|Father's Day makes me question the past.|
Prior to Mother's Day, I wrote a piece on making Mother's Day special. For Father's Day, I couldn't bring myself to write the same type of piece, because there is something deeper that needs to be said about fathers and Father's Day.
About 30 years ago, Bill Cosby did a routine on how kids did everything they could to make a wonderful gift for their mothers on Mother's Day. Even if it was a piece of wood, they polished it, painted it, or did something to make it special for Mom. Cosby said, "On Father's Day, I gave my Dad a rock. There, take that and don't complain."
Dad gets the good gifts - ties, underwear and socks - not even a full damn outfit. You go out in public in underwear and socks - the tie won't keep you out of jail.
Father's, however, are the cornerstone of our society, and there are a lot of fathers that don't understand that. Mothers hold down the fort, but the direction of the ship is guided by the father.
What do you hear more from people in therapy - I just wanted my mother's approval or I just wanted my father's approval? Fathers and how they treat their children have a huge impact on the psyche of our youth and future society.
If you have your father with you or have fond memories of him, you are blessed, and possibly in the minority. There are way too many children that don't even know their father. Those fathers are not men, they are selfish cowards. All they knew was how to make a baby, but failed when it came to making a person.
I have no respect for fathers that are not actively invovled in the lives of their child or children. You want to end a conversation with me in a heartbeat, tell me you're the father of a couple kids, but you don't know 'nuthin' 'bout them - good-bye.
When I became a father in 2000 at the age of 44, I was scared, excited, nervous, proud and I had to use the restroom a lot.
There is a picture of me holding my hours-old daughter and I swear it could illluminate Vegas - screw the Hoover Dam. I was that emotionally engage with this tiny life. And I've done all I can to keep that same feeling.
I bonded with my daughter. I carried her everywhere. I got dirty. I spent hours making shaving cream beards and Marilyn Monroe hairdos on both of us when it was bath time. I brought all of her toy dinosaurs, whales and farm animals to life and she begged for more. I learned to make balloon animals before she was born. Once she was old enough to not freak out when a balloon popped, we had lots of animals all over the house. I went to her pre-school and read to her and her classmates.
My daughter adored me and still does.
When she was in pre-school, she said she wanted to marry me. I laughed. So, I got some flowers and went into her classroom before the bell announced the beginning of the school day and proposed to her. She said, "Yes!!!!!!!" and hugged me so tight. Then she announced to her friends and her teacher that, "My Dad and I are getting married."
The teacher wanted to have me arrested and her put in counseling. What a dumbass. My daughter doesn't remember my proposal. But she holds deep in her heart the love it represented at that time in her life.
I remember teaching her life's lessons in rather unconventional ways. I have ADD, was a former stand-up comic and have a very, very creative mind.
When we would go through the store and she'd grab my sleeve and say, "Dad, I want that... Dad, I want that (something different)... Dad, I want that... (another different item)..." I'd finally say, "Honey, I have to tell you what I learned from the Rolling Stones."
"What's that, Dad?"
"The Rolling Stones sang a song that said, You can't always get what you want, but if you try some time, you get what you need."
"Dad, I want that..."
"Honey, you have to ask yourself, do you want that or do you need that?"
"I want it, Dad, can I get it?"
"Sweetie, we can't afford to get everything we want in life. Some times we have to look at a thing and think, Do I NEED that? - If so, you get it. But if you just want it, you'll wind up with a lot of junk and no money. That would be bad."
"Can I still get it?"
"So, do you want that toy or do you need that toy?" And then I shut up for as long as it would take her to think about it.
With her face looking at the floor, "I want it. But I don't need it."
"Excellent. You just made me the proudest Dad in the store and in all of Las Vegas. You made a good choice. And good choices make a good life."
Whenever the, "Dad, I want that..." request came up in the future, I'd ask her, "What do the Rolling Stones say?"
"Dad, I don't like the Rolling Stones."
"What did the Rolling Stones say?"
"Dad, I DON'T LIKE THE ROLLING STONES."
Mumbling, she'd reply in an almost indiscernable voice, "You can't always get what you want. But if you try some time, you get what you need." Sigh. Shrug. Grumble.
"You are the smartest girl in the world. I love you. Now, do you want that or do you need that?"
"I want it... and I'll put it back."
"I am so proud of you."
I've made a habit of quoting musicians and other great people in conversations with my daughter. She's learned about Jesus, Ben Franklin, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and John Lennon.
One day, she proudly announced to one of her friends, "My Dad is good friends with John Lennon." (He'd been dead for decades, but to my daughter, I knew John Lennon and we were BFF's.)
When we first watched the movie "Christmas Story" - the tale of the boy who dreamed of a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas - I told her that the house was in Cleveland, "Where Daddy was born and raised." For some reason, she thought that movie was a home movie of my life.
She ask, "Dad, why did they call you Ralphie when you were little?"
When I was 15, I was hit in the right eye with a hockey puck during practice by my hockey coach. I've never been able to read with that eye. My daughter thinks that "I shot my eye out" because I didn't listen to my parents. Through the years, I never told her that it wasn't me in the movie. She's still concerned with me shooting my eye out.
Everything could not have been better with us. Then, in February of 2005, my wife moved out for good. In March 2005 my father died and a week later my cousin died.
Suddenly, the face that smiled and laughed every morning wasn't there every day. A court decided she would be with me every other week. Half of my daughter's life was stolen from me.
