Suicide is painless, I am referring to the theme from MAS*H and not the act itself.
About 40 years ago that theme always served notice that my bedtime had arrived. The sound of the guitar and helicopter in the beginning meant thatÂ adultÂ time had arrived and it was time for my sisters and I to lie down and close our eyes.
Sometimes I would try to hide behind the couch or in the hallway so I could watch the opening. I thought it was cool to see the helicopters come over the mountains and to watch the people running to greet them.
And sometimes my middle sister would sneak out of her room to come stand next to me. I remember looking at her and telling her to be quiet so we wouldn’t get caught.
Go To Bed!
Sometimes the ‘rents would walk over andÂ escortÂ us back to bed and sometimes we would hear my father growl, “GO TO BED.”
That didn’t happen often but when it did it fell on the nights he worked a second job. I never appreciated what that meant or how hard it must have been.
Never thought about what it was like to leave the house at 7 AM to drive 25 miles, work all day and then go teach night school for another three hours so that you could drive home from a university that was further away than your “main office” so that you could arrive home around 10 PM or so.
Sometimes when I think about it I feel like calling home and apologizing for having been a pain-in-the-ass or perceived as ungrateful.
You can’t screw an old head on young shoulders but after having been a parent for more than a few years you learn to appreciate your parents in ways you didn’t before.
You Think You Understand But You Really Don’t
Had a minor disagreement with someone at an old office of mine. I had more than a decade of life experience on him and tried hard not to remind him about it.
I wanted to just work and do what we had to do but it bothered him enough that his insecurity would find ways into our conversations. He never missed an opportunity to try to tell me about how I made a mistake on a project and what he would have done.
Most of the time theÂ mistakesÂ he referred to weren’t things that you could easily quantify as being right or wrong, they were simply done differently than he would have liked.
Time passed and my tolerance for his remarks waned and one day I replied to a comment he made about his dogs being his kids with a very harsh, “you don’t know a fucking thing about being a parent.”
It wasn’t well received and we went back and forth for a few until I told him that I wasn’t interested in watching him wave his dick and a a tape measure around any more.
He asked what that meant and I told him that I wished one of those helicopters fromÂ MAS*H would magically appear and fly him away because he didn’t understand what he was saying or doing and I was tired of fighting about narishkeit.
“Things aren’t automatically wrong because they aren’t done your way and maybe one day you’ll grow up.”
What About You Dad?
I didn’t take notes or carry a camcorder so that story might be more or less colorful than reality. Time and my personal filter might have colored it so that I don’t remember it as it happened, but I don’t think about that.
Instead I find myself thinking about my father and wondering about his work life. His profession was different than mine, there was no family business for us to link up in but some things are the same.
We both worked for many years as the sole provider for our families and did the kinds of things that fathers do to see that everyone is fed, clothed and sheltered.
But even though our careers may not have been the same the one thing I know for certain is that we both had to interact with people so some of our experiences have to sync up.
And I wonder about who he didn’t like and how he dealt with the pain-in-the-ass that we all work with. He wasn’t one to complain about these things so even though I am sure he dealt with them they aren’t something I associate with him or childhood.
And now I sit here wondering if my own children will think about me in similar terms. Will they see me as always having worked hard for the family or will they see a different guy.
Will they view me as being whiny and a complainer or a man who did what he had to do because whining didn’t change anything.