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Sunday, June 15, 2008

ANOTHER FATHER'S DAY

I hate Father’s Day. It’s the one day of the year when, no matter what else I may be doing, I’m reminded of my place in the father/son equation, namely that I don’t have one, as both a son and as a mate/father.

My relationship with my father was nothing I’d care to burden you readers with, but let it suffice to say there were issues and as a result of his absence from my life and the attention he paid to building his second family — and, to his credit, apparently making that work — I had no male role model to teach me how to be a man. That’s a process I find myself still muddling through on a day-to-day basis with varying degrees of success, and I genuinely wish I’d had a dad who’d taken a genuine interest in me during my adolescence, but such was not the case and I like think that considering the circumstances I didn’t do too badly. But here I am at the age of nearly forty-three with no mate and no offspring, and there’s a deep, dark, empty place in my existence that I struggle to ignore and carry on in spite of, but while I’m able to handle it most of the time the days leading up to and including Father’s Day kick me right in the heart. It was especially difficult this time around due to events in recent weeks that have caused me to consider where I am in life, why I’m so unhappy, and what I can do about it (I have no answers for that one yet, alas).

You see, I had been reluctant to write about it because this blog is supposed to mostly be about my media obsessions and stay somewhat light and entertaining, but almost three weeks ago I awoke late one night and checked myself into the local ER because I felt strange in an undefined way; not in pain per se, but I knew something wasn’t right and I needed to get checked out. I ended up stuck in the hospital for thirty-six hours, the first time I’d been in a hospital since the day I was born, and while it was determined that my blood sugar was spiking due to my meds needing an adjustment I was nonetheless terrified and spent much of my sleepless time thinking about how alone I was. As the parade of nurses took sample after sample of my blood and I endured both a stress test and echo cardiogram — despite all my bad behavior over the years, it turns out I have a strong heart, thank you very much — I kept mulling over the recent backyard cookout I’d attended in Long Island, an event that gathers as many as possible of my extended family of friends from far and wide and allows me to see my gaggle of non-blood nieces and nephews.

I’ve always had a way with kids and I love these children as if they were my own, so when I get a chance to spend time with them I relish it and sometimes when I play and interact with them I think of them as the children that, at the rate my life is going, I’ll never have. When I got out of the hospital I resolved to keep a much closer eye on my health issues, both for my own sake and so I can see these marvelous children grow into the equally marvelous adults I’m certain they’ll grow up to be.

Then this weekend rolled around and last night I attended a friend’s grad school graduation party and discovered that my niece Cleo was there. She’s an adorable, happy little four-year old girly girl who fills my heart with delight whenever I get to spend time with her, and last night she was running around in her Boston Red Sox cheerleader outfit — a far cry from her preferred fairy princess mode — , looking too cute for words. Seeing her made me well up with sadness over the lack of a family of my own, and I was actually relieved to leave early in an effort to avoid having to travel on foot during the torrential downpours that pounded the area (my friend lives six blocks and nearly four very long avenues away from the Vault, and I would have been soaked to the bone during the walk home). Upon arriving home I was able to set aside my familial yearnings by having a long phone conversation with my friend Lia (aka “Karate Hottie”).

But my longing for family was only compounded when I went to meet my two-week-old niece Aurora, the daughter of Tracey the Waitress Goddess and her husband, Brendan. I only met Tracey a little over three years ago and in that time she’s come to be more of a sister to me than my own blood sibling — no offense, Meredith, but our schedules haven’t allowed us to spend as much time together as I’d like — so the birth of her daughter means a great deal to me and I feel greatly honored to be considered family. Holding the tiny, wriggling infant filled me with emotion, and thankfully Tracey and Brendan were in a mood to chat and catch up while I marveled at the helpless little new person Tracey’d just brought into the world. The conversation helped distract me from my paternal emptiness, but when I returned to my flat I lay on my futon, staring up at the ceiling and contemplating a fatherhood that grows less and less likely with each passing day. I then sank into a depressed sleep, a slumber marked by an uncharacteristic absence of dreams. Now I'm awake and satisfying my fantasies of family by running some old Johnny Weissmuller movies and living vicariously through Tarzan, Jane, and Boy, a family unit I've taken comfort with since childhood, and one I know all too well could never be real. The magic of Hollywood, and all that...

