    • Libby Says:

      I second that, JD.
      Patrick, after reading this, I am struck by sadness. I’ll sit with that for awhile.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      Somehow I think writing this was a little harder then you said. Real yeoman’s service! That last paragraph finishes the piece up nice and neat.

      You sure there isn’t a novel rattling around in your “little gray cells?”

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        True fact. If I ever have anything that seems worthwhile to say, whether in words or pictures, it almost always sneaks up on me and hollers in my ear: “WAKE UP!”

        I keep an iPad Mini next to the bed for this very reason. Used to be a pad and pen, but I found that sometime I couldn’t make sense of whatever I scribbled while still under the influence of extraterrestrial dictation.

        I should probably use a digital audio recorder instead. Much simpler, and I might learn a new language via Google Translate. Like, maybe, R’lyehian.

        No novels, though, please. And thank you. Herself is always on about one of those, but I don’t think anyone’s buying political-science fiction. Except at the ballot box, of course.

  2. Carl Duellman Says:

    i was just thinking along those lines this morning. bratty kid: ‘i wanna go live with dad now’.

  3. Carl Duellman Says:

    my other example i haven’t shared with anyone: you’re hiring people to be on your cycling team. you’ve got lance armstrong who’s a doper and a cheater and a dick and no one likes him but he can sure ride a bike. or you could hire trump who may have ridden a bike once.

  4. Dale Says:

    Whoa Patrick. I see some serious reflection here. Old sores not quite healed. We all have those, some your fault, and some not. But you never forget them, do you?

    I have my own stories and most center around my father. He wasn’t a bad guy, but we clashed on nearly everything. I reconciled with him after I was married. I ended up giving him haircuts and shaves when he was in the process of leaving this planet, and I was glad to do it.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Family: The reason psychiatrists and lawyers drive better cars than you.

      Yeah, sometimes it’s interesting to pick the scabs. Dad was born in 1918, Mom in ’24, and I came along in ’54. Worlds apart? Try universes. We were barely the same species.

      They both died too young for anything like a rapprochement. I wasn’t done fucking up yet and I expect they were tired of watching. For my part, I was likewise weary of them griping about how I employed the creative impulses they helped me develop. Nobody likes a backseat driver, even if the vehicle is headed off a cliff.

  5. Dale Says:

    We are never done fucking up Patrick.

  6. Dale Says:

    I should have said “Patrick, we are never done fucking up”.

  7. Larry T Says:

    Some of our brothers and sisters wanted to “shake things up” but when you look at the numbers here, things didn’t look so bad, especially when you consider where we were when the Socialist-Muslim inherited the mess left by the previous regime.
    Things will be shaken up for sure, but when it all settles I think those folks will be pretty much right back where they are now. Whose fault will it be then?
    I can’t read any more analysis of the Drumpf voters – I’ve yet to read a single reason for voting for the greasy orange turd that makes any sense at all.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’ve been following politics a good long while, and I’m starting to feel like an anthropologist whose study involves giving a monkey a TV, tuned to cable news, and a baseball bat.

      After a while the monkey beats the shit out of the TV and the researcher gives him a new one. Eventually he needs a new bat, too. The study continues until the monkey gets a late-night TV talk show. Then the researcher needs a new monkey.

      The study is funded by grants from the electronics, sporting-goods and pet industries.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        Your button for SPLC reminded me I was past due on my contributions. They started when W gave everyone what I called the “Defective President Rebate” of $300 each back-in-the-day. I didn’t need the dough and thought about who might, especially with folks like Ashcroft and Gonzalez in important positions. SPLC was one of the organizations along with ACLU, BikesNotBombs, OXFAM and a few others. Thanks for the reminder!

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Glad to be of assistance, Larry. After adding the buttons I also croaked my Facebook account, based on their inability and/or unwillingness to control the proliferation of fake news pumped out on their platform. I recommend that fans of the Dogs(h)ite and actual news do likewise.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        Dunno ’bout that one – where do you draw the line? Twitter lets lots of morons spew lies and hate while pretty much all the mainstream media (NPR, NYT and PBS included) did little to debunk Drumpf’s misinformation campaign – before the pendulum swung back the other way as the alarm bells went off. I want to move to ITALY, not a deserted island.

  8. psobrien Says:

    My more visceral reaction was that he is soft. Sits around all day and eats junk food. Got his good testosterone numbers the same way Floyd got his. How to beat him, you ask? Do a Rocky body number on him.

  9. veloben Says:

    I wanna stay at Uncle Joe’s house.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I think a lot of folks do.

    • Dale Says:

      I understand Biden’s reasons for not running, but I sure wish he had. Perhaps the outcome would be the same (I doubt it), but if pressed, he could have cussed Trump until a fly wouldn’t land on him.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      Maybe Joe could have pulled it off. But the hatred for the status quo is really strong. Just had a guy over doing some work on our patio door, and he said he voted for Trump only because he wasn’t a politician.
      By the way, the re-election rates for Congress in 2016 were House 97% and Senate 90%. Would have been higher if not for retirements. And the people that voted for trump expect change? Yea, if I coulda, woulda, shoulda. If a frog had a glass ass, it would only jump once.

      • Dale Says:

        Some people (Democrats recently) don’t get it that you have to work at the city council, school board, sheriff, county admin, and what ever other local elected offices there are before you can influence the agenda in the state. Once a party has the state, it can influence the US senate and congress.

        Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan (hack, hack, cough, cough) figured this out pretty well. By then and after, there was a pool of neo-cons to enable the cause with some intellectual backdrop.

        Remember Will Rogers:

        I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Speaking of all politics being local, and all disorganized politics being Democratic, Charlie Pierce reminds us of something that’s been on the GOP wish list for many a moon now: They’re just one state legislature shy of the number required under Article V of the Constitution to call a constitutional convention.

  10. khal spencer Says:

    One of these days you and I have to trade stories about the devils in our heads. But not right now.

  11. Hurben Says:

    Wow this pushed buttons.

    I loved my Dad but he always made me feel like I was a disappointment to him, until I returned from my first combat tour & then every time that he picked me up from the base for a weekend pass I’d have to endure being shown off to his workmates at the local pub.

    He apparently had a hell of a life, running away from school & lying about his age to enlist in the military for WW2, spent time in North Africa & Italy.

    Sadly, my relationship with my mother was no better, several years after his death & I’d moved to NZ, I contacted her saying that I knew next to nothing about my history & could she please give me a memory dump.

    The response was a short letter, (like in a paragraph ), which said, I was born here, your father was born there, we married here, you were born there. end of letter.

    She’s also died.

  12. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Obama’s exit song.

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