Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bonding Gone Wrong

Circa 1976 or so, my father, via his work, got tickets to a Cowboys-Steelers football game.

The first thing to go wrong, on the drive out to the game... It was a cold day, but no one had thought to give me a coat to wear. My mother later said she'd followed us on the highway (with my coat), to no avail.

After the game:  The sponsored bus to and from the game was fine. What was NOT fine was my father driving me home (we lived out in Briar, Texas, which was 15 minutes outside of Azle, which was 40 minutes outside of Fort Worth).

My father was so drunk after the game that he couldn't steer straight. I was about 12, and had to keep nudging him to stay awake and had to keep grabbing the steering wheel. I remember the car swerving off into the other lane on many occasions... but we survived.

This is an example of nearly everything that I experienced as a kid. There was always something at least mildly creepy and scary going on (and sometimes actually life-threatening, as I only realized later).

It was only as I grew up and went to college (where I was finally around other people with whom I shared "intense, intimate thoughts," per either late-night sharing or tipsy cafĂ© sharing, back when English majors used to drink for hours at cafes) that I realized: Wow... most people came from backgrounds where the father didn't punch the mother in the face because she came home late from a dental appointment, and where the mother didn't intentionally stop the kid from any social interaction, even on graduation night... Wow!

2 comments:

Erik Bartlam said...

I have to spend Fridays in the office...nearly every one of those days ends up with me following a brief obsession around the internet. Somehow, last Friday, I got on Squeaky Fromme and the Manson girls.

I'm still obsessing...my last two posts have stemmed from Friday's outing. Most of them seem to come from middle-upper middle class "normal" families...fresh faced and all, homecoming princesses...but, there was a lot of alcoholism in their homes. That and divorce.

I don't think the gravity of situations like you've described here over the years can be overestimated. Even if you were just scribbling on bathroom walls it would obviously be better than stabbing people but you've obviously managed more than that. Some of the stuff you've eaked out on this blog has been fabulous. The one about wading in the water was particularly striking to me.

Beth Austin said...

I think that coming from a loose, permissive (yet unemotional) upper-middle-class family in the late '60s might've made one more susceptible at the time to someone seemingly "authentic" and "tuned in" like Manson. Today, the equivalent in rebellion would probably be hanging out with "gangstas," which, fortunately for most middle-class girls, doesn't usually involve any of the intellectual mind-fucking that Manson was so good at: At some point, you see how stupid. Myself, from the lower-middle-class (yet with a library-going mother), isolated out in the country in my formative years: Forced to read, and thus THINK, a lot for companionship. I decided for myself at age 15 that the Bible's "rules," written by desert people 2000 years ago, were bullshit. For anyone who's intellectually dismissed the Bible at 15... you're kind of hard-core and non-Manson-inclined later.