I will never forgive my mother and father for not being abusive alcoholics.
Mine was a childhood of relentless nurturing and encouragement. I was never forgotten or picked up late by my parents. I was never told I’d amount to nothing or that it was highly unfortunate that I had ever been born. Not once was I beaten, bashed or even shoved by my father. I never felt the sting of a belt or the burn of the lit end of a cigar or cigarette. My mother never came home drunk with a strange man and proceeded to have relations with him. My mother never even did so with my father.
She was too busy helping me with my homework. Or sticking my report card on our refrigerator door. Or cooking me wholesome dinners. Or packing my lunch. Or washing my little league uniform. Or telling me that whatever 13 year-old girl had broken my heart that week wasn’t good enough for me.
At the time, I didn’t mind having such an “ideal” upbringing. But oh how I now wish that my father could have been possessed by Johnny Walker and plagued by fits of displaced aggression back when I was a teenager. The fact that I was denied any sort of mistreatment growing up has greatly hindered my chances of becoming a brilliant poet or novelist.
Little did my father or I know that each time he played catch with me, took me fishing or read me a bedtime story, he was destroying my future. The fact that he was doing so unwittingly is no excuse. He was my father, and fathers need to make their sons tough and do whatever it takes to unleash their true potential. With my scrawny stature, whiny nature and inability to shut the hell up as a child, my father had to have known I was destined to be a writer. But he did little to help me achieve my destiny, and he will have to live with that for the rest of his life. And it will be a long life, since the old bastard has never abused alcohol, cigarettes or drugs.
Now, I’m not saying that mine was a childhood completely free of strife with my parents. For instance, I will never forget the time my mother would not buy me the top-of-the line $250 kevlar tennis racket I had my heart set on when I was 12, and instead made me settle for a mere $180 kevlar tennis racket. The resulting inner fury and rage I experienced, however, was too manageable and short-lived to have any lasting impact on my artistic creativity and ingenuity as an adult.
I experienced a slightly stronger spark when my mother and father refused to let me drive down with friends to Senior Week at the beach when I was a high school sophomore. That incident begat a bitterness and resentment that lasted weeks, and resulted in a rather inspired essay I wrote soon thereafter about how my parents, like, totally sucked. But the essay was never published. In fact, I tore it up after my dad bought himself a brand new red Camaro for his 50th birthday. I realized he needed to be pitied, not despised.
So, yes, I did suffer some emotional abuse and quite a few injustices at the hands of my parents during my adolescence, but, unfortunately, it was nowhere near enough to put me over the edge artistically. If I had the opportunity to relive my “tween” and teen years, I would exhibit a such a level of insubordinate and rebellious behavior that my parents would have no other choice but to knock me around and issue insults and threats that, with any luck, would provide me with the deep emotional scarring needed to produce multiple works of true literary merit.
If only my father had served in Nam and become physiologically dependent on opium. If only my mother had been frequently hit in the head so hard by my grandfather that it caused her to exhibit schizophrenic tendencies as an adult; then maybe, just maybe, you wouldn’t be reading the self-obsessed grievances of a writer you’ve never heard of, but rather a chapter from the critically acclaimed autobiography of an astonishingly innovative Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning man of letters.
Damn you, mom and dad. Damn you both to hell.