Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Sins of Our Fathers

In my last post, I started telling you about a situation that I observed on saturday night.  The father of two beautiful children was at the party that I attended.  He lost his wife, the mother of the children, about two years ago.  Since then, the deceased wife's sister (and her husband, a close friend to my fiancé) take care of the kids a majority of the time.  The father of the children does buy them coats, clothes, toys, and more, but that's not what I am concerned with.  What I'm concerned with is his inability to spend time with them in a meaningful way.  When his son, all of three or four feet tall (I think, but about up to by waist I think, and I'm damn tall) asked him to play, he said he "wasn't getting down on the floor" to play that game.  Fine, but why not?  It was tic-tac-toe, a simple game if there was one, because by its nature, it requires minimal effort.

I wanted to scream at this guy: "just go through the motions at least, even if you don't want to be emotionally involved with your own son!"

Was I judging him?  You bet your ass I was.  But he deserved it, in my humble and limited opinion.  I know that the situation has more variables than I might be able to account for.  Listen: he showed up at the party already having drunk a bit with a buddy of his, and then left before the kids even went to bed.  He was cocky and brash and not terribly old, all things I might be able to understand.  Even if he was so pained by his wife's sudden death (and who wouldn't be) and his avoidance of all things-related-to-his-wife (including the kids) so extreme, why the cavalier attitude about everything?  Why was it necessary later, when he did resign to play some tic-tac-toe with is son, that the wife's mother (babcia) urge his daughter on with a little push toward her Father after she showed hesitation.

I know it is easy for me to sit here as an outsider and parrot out a characterization of a guy that is unfair.  Perhaps the reason I'm being so hard is because it was a similarly felt situation by a different woman at the party, one who was alive and beautiful and hugely intelligent.  One who's husband decided to stay home, who talked to me for half the night about taking care of her daughter as if she was a single mom.  Only later did I come to hear that the husband doesn't do anything, ever, and that they were in the process of a divorce.  I know, I know, that maybe there's more to the situation, like the fact that the pressure gets to her, and that she started to yell at her daughter at the end of the night, but still.

And obviously these are bigger situations than to be purely the result of drinking.  Maybe. Then again, booze maybe just aids and abets bad shit, or amplifies it, or allows it through nasty justification. Whatever.  And I know that people who drink, on a whole, actually live longer (remind me for the link!), but it doesn't matter.  I'm increasingly thinking that my year off booze may turn out to be more than that.  I'm not sure, of course, okay, I'm not sure.  But I am feeling clearer and clearer, and less and less inclined to drink.  Even the rarest aged whiskey has the same basic chemical that the cheapest "joose" has, and that is something I should remember when I start to think about alcohol as a rarity to be treasured.  Sure, my mind says, don't drink, don't worry about drinking at all, but one day don't you want to have that one glass of ridiculously tasty whiskey.

The answer, I think, is that I'd rather maintain my eligibility to be a good Father, should the situation arise, and that, there's a 0% chance alcohol will fuck it up for me if I don't drink, and a higher percentage chance if I do, even a little tiny bit, and that the consequences are so despicable to me that that my new experiences provide strong enough perspective for me to change my valuation of the risk. I'll forgo an hour or two of self indulgence to have life.

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