A+E

Fits of Fury

“Get the fuck out of my way you fucking idiot!” This is a daily expletive I use lung capacity for as naturally as breathing oxygen; at least a dozen times a day I scream obscentities at other drivers on the road, I honestly can’t help myself. It doesn’t make me feel better because I know they can’t hear me, and I know it doesn’t make them feel crappy because I too know they can’t hear me. It’s a vicious circle. So why do I do it?

I’ve decided to blame it on my father — that tends to makes me feel better. I inherited his irrational anger — plus his eyes and ears, but that’s beside the point. He had been a pretty good father growing up: On weekends he’d let me sit on his lap and steer his Scout along the dusty roads of the pimply west Texas desert, ocassionally sipping off his Coors Light can. We’d pull over, take out our bow-and-arrows, and hunt rattlesnakes and rabbits (I actually only hunted the stink bugs). But then his face would turn radish-red and he’d call me a dipshit when I’d do something clumsy, which I’m famous for, like shoot an arrow into a tire on the Scout … OK, that’s a bad example.

Actually, looking back on my youth and my relationship with my father, my bad decision-making probably caused his irrational anger: “Tommy, you are going to god damn college if I have to walk you to class every god damn day holding your hand.” Which I think, in hindsight, caused my own irrational anger. God dammit, that really chaps my hide!

It could be some sort of “rite of passage” when a man turns 40 to metamorphasize into his father. I recently noticed that I’ve picked up the habit of muting the television during commercials, just as my dad does, because commercials have suddenly started pissing me off. (We both still think TiVo is shoewear.) I also recently started golfing … seriously, I had never golfed a day in my life until I turned 40. I think my dad’s been doing it since he was about 40. You want to talk about a sport that is so frustrating that it could even cause irrational anger in a Buddhist monk? Just thinking about it makes my teeth hurt.

Arranged through some mental breakdown, I’m taking my father golfing on Father’s Day. I’m sure it’ll be an amusing … or frightening sight for all the other fathers and sons on the course. Two seemingly grown men cursing, slinging clubs down the fairway, wading through ponds to retrieve erratic golf balls, aggressively driving the golf cart until it tips over on a small hill or barrels into a sandtrap will certainly leave the other players in awe … good times to be had by all!

But for all my dad’s anger issues, including grounding me when I was 14 for wearing one of my mom’s skirts and pair of pumps, and subsequently punching a huge hole in a freshly painted wall after I came out to him, my dad does have a real soft side. It’s not shown often, but when it is, it’s amazing.

He’s a true pet lover, as am I, and over the many years and the many pets we’ve had as a family, his pure love for them has been astonishing. Years ago, when a pet would pass on, he’d take it out to the west Texas desert and give it a proper burial, and when he would come home the pain in his eyes was heart-wrenching. In more recent years, he’s started a sort of shrine in the basement of his home to lost pets now resting in beautifully constructed wood boxes and urns. Some may think that’s a little morbid … it moves me to tears.

My father is an introvert, as am I; we don’t converse well, and not with any real substance — we sort of just grunt at each other like cavemen. “Ung og mog!” means “go get me a beer.” I used to be OK with it, but now that I’m “well into my mid-life,” according to my mother … god love her, I feel I want more. And it’s not like we’ve never “shared a moment” — once, many years ago, over lunch, I had almost slipped out of my chair when he asked me how my then-live-in-boyfriend was doing, with much sincerity. Alas, that was a fleeting moment; one I wish I could get back and build upon.

So I’ve decided to make more of an effort, to talk with my father using words with actual syllables. Shit, he’s my father, right? He’s not perfect, I’m not perfect, but we do have much in common, so we should learn to use those commonalities to our advantage. I’m pumping myself up for our golf game on Father’s Day, to really bond with him, and even if it only turns out to be a day riddled with cursing the weather and flinging clubs down the fairway as if it’s an Olympic sport, swilling beer and making inappropriate remarks about the lady golfers (mostly just him) I will not blame my dad, I will embrace it for what it is. And if we’re lucky enough to talk openly about my need for boy-on-boy action, my love for all things male and possibly make inappropriate remarks about the male golfers, all the better … but I’m not crossing my fingers, at least not yet.

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