Wednesday, August 28, 2002

happy birthday dad

Scratching my left ankle half an hour ago or so, the one that was attacked by a swarm of fireants a couple days ago, scratching it absent-mindedly, totally spacing out while John Moore was babbling about possesive nouns and masuline and feminine words, neutered ones, and saying throaty greek words, scratching my ankle, making one of the ant bites bleed again, I thought of front lawns burning, of gasoline, of ant hills, and of flames flames motherfucking flames.

There was this incident when I was in elementary school - that whole pre-pubescent era is when big blur of moments, none too well associated with a certain age or grade, but if I had to make a guess, I would say that I was probably in fourth grade when this happened. The front lawn of our Canterbury Lane house, this little duplex, had been literally taken over by ant hills everywhere. I think probably a quarter of our front lawn due to our own laziness about lawn care and matinence had slowly been won, in what was a turf war, a dispute over territories, over the boundaries between our ideas of nature, of green front lawns, and that of nature's idea of nature, huge ant hills, a lawn of sand, ants being drawn to the fallen apples in our front lawn from the red apple tree. Bees were also drawn to our lawn a lot, but their presence was a lot less visible, far less invasive then the dirt mounds slowly eating away the grass.

I think my dad might have been bit by them, or so fuddled by their encroachment, so threatened by what it represented that he set about one afternoon to kill off the massive ant population residing in our front lawn. I think it might also have been a reemerging of the bug killer we all were as little kids, the person that picked the legs of daddy long legs and watched them wiggle around. The hose from the backyard was stretched around to the front, sunk into one of the huge ant holes and turned on full blast. My dad's efforts to flush out the ants lasted for probably about an hour or so until frustrated by the lack of visible results, he got the gas bottle that we used to refill our lawn mower and poured it over all of the massive ant colonies. Matches were lit and dropped with destructive fury, with a casual air as if burning your front lawn in a dense neighborhood of duplexes was perfectly normal, billy, we started the fire, don't lie, we're all pyros at heart, what we build is only as good as how pretty it'll look burning, we all sprung from the flames, and fire is okay, too okay, too acceptable - it should scare us more but we throw ourselves into it all too eagerly, with little thought, little concern for what, if anything will happen, because it just seems like the logical endpoint of it all.

Our front lawn burned pretty much throughout the afternoon, and somehow, by some stroke of luck, only our lawn burned, it did not get out of control, we were not made homeless by my dad's hatred of ants, simple ants, that had taken over our lawn. Neighbors approached the fire with the same casual disregard for the fact that this was fire, fucking fire, and jokingly suggested to my dad that he should get out the hot dogs, that they would bring over some marshmellows. I thought of all this, and more, of things that no matter how long I write this would never be able to convey to you, all the little things, the chipping paint on the side of the house, the overgrown bushes, our old car, what the sidewalk looked like - but so much more, and all of this in a brief microsecond, all of it reexperienced in the quick scratching of a bitten ankle, a whoosh of happy nostalgia before I remember what date it was, that date, my dad's birthday, August 28th. And then I had to somehow reconcile my disgust with my dad of late with things like this, funny things I can recall from whenever, from a time before deportations, before reentrys, before fights, before eighth grade cousins molested, before bigger fights, before lung cancer, before drug addiction, before emminent death, crying, yelling at me because he can't live forever, because he can't yell at death, driving him to the doctor's only to have one of his drug buddies meet us in the parking lot afterward where drugs are sold and snorted in the back of the minivan while I sat in the frontseat and tried to think that I would make it, that stuff like this would not break me, lying to him so that he won't come stay with us, telling him we are staying with my mom's friends even though my mom has bought a house, and for good reason, does not want his parasitic, stealing ass to know where she lives, to know that he can cry and tell her how he's going to die and how he has no money, nowhere to go, and hope, and in fact, know that my mom will let him stay with her, that Catholics are supposed to be forgiving and merciful -- and I fucking hate it, maybe I would yell at him, at motherfucking you, and let you know that it is not all right, that I hate you, but don't want you to die, to just disappear, to stop throwing yourself into our lives when no one else will put up with your shit, that I get sad, really sad when my sister says she hates our dad to me in car rides, and tells me honestly that she doesn't think he ever cared about us, that he probably doesn't even know the names of our schools - and I know that is not true, I know that I would like to believe that, that that would make it so much easier to not give a shit about him, to not feel this horrible whatever you want to call it, where I can not hate him, cannot wish him away, where I still feel like I should call him, that it is his birthday after all - that my body is his, that there is some blood bond, that maybe it is thicker than water - but I don't want to think about this, I want to be like my sister and hate him, and not elevate our bodies, all of ours to some exulted status, where I know that it means something true, something that really can't be verbalized, but something true goddamnit, motherfucking true, that my mom and my dad are me, that I am the product of them, of their genes, of their conjoined semen and egg - that all of that must mean something, or nothing does, that my body is not the product of someone I hate, of an asshole, that there are these things, these burning lawns that make things harder, more gray.

And really, I don't what I am trying to say, but that I will say this: that on Saturday night, on Sunday morning, in the drunken haze that was the space in between the two, I went to Sean's room where he was watching Return of the Jedi, that I was naked with him, with either his cock in my mouth, or mine in his, or some other position involving getting our rocks off, that during this, this fumbling towards what we hoped would be ecstasy, the movie continued to play on his tv, it was towards the end of the movie during the big fight between Luke and Darth Vader - Bonnie has told me about all the times she has had sex to Portishead and motherfucking yeah, I have had sex to talk about "the Dark Side," to motherfucking Star Wars, to more talk about what it means to be a father, that Darth Vader can be Luke's father, that "I am your father," that Luke resisted Darth Vader, said No, that yes, this was actually dialogue I had sex to:

Luke: Your thoughts betray you, Father. I feel the good in you, the conflict.
Darth Vader: There is no conflict.
Luke: You couldn't bring yourself to kill me before and I don't believe you'll destroy me now.
Darth Vader: You underestimate the power of the Dark Side. If you will not fight, then you will meet your destiny.

That this means something, that everything does.

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