I’ve got to preface this story by saying I was an annoying jerk when I was young.
This story starts in the passing summers of my middle school years where we (my sister, brother, and I) would split the hot days of our youth at my father’s place. During this stretch we’d spend time in a tiny budding town in Missouri sandwiched between a handful of houses and farm.
My dad yelled at me during dinner. I cannot pull the reason why out of the depths of my consciousness but I know he made me cry. This wasn’t an extraordinary thing in my younger years – I was crying or getting hot and bothered if the wind blew wrong. This was different though for one reason or another and that is pretty much all I can recall on reasoning. The following moments will dictate my father and I’s relationship for the rest of my life and that is why this tale is important.
I was called outside to the front of the house where for the first (and last) time I was talked to like a son. Terms were explained – why he was mad, what I could do to improve – not be a idiot, a sort of talk that I have come to learn as normal in other’s parental relationships. Of course I cried again during our talk saying I was sorry and I’m fairly sure a couple of tears shined in setting sun that evening in his eyes as well. There it was a fleeting moment where we bonded and grew together – where he wasn’t trying to make things better with gifts or yelling at me to “sit the fuck down.” We chatted a bit more and I was still feeling sour about the being yelled at but moving on to the point where I was feeling closer and happier about it all.
Then he suggested getting fireworks and lighting them off on the edge of this sink hole he called a pond. Now for those who don’t know, Missouri has almost no laws covering fireworks, or so it seems, and any man-child can buy face exploding boom-sticks at low low prices, 12-for-the-price-of-1 prices. But I wasn’t interested. I said that I didn’t really want to and was fine with just getting back inside and trying to even my keel.
Of course he pushed. He said I’d like it, went in grabbed his keys and trotted back out. My brother somehow caught wind of my father’s intentions and popped his head out looking to drag himself into our clunky father-son time. He was told no from dear old dad, and that just me and him were going to go and he was going to be forced to watch from the attached back patio.
We drove in near silence and the black cat labeled shop was no different. I was pressed on what type I wanted and became meek. This is not what I wanted. We were so close to something, a new level or respect – and it was blown apart my a buy one get one sale on mortars.
As the dirt settled around the red truck near the pod, I could hear my brother clamoring to go and be apart of our show – but was told to stay put. We lit a handful of bright popping shells using a cigarette that seemed to eternally rest between my father’s lips or hands. It still wasn’t resolved, I had a big dumb fearful grin on my face from the near by bombs and crackles but the unresolved issue lay like an undercooked brownie in my stomach.
I was glad once our awkward laughs and forced congratulations were interrupted by my sibling, who then lit a couple and made things seem normal again