Teenaged boy is sitting in his room listening to music blaring from the living room. Every so often he paces and texts in a ranting motion. Play Leonard Cohen here.
Are you listening to this? I mean, do you want to a) slit your wrists, b) poke your eardrum with a knitting needle, c) slit someone’s else’s wrists, or d) kill the person playing that FUCKING song AGAIN. Perhaps it’s e) ALL OF THE ABOVE.
I was okay when my father divorced my mother and they told me I was going to live with my father. He was the funner parent. Emphasis on WAS. My Mom? She’s some big pharma rep and travels a lot. That was what she told me. I don’t care. Travels too much to sell happy pills to doctors who don’t want to deal with their patients’ aches and pains. That’s what my Dad says. My Mom says my Dad is just mad because he flunked out of med school. They both laugh when they say this to one another. They’re teasing, they tell me. They have one of those healthy co-parenting relationships. That’s what my therapist tells me.
Right now I’m thinking my Dad is the one who needs to be in therapy. His new girlfriend just dumped him. They were together maybe a month. It couldn’t have been much longer than that because we only did the dinners here and not the field trips we usually do when he’s getting super-serious. You know, like “let’s go to a Broadway play!” or “let’s go to the opera!” or “let’s go to that new Chinese place on Springfield Avenue!” or “let’s explore Ironbound!” You know all the things we never do unless he’s trying to IMPRESS a woman by PIMPING OUT HIS SON. GET A DOG, DAD.
If I have to listen to Alexandra Leaving one more time. I mean, Leonard Cohen, fuck. My friend has Leonard Cohen on his itunes. And he plays ‘em when he thinks it’s time for everyone to leave. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I MEAN? It’s a downer. YOU ARE BRINGING EVERYONE IN THE HOUSE DOWN.
But it’s only me, so WHY WOULD YOU CARE?
My dad has played this song 121 times. 121 TIMES. And it’s really more because the first few times he played it I wasn’t counting because I said to myself, “oh, Dad is listening to shit. He MUST HAVE BEEN DUMPED.”
Have you listened to that song? First off. We’re atheist. So when Dad comes to his senses I am going to point out that he is fucking with my fragile adolescent belief system by telling me that the Lord is going to take someone away.
Second off. My dad went out with this woman a month. ONLY A MONTH. She hadn’t even slept over here yet. You know how it plays out in the movies when the teenaged son sees a sexy older lady coming out of the dad’s room with a towel? HA! That has NEVER happened. Never Sexy. Never coming out of the room with a towel. Those movies LIE. My Dad’s girlfriends are weird fucked up single mothers who reek of low self esteem. He’s the high school science teacher for fuck’s sake, he wears tweed on purpose. He plays up the whole seventies, I coulda been a professor thing. And that’s cool. Really. He can be cool.
He’s patient, blah blah blah. He’s supportive, blah, blah, blah. And these women, they line up at parent night at his desk when they don’t even have a kid in his class. Only single man in town, you’d think. Maybe he is, how the fuck would I know. Then he takes them on dates that makes me think he’s a playa. Like the zoo. He takes single women to the Central Park Zoo and buys them a lemon ice. Their little suburban panties are wet. So thoughtful, so romantic. They see him as a man who knows how to yearn. And at first, they love it. It’s all Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. They’re moon eyed on fucking moors. Even in fucking New Jersey.
But then. Something happens. And I have to tell ya, I don’t know what the fuck it is. But it’s something. These ladies see something soft in him, the underbelly of a kitten or something. And then they are gone. He just meets women, woos and weeps. Yup. I meant the alliteration. Fuck my English teacher. Women, woos, WEEPS.
DO NOT. NO, DAD. NOT AGAIN. Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me. FUCK ME. Here we go, the woman laying on a satin pillow. YOU DON’T HAVE A SATIN PILLOW. She never had her head on your pillow.
Is it normal to cry like this? The last time I cried like that I was a kid. We were down the shore. BD, Before divorce. The house my parents rented was all wood and two blocks from the beach. It smelled like grandmas and pee. But who cared? We rode our bikes to the beach—Dad would balance the beach ball between his handlebars. He never dropped it, not once. Sundays, we got crullers. You know, donuts, but better. And then there’s that one time he let me wait in the car like an adult. “Don’t leave the car no matter what,” he said. I read my comic book and felt pretty damn cool being on my own.
Then it was forever.
I watched out the window and saw people come and go. No Dad. I opened the car door and swung it closed again—don’t leave no matter what. I stared inside the donut store and didn’t see him. Where was he? I waited and waited. I thought I saw him cross the street. But where was he going? Away from me? Then I thought maybe he was kidnapped. How would I call the police? I didn’t have any money for ransom. I had no way to call Mom. A siren. I remember the sirens. So fucking loud. The ambulance drove right by the car, so close, it shook. Two police cars. That’s when I began to cry. I knew somewhere deep he was gone. This huge solid pit of darkness started in my gut and grew and grew. I cried and still that pit grew so big I couldn’t breathe. He was gone. My nose dripped all over everything. I wiped all my snot on the seat. He was alone and I was alone. I was sick. I thought about God and maybe I would believe. I was alone. That dark pit was so big. I remember hiding in the back seat, hoping the pit would swallow me up. I was so alone I wanted to die.
And then he opened the back door. Just like that. My Dad. “What’s the matter?” He had a pink box of crullers in his hand and a newspaper. “I had to go to three places to get the Ledger—the one with the comics, I know you like them.” I remember he said that, just like that. He didn’t say anything about my tears; he hugged me and kissed my head. And like that, that pit, at once so huge and dwarfing, it was gone.
And there it is. 122 times.
Could my Dad have a pit like that?
The boy bends over slowly, his arms clutching his gut. He stands slowly. He walks toward the door.
“Hey Dad?! I was thinking maybe donuts.”