Journey through space to the Planet Fabulous, where the Ruler of the Universe will see you shortly.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Middle Of Nowhere

I think some time ago, I prophesied meeting my long-estranged father at his hospital bed, him wired to some machine and trying to absolve all his differences while I listened passively - but then I have watched too many episodes of Dallas. There's never the drama when you want it: the actual event was in Victoria bus depot. Though thankfully neither of us were drinking meths from a paper bag. For a change.

There's no real reason why my father and I haven't spoken for ten years. We just sort of drifted apart, stopped calling. I heard that I'd offended him so kept out of the way. I have to say I thought it was no great loss: his idea of the high life is driving a lorry very fast and eating curries too hot for the ceramic plates. And I like tofu and quite fancy owning a Morris Minor, thankyouverymuch. We've never seen eye-to-eye on anything really. Fashion, music, politics, humour - nothing clicked, and I spent most of my teenage life rebelling in my room. And by that I meant I spent three weeks wearing black and listening to Donna Summer records moderately loudly.

But.. ten years. I suppose I was curious to see what he was like these days - and to meet my newly acquired stepmother. Apparently he'd mellowed over time; in all fairness I've completely changed. Well, slightly changed. Well, I've grown a beard and switched from hair gel to wax, but that was a big day in our house. We opened the lambrini and everything.

But when we met, drama it was not. It was just... there. It just occurred. The gay within me (and lets face it, there's been a few of them over the years) wanted tears, recrimination and possible storming off. But no. We chatted about the weather. Curse you, television, for making me this way. You see, while my mother's remained hilariously young (she's downloading Ibiza anthems I haven't even heard of from allofmp3.com) my father's aged thirty years in the ten I haven't seen him. He's got two topics of conversation: food and how to cook it, and the holidays he has been on. And has now got that old-man thing of telling, in exquisite detail, tales of holidays you're never going to go on of where to buy your food, where's best to stand to get the bus and where does the cheapest nachos. And not content with telling me when he's pissed the night before, he trots them all out again the following afternoon for the matinee performance.

Although we did get the obligatory stories of my childhood for the benefit of my new stepmother. Her name's Stella, and I've never met anyone who enjoys being told what they think so much in my life. And she lapped up the tales of my childhood that were suddenly rosy - the worst of which was his rewriting of my coming out story, to make him this gallant champion of the gay cause. Was he fuck; I looked me up and down and said "You sure? Your voice is a bit deep..." and went off to get another can of beer, more or less leaving it at that.

And then he was gone again. I got an open invite to go up and see the step-family, though I really can't be fagged. I've half a mind to go, if only to see how nasty their sofa set is. And chance to rifle through Stella's wardrobe to see whether there's anything bar the seven pairs of nasty jogging bottoms she seems to have brought with her on her trip down.

Family, you can't choose. You're born into them, and have to make the best of what you're given. There's nothing keeping you together but a thin strand of genetics and circumstance, and I have nothing in common with my father. Why I should pursue this dream of idealised family life is a mystery to me. And I'm sure he feels the same. While we were at dinner, he was talking to my stepmother and summed it up thus:

"...he said to me 'Dad, when I grow up, I want to be shot into space' and I said 'Son, if I hadn't been pissed that night with your mother, you would have been'."

Closure? Hm. Not in this lifetime.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

A-motherfuckin'-MEN, kiddo.

Qenny said...

I've never understood why some people have this idea that we are obliged to try and get on with our family even if we have nothing in common with them. Bugger that. We're gays. We make our own pretend families. Good friends are worth so much more than rellies with whom we share no interests and few pleasant memories.

Owen Blacker said...

I completely understand where you're coming from. And you get to choose your pretended family ;o)

Though, as is often the case, your last line completely makes this post. We love you!

CyberPete said...

I've learned that you shouldn't start something you are not prepared to finish, that's why I would never again be in the same room as my brother.

An old friend of mine resurfaced and I agreed to meet her, now she keeps texting me and calling me and I am not sure I want to see her again. I should never have agreed to start anything.

matty said...

You know, I actually had a high drama moment with my father on his deathbed. It sucked. No violins -- and, worse yet, no back lighting. Still, I was glad to have the chance to get a few things off my back. He said he was sorry.

...At the funeral -- and, today, I still feel sad that I didn't try to reach out sooner.

I love your humor, but I'm glad you met with him. One day, I think you will be glad you did.

...or, maybe not. But, you gave it a shot. That is what really matters in life.

I've always pref. the family I made for myself than the one to which I was given.

...I'm glad you were not shot off into space.

Anonymous said...

We have so much in common (except you're much funnier) that it scares me. My mother practiced the rhythm tecnique with my drunken father as well; I was traumatised at the age of seven when I calculated how many months fell between my parent's wedding anniversary and my own birthday, only to realise that my father wasn't quite the wanker I thought.

He left Ireland in the late 80s, leaving us debt to remember him fondly. There was a period when he dated a woman with children, who used her influence to encourage his non-existent parental tendancies, with hilarious results that included a few forced typewritten letters, to which my mother forced my brother and I to respond. That all stopped in due course, until several years after I had finished at University. Having achieved some moderate sucess in my professional life, which appealed greatly to his vanity, he tried to make contact... sending a letter to my faculty instead of my home address; he'd somehow convinced himself that my mother was an obstacle to our not being closer. The content of that letter was reflective of all contact I've ever received from him; completely one-sided and concerned with his own needs. It was convenient for him to have a successful son, so he expected me to respond. Instead, I wrote him a considered and appropriate reply, and only regret not keeping a copy.

Whenever I speak with my friends (and there are several) who continue struggling to maintain a relationship with their selfish parent, prolonging their own misery, I suggest that they save themselves the wasted effort and do what I did, tell that parent to take a flying fuck.

(Btw, thanks for plucking my comment cherry; made my day)

mainja said...

relationships are so messy. especially with family because we mix in a hearty dose of feelings of obligation in there.

i feel like i have something to say here, but apparently i really don't, i guess just, good on ya, now it's done and out of the way.

Anonymous said...

Having lost my mother this year to a brain tumor, me and my dad (who like you had nothing in common) have become extremely close.

I never hated my dad, we just never connected and he knows I was always a mummies boy so her death has hit me pretty hard.

I think that at least you made the effort and tried man. You couldn't do much more than that so don't dwell on it...I don't think you really are that much.

Cheers spacecadet...lovin every word.

Vampire Librarian said...

What an awful thing for a father to say to a child. I don't blame you for not clamoring for weekly visits.

I'd stick with Mom and let Dad fade away.

Spike said...

What Qenny and Vamp said.

AndyT13 said...

Bypassing the agonizing pain that visit must have caused I have to say the shot into space quote is the funniest thing I've ever heard.
Truly. I wish my old dad had said that to me!