My Old Man Left So Long Ago That I Can’t Even Remember His Face
Throughout my school years, I grew up lonely without any friends. I found it so hard to connect with others who woke up everyday in a full and happy home. I woke up in the middle of a mobile home park, with a broken family.
I didn’t have to live there long though. I lost my mom in a car accident. When my old man left, it drove her to drink. Now the drink drove her to the Old Park Cemetery.
Things are better now that I live with my Grandma in the suburbs. They got even better when I hit puberty and BAM! Suddenly, I was bigger and taller than everybody else.
I dominated every sport I tried but couldn’t afford the equipment or clothing to continue to be a part of any team.
This left me feeling held back and unaccomplished.
This festered inside and came out as anger and meanness towards others.
My frustrations started to show in the form of my grades. I turn to my new physical nature to get others to... ahem, "help," me with my homework.
It works. Grades start moving up and it gets all of my teachers off of my back.
For the first time, I have some positive momentum. I now know what it feels like to have that, 'I can do anything,' and, 'I can be whatever I want to be,' mindset.
Up until this point, I felt that life was happening TO me. Like I was a passenger and that life was drunk behind the wheel. Now, for the first time in my life, I felt an intoxicating sense of control.
Which means I start getting a little bit more ambitious.
All I wanted to do was to make something of myself.
Not being satisfied with just better grades, I move on to more... entrepreneurial pursuits: bullying others for their lunch money. It didn't take me long to see that it was only chump change making my pockets heavy.
While waiting to use the public pay phone at Lou's Cafe, I overhear a conversation nearby at a booth. A couple of well-dressed men, swapping stories and sipping on their malts. I lean in a little closer and they're talking about how much money they made. All from the sports bets they placed over the last few weeks. It hits me like a bolt of lightning how I can line my pockets with paper instead of metals. I walked over and got the names and phone numbers of the bookies they used. Thank goodness for my size as I'm sure they had no idea I was still in high school.
I start betting on the local teams. I win some and lose some.
It's the losses that send me into an internal rage that amplifies memories of everything that has gone wrong in my past. I soon learn that the rage focuses me. It reminds me to use my talents.
I made sure I never lost again. I intimidated local players and got the games fixed.
When I had enough to get a car, I chose the same car my absent father had, a 1946 Ford Coupe convertible. I restored that car to an even better shape than when it rolled out of Detroit. I treasured every moment in it.
My newfound popularity even made me some friends who also shared my rebellious attitude.
Now all that’s missing for me… is the girl. I’ve got my eyes set on Lorraine Baines. She’s my girl. She just doesn’t know it yet.
Through all this, I’ve kept a personal mantra. It was the last words spoken to me by my father before he left.
It’s the only real connection I have with him and I share it with others every day.
Those words were, “What are you looking at, butthead?”