Sorry for this downer of a post, but I had to get it out of my system. I’ll be back to normal by tomorrow, so I thank you for bearing with me.

7 comments:

Phil "Satyrblade" Brucato said...

*hugs*

For what it's worth, you have friends - even in unexpected places - who value and love you. You may not had produced blood-offspring, but you inspire, entertain, enlighten and often keep sane an amazing number of people. Your insightfully humorous work and just fucking HUGE heart make this screwy world a hell of a lot better all 'round. Your "circle of influence" is bigger than you might believe, Bunche. And there are many "family men" who cannot say nearly as much.

*big manly hugs*

Chris Weston said...

But on the plus side, at least you still get a "lie-in" when you want... something I haven't enjoyed for six years now!

:)

Moving post, though, Bunche. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

It's great that you have health insurance now. Please take advantage of it and get bloodwork at least 3X/yr. Watch your BP and cholesterol. Just because the heart muscle's strong (which is great) doesn't eliminate the possibility of a stroke.

If your hospitalization was fate's "wake-up call" and you're ever feeling up to it, you may want to look into mentoring programs in your neighborhood. Any kid would be lucky to have a guy like you caring about them. There may even be a mini-Bunche, an bright, artistic, funny kid with no dad in the picture waiting for someone to relate to.

Chez said...

Bunche, there are very few people in this world I'm truly glad I know -- whom I feel truly lucky and blessed to have met. I don't see you much anymore -- although Lord knows, Jayne and I would very much like to -- but you are always in my thoughts. Always. You're an honest-to-God original in every sense of the word, and although this is probably of little consolation to you -- it doesn't create the father-son bond you crave and so richly deserve -- you're loved and cared for in ways I'm not sure even you fully know. I don't say this to be patronizing or out of some sort of obligation; I say it because it's absolute fact, and because the love you inspire and the kindness you foster simply by being around, in some ways, makes me incredibly envious.

I guess I'm just really proud to be able to call you a friend.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bunche-

just read your fathers day post, and I'm writing to commiserate.
Father's Day always kind of gets me too. I haven't spoken to my dad
in at least 10 years. The last time i did was to congratulate him on
his marriage to his new wife; he asked me if we could see each other
in a pained voice, and I told him I wasn't sure that was a good idea.
He also told me about my new step brother and sister, and how the son
was the same age as me as he got my age wrong. I tried pretty hard
during high school to kind of reconnect with my dad, and realized he was going through a lot of his own shit and sort of gave up on us.
I'm not angry towards the guy, I just view our non relationship as
consequences of choices HE made. But saying that I'm not angry
doesn't mean I don't bear scars from not having a positive male role model when I was growing up.

Living with my mom as I currently am, I see a lot of traits in myself
that I absolutely hate that have come from her. I'm a chronic self
doubter who gives up on things instead of seeing them through. I
think a lot about what kind of person I might of been with a father behind me. That's not a knock on my mom, who put me and all my sibs through college as a single parent and never expected any of
us to pay a dime, but I definitely feel like my confidence and self
reliance would have been stronger with two parents. I mean, here I am
again, back at mom's when I couldn't hack it on my own. It took me forever to move out of this place, and here I am, back with mom,
seemingly unable to keep a temp job for even a few weeks. i think
about stuff like my father dying, his funeral, and if i have anything
to gain from his will. maybe he'll finally come through for me in death.

All of my friends are popping out kids like there's no tomorrow. My girlfriend wants us to have a kid, but everything I touch turns to shit. We're not even married, and ours is the longest most successful relationship in our family. I can barely take care of (or afford to take care of) myself, much less a kid. I feel like I'm doomed to become my father in a lot of ways.

Anyway, I think very few people's lives unfold the way they envision
them. Mine certainly hasn't. It's not bad, but it's not what I
imagined. Life it seems is about 99% rolling with it. You're well
loved by a legion of friends, no small feat when you look at what
utter douchebags most people are these days.

Roll with it. I'm rolling along beside you.

Anonymous said...

I don't even know you and I love you!!!

Anonymous said...

Bunche,
You and I have discussed some of this before, and I believe that we should grab some of uncle jose's depression juice and have it out again some night soon, as i am moving back to brooklyn and will be far more available for escapaderie (if that isn't a word, it should be). And manly bear hugs, i will be available for those too.
-mike (big)