How in the heck are ya, pops? It’s been awhile since we spoke together. Matter of fact, it’s been awhile since we’ve seen each other. What has it been, 10 years? No big deal, pops. I understand that you’re a busy man. I know you’re out there doing great things.
Can I pinpoint you on a globe? Maybe. Possibly in the middle of Ecuador would be my best guess. Family has told me you’re up to no good, as usual. God, it’s awesome how much of an adventurer you can be!
Not too long ago, I saw a Facebook video with thousands of views, and you were in it! Can you believe it, pops? You’re famous!
To recall your jagged memory (mommy told me your memory is bad because of alcohol), the video focused on your efforts to establish a firmer infrastructure within a diminishing community, emphasizing safety for the youth living in these slums. Rallying the residents to force communal change in the form of paved roads, a thorough clean-up project, and the installment of new lamp posts can improve community value greatly, as well as encourage inner cohesion. And you’re the one to do this? Now see, that’s a real stand-up guy if I’ve ever seen one!
And that’s where the facade fucking ends.
You see, the townspeople don’t know who you really are. Pops, even I don’t even fucking know who you are. But, I can take a guess.
Are you the lying type? I think so. Remember Christmas in 2005 when you promised me that new game console? I was so excited! Man, I haven’t seen you in about a year, and mommy let me stay the weekend at yours in Brooklyn for Christmas Eve. Once I got there, you said you would buy me a PlayStation Portable. You told me I “earned it” for being a good boy and getting Honor Roll. Every passing day, you hyped me up, telling me that the PSP and Smackdown vs. Raw 2005 will soon be mine. I was so ecstatic, you wouldn’t believe it! I bragged to my cousin, who was with me, about the inevitable awesomeness that would befall me soon. He said you were bluffing about the gift, and I told him no way. Not you, pops!
Christmas Day came, and you gave me a $20 bill instead.
“I can’t afford that shit, kid. Be grateful I even gave you something at all.”
My cousin couldn’t stop laughing. Haha, good one, pops. Serves me right for not being humble.
Did you have money? Nope. No matter, as I was never materialistic anyways, pops. I never had the chance to develop that characteristic (thank you for that), because your decisions in my early childhood plunged me and mommy into an isolated poverty so daunting and horrifying, the homeless shelter was in the realm of possibility for us. The child support checks stopped coming in a laughably short amount of time that they started clearing. You stopped coming into contact with us, because it costs money to raise a family. You weren’t ready for responsibility, pops, and that’s okay. Purging yourself from us was presumptuously your best shot at financial self-salvation. I applaud a brave man as yourself; it takes insurmountable courage to abandon your family, to leave them for dead.
But mommy wasn’t going to let that happen! She salvaged us from the hellish life of famine, using sheer wit and determination. She worked dead-end jobs for years, clocking nearly 70 hours a week to sustain us. A real-life Wonder Woman, mommy finessed the soltera lifestyle.
She’s my superhero, and you’re my worst fucking nightmare.
But I don’t think I quite have you figured out, pops. I can’t justify saying that about you without at least some sort of insight, so here goes:
Do you beat women? Certainly. Gruesome tales of your various drunken escapades, which ended in your verbal and physical abuse of mommy while I watched during my tender youth, naive to what was happening, were too much to listen to sometimes. Apparently, that was the primary reason she left you. I didn’t believe her. Not my pops! Why would you ever lay hands on such an amicable soul like mommy? It couldn’t be true, right pops?
“Mom, why did he hurt you? What did you do to him?” I asked her one day after she told me the time in 1999 when you came home at 4am and started flipping shit everywhere. You know, the final straw.
“I didn’t do anything. He was belligerent beyond belief. You and me were sleeping together on the couch that night, since your father didn’t like us sleeping on the bed with him. He told me he was going out to drink with his friends, and I told him to please stay home for once. He called me a fucking bitch and left.”
“What happened when he came home?”
“He went ballistic. Like a deranged primate, he banged on the door, barking for me to open it. He done lost his keys, the idiot. As soon as I unlocked the door, he barged in, pushing me to the ground. The smell of whiskey and Marlboros flooded the room instantly. I saw him stumble towards the fridge. I told him there was food on the table, and he ignored me. He pulled a beer out from the fridge, and went for the bottle opener. I snatched it before he could get it, as it wouldn’t do him any good to keep drinking, especially with you sleeping. He slapped me so hard, he almost knocked me out. He kept on calling me a whore, and I told him to go fuck himself. That wasn’t very wise of me.”
“Where was I, mommy?”
“Oh dear, I’m sorry you had to live through that, but you woke up as soon as your dad threw the damn beer at me. He missed, and it broke on the wall. Glass was all over the floor, and you almost stepped on it when you started towards me. I ran to grab you, and I locked us in the bedroom. I thought we were gonna die that night.”
“Mommy, why was pops so angry?”
“Sweetie, I wish I could tell you. I ended up calling the police while he was trying to tear the door down. I’m sure he heard me through the door talking to them, because when they arrived, he was gone. I was just glad you were safe, baby.”
“What happened to him?”
“He ran off to your aunt’s house, like he always does when he does this type of thing. But I couldn’t take it anymore. One day, he WILL snap, and I just decided that enough was enough. My biggest mistake was to keep on loving him, but my proudest moment was you, Brian. You made it all worth it.”
She told me this harrowing story after I came home from Brooklyn, two days after Christmas Day, in 2005. The sorrow that followed was unlike any other. Pops, how could you?
As I grew older, I started piecing it together: the beatings, the deceit, and the decrepit alcoholism? It was the machinations of a fucking pussy. Rage filled me for years. Self-resentment from lacking a father figure instigated a feeling of “not-good-enough” that haunted me for a very long time. I fantasized about beating the living shit out of you for what you did to my mother, and for all the trauma you’ve caused us. It would’ve been so fucking satisfying to do so, and my weapon of choice would’ve been a broken beer bottle. Dare I call it, poetic justice?
However, life goes on, and I got over it. What good does beating up an old man do for anyone? Instead, I got revenge the best way I know how: be successful.
Your boy graduated a valedictorian from middle school, attended the most prestigious magnet high school in Newark, graduated from there too (I slacked off in my teen years, so I didn’t get top of the class again, shit happens), got accepted into Rutgers, joined the military, deployed to the Middle East, came back home and continued college, got a graceful job at a modest diner, and deployed again to Africa. All of it before 24, and there’s still much more to accomplish. And you know what, pops? I did it without an inch of your help. We may share blood, but we are not cut from the same cloth.
In the end, there’s no hate for you, because that would require me to process emotion towards a man of your conniving nature. It’s just blank for me, man. You may have unequivocally failed me in every which way, but the best lesson to come out of this is to avoid the grave mistakes you foolishly committed.
Maybe it’s too late for me, but it may not be too late for those kids in those poor cities you’re trying to improve. So keep at it, with your politicking and your cries for change. Don’t let them down the way you did me; that’s the very least I ask of you.
Oh, and by the way, happy Father’s Day, pops.
Sincerely, your bastard son