September 11 was my dad’s birthday and, though he died back in 2005 and I rarely remembered to send him anything on his birthday when he was alive, I’ve taken to posting something “to” him on 9/11 over the years on Facebook. It’s one of the few ways I keep in touch with my father – the two of us weren’t especially close – and also gives me a chance to steal back a teeny bit of his birthday from both the high-jackers (if I don’t post, the terrorists win!) and hyper-patriotic 9/11 memorialists. So, now I have this blog, I’m doing it here:
|This is way back when my Dad was still getting his comeuppance. You’re welcome, Dad.|
Frst, per tradition, a sports update: the NFL has taken to kowtowing to our klepto-fascist former reality TV star president, who succeeded the highly competent (if somewhat painfully centrist) first black president in office because racism is apparently a very sensitive emotional faculty and the racists had the biggest electoral hissy fit ever, by punishing players for protesting the inhumane treatment of minorities by police in the United States during the playing of the national anthem at football games. And, in case they don’t do political news in the hereafter, that’s the one of the least offensive things that’s going on right now.
Anyhow, the Steelers did their typical “this whole thing is a non-event / show of team unity” thing vis-à-vis the players protesting police brutality, which is to say avoiding any semblance of protest, which, when coupled with their recidivist alleged-and-not-exonerated white frat boy rapist-boor of a quarterback, makes them one of the least interesting teams in the NFL in many ways (so of course they are one of the league’s most successful franchises).
The Pirates continue to flirt frustratingly with mediocrity. I know you weren’t a fan, gave up baseball when the Dodgers left Brooklyn, have better things to do with your death than talk Pirates, plus wouldn’t care anyhow, but I get a kick out of parading the details of their irrelevancy before you — perhaps for that very reason. As a son/person, I can sometimes be kind of a dick. You will no doubt remember this from your experience with me from grades pre-K through 12, give or take. Because of this, I follow the Bucs zealously. I know the advanced statistics of their minor league players. I am taking my spite to new, dorky, and analytically nuanced levels.
Serena Williams was just portrayed as a mammy caricature in a cartoon for throwing a minor tennis fit that would have gone completely unnoticed if Jimmie Connors, John McEnroe, Roger Federer, or any other male player had done it. Unless maybe the hypothetical male tennis player was black, in which case the ref probably would have just shot him, then been exonerated for acting in self-defense despite the literally millions of eye-witnesses. Then the USTA would have fined players who protested this type of treatment.
The Penguins – well they still play hockey, which sort of makes them the social/moral equivalent of that uncle everyone says was “always just different” to explain his sometimes erratic, bizarre, and occasionally criminal conduct. Like, maybe the NHL keeps things in its shed that the kids shouldn’t see? But the Pens are playing about as well as anyone in hockey over the past few years. I think you’d be getting a kick out of the franchise’s rebirth and resurgence with Mario Lemiuex at the head of the operation. I’m not sure you’d love the financing of the new arena with the aid of gambling concessions and the coal industry, but dead beggars can’t be choosers? Or maybe you can? Fill me in, I’m DYING to know how it all works! (Dad joke).
Ok, enough sports talk, I want to focus on all the other things we used to communicate about … so … umm … back to sports? Haha. More dad jokes. Did I mention I have those for days? Yup.
This year on your birthday I’m struck more than anything by the fact that your family, me included, have had so many life experiences you never shared. You never lost your partner, but mom, Susan and I all have; you never had grandkids, but mom’s got two of them now. Speaking of those grandkids, man, would you enjoy seeing them. Not because you’d love having grandkids (though I think you would), but because of the MASSIVE comeuppance they’re giving to your truly. I believe you would savor that like you used to do liver and onions (which is objectively gross, thanks for exposing me to that at a tender age).
Freddy has all of my reverence for authority and a little more wit, and I am learning how little fun a parent can have with those traits. He also loves heavy metal music, a haunting from my childhood I can feel rattling both of our bones – mine literally and yours by the transitive properties of karma — in the morning when I go to get my coffee and he’s already blaring it.
Benny can’t stay in bed at night. He pops up in my doorway like the Whack-a-Mole. I remember slinking into your bedroom doorway and being groused back to my bed, yet I still chase him away at least as often as I find the patience to go the long way round to sleep with him – meditation, breathing, visualizing calming things. And his can’t-do attitude about things around the house recapitulates my own in ways heretofore thought impossible.
But you’d like Benny a lot. It’s hard not to like Benny. You’d get a kick out of listening to Benny tell you stories. He makes them up all the time, sometimes extemporaneously—in fact those are often the best ones. He grabs fits and snatches of cartoons he’s watched, books he’s read, video games he’s played, and mammals he adores, and crafts some kind of completely off the wall narrative.
His brother composes his own songs on the electric guitar, draws animated likenesses of his family members, cooks for himself, and can make a craft out of just about anything. He’s a visionary, like his mom, a creator. It more than makes up for the bad traits he borrowed from us. He’s got natural charisma, something he didn’t get from either of us genetically and I couldn’t teach him if I tried. Sui generis. The kids aren’t my only reason for living, far from it, but they’d be enough if they had to be. They’re pretty amazing little dudes. Or, at least, they’re mine, which amounts to the same thing.
The rest of it is mostly boilerplate. Matt moved to Greensboro, which is awesome. Mom, Jennie, and Susan all visit, send treats for the kids, and keep me propped up as-needed. Everyone is damaged, everyone is surviving, mostly we’re doing ok. Except the climate and our system of democratically elected self-governance. Those are totally irrevocably fucked. But happy birthday, anyhow, Dad.