Things got worse. I developed severe nervous conditions and mental conditions that I must have had all my life and they went into full bloom. I was a mess. Eventually, I had to be shipped from Las Vegas back to Cleveland to be near my sister, the only person who could care for me.
I haven't seen my daughter since December 13, 2009. She's 10 now. We talk on the phone a lot. We get to chat on Skype at my sister's house a couple times a month. But it's not the same. Father's Day will be very hollow for me. Maybe that's why I resent fathers who choose to NOT be part of their child's life, when they can.
I can't always get what I want. But if I cry some times, I get what I need.
My daughter sent me a gift. I don't want to talk about it. I'll take a picture of it and post it on my personal journal site - The Life And Times of Roger Blazic when I get a computer again (I'm renting one at a casino to write this article).
I want you to make note of two words that I used several times in my stories about my daughter - Love and Proud. I never heard those words from my father. He did tell me he loved me twice. One of the two times, he said, "I LOVE YOU GOD DAMNIT." It was during a fight and it failed to reach the sense of warmth and nurturing aspirations of traditional familial love gestures.
I was a touring stand-up comic for nine years. I think I did over 3,000 shows. My father never came to any of them. He was disgusted that I had decided to be a "clown" and not get a real job.
In 1995, I was flying to Las Vegas to audition for the Riviera Comedy Club. I had just returned from a trip to New York to audition for MTV. My father said, "What the hell are you wasting your time going to Vegas for? That town is nothing but nudity and gambling. You already proved you were nothing in New York. Now, you'll waste your money to prove you're nothing in that hell hole in the desert." Thanks for the encouragement, dad.
There were a lot of things I learned by observing my father. He got up and went to work every day. He shaved on Saturday, so people wouldn't think he was unemployed. He was an excellent gardener and I learned to grow tomatoes and a variety of vegetables. I learned that he was more interested in Wall Street Week and Luis Rukehyser than me. I learned that if you grow a beard, you're a good for nothing bum that looks like a Hell's Angel. I learned that when it's raining the road are wet. He used to say that all the time, "It's raining, the roads are wet." I never knew the latter could be inseparable from the former.
The two things my father said to me the most were: You're going to be a bum on a street corner. And... If you keep that up, you'll never save your soul. To which I'd reply, "Are you saying I'm going to Hell?"
"I'm not saying that. But you won't save your soul living the way you do."
OK... I'm NOT going to the West Side, but I'm on a bus headed west.
Oh, I forgot to mention that during the last ten years of my father's life, he went to Catholic Mass three times a day. Yes 3 X A DAY. He prayed the Rosary all day. He watched Catholic programming on TV. He had Catholic radio blasting on every radio in the house - all day. I considered my father a militant Catholic. He was so far to the right, he was actually the light bulb at the end of the right wing. The Pope was afraid of my father.
I told my father I wanted to see a counselor when I was in my teens. He said, "That's what your priest is for. You don't waste your money on that crap. And you have family." Talking to my family was the reason I wanted to see the counselor, but I didn't tell him that.
When I was in my early 40's and travelling on the road doing comedy, I saw that goatees were popping up on MTV. They were just starting to come into fashion. So, I thought I'd try one to see if it fit with my act and my look.
My father saw it and said, "OH MY GOD. What the hell is that crap on your face? You look like a dead rat is stuck on your mouth." I told him I was trying it out and I might get rid of it in a few weeks.
Several weeks later, after a long road trip, I stopped at his house. I still had the goatee. The next memory plays in my mind in 3-D with surround sound whenever it invades my thoughts. My father said, "I thought you were going to cut that crap off of your face. You look disgusting. You know what you look like? An asshole. That's right an asshole. And everyone that sees you says, There goes an asshole." He was poking me in the chest with each repetition of the word asshole. After ten minutes of him berating me and everything in my life, I left.
Whenever I didn't do something to my father's liking, he'd regularly whip me with the Catholic Fourth Commandment from the famous Ten... Honor thy father and thy mother. That usually led to me buying another bus ticket heading west.
My mother once said, "Your father would join a golf league and have some fun, but he has to be with you." I told my mother my dad could go on the Pro Tour and that would be just fine with me. "Come back when you run out of balls or find some."
Being a father takes courage. It is a big responsibility. You have a child that loves you unconditionally. Kids do that. You could be the worst father in the world and they'll still love you. Why would you not give them the love they so need and deserve?
My father was good at giving me money. But I wanted something completely different. My psychologist knows all about it.
I look back at my time with the man that brought me into the world and think, "What a pitiful waste of time. Was prayer or TV or mowing the lawn more important than me?" I guess it was. I guess it was.
My first wife and I had one coversation about having children. One. She was against it because she spent her whole childhood caring for her sister's kids after the fathers disappeared. I was scared to death to have a child. "I'm afraid I might be like my father, and I could never do that to a child."
Time turned that around. I became the father I never dreamed I could be. But now, I can't be the father I want to be - because there is a 2,300 mile gap between me and the love of my life.
On Father's Day, I won't get what I want. I'll cry for some time. And my daughter will call me... she always does... and I'll get what I need. I thought about buying a bus ticket west. In my world, that is where Heaven is.
It will be a tough day on Father's Day. Now you know why I think about Father's Day 2011 - Good Dad, Bad Dad, No Dad.
Happy Father's Day
Ideas For Making Mother's Day Special, Sunday, May 8th, 2011
A Short Story: A Clown Without A Circus
St. Patrick's Day Means Sadly Leaving Las Vegas To Me
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