Fighting Genes

A

s painful as it is to admit at times, I am turning into my father. Growing up, my old man was very much into his own thing and most of my childhood memories center on times spent with my mother and uncle. My memories of my father are limited to the guy I rarely saw except on Sundays, and even then, only occasionally.

Since he came home late, he often ate after we kids did, by himself, usually lost in his hobby of judging and commenting on senryu poetry. After which, he would crack a can of beer, plop himself in front of the TV, only to sleep through his favorite shows, westerns like Rawhide, Gunsmoke, et al. And how’s my life? I get home late, eat dinner, crack a can of beer, and often fall asleep as I watch TV. Or I go online on Xanga and evaluate senryu. But these are superficial resemblances that are pretty harmless in and of themself. But it is symptomatic of a pretty selfish side of the O-man.

It became a truism in our house that work took precedence over everything and each individual was free to pursue his or her own interests in the meantime. And even as I swore I would not follow in the footsteps of my father, I indulged myself in this rather selfish independence once I was old enough. If I had a place to go to, I’d go. Thanksgiving dinner with the family? If I had an invite to a friends home, I’d go. Christmas Eve? Spent with the girlfriend of the month. And this was true of others in the family. I had a piano recital, my father would never come. He had his senryu meetings which were more important to him. When I advanced as a finalist in a singing contest–one that I ultimately won, I might add–the parents wished me luck and went on a trip to the Grand Canyon. Was I hurt? Not consciously. It was the way our family was. And for good or bad, I maintain this mindset.

My mother had no problem with this situation and she would do what she wanted too. But M is another story. She will wait fro me to come home before she eats dinner. When I fall asleep in front of the TV, she will cover me with a blanket. And when I’m on line doing my own thing on Xanga, she says nary a word.

I feel pretty lucky to have met M.

So I fight the one selfish gene I inherited from my old man: indulging myself socially by myself. She is an extension of my being, as I hope I am of hers. As my friends and students know, I will do nothing without her. If I get invited to a party or step out to a sports bar, I will always bring her. If my students want to hang with me, they gotta hang with M, too. And get along with her. If she doesn’t want to go, then I won’t go. It’s not a big deal, and its the least I can do…

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