dating and the single man

I don’t know how to act around women anymore.
Or do I?
Come to think of it I’m not sure I ever did. If I really think about it, it seems plausible that my awkward and goofy self just got lucky to find someone to marry me. I’ve always been awkward, a little goofy and insecure with people in general. I guess it worked because regardless of long term success ratio I did date a lot of women before I got hitched and some of them were out of my league in a lot of ways. Despite my perceived shortcomings.

Something changed over the years. At some point in my marriage I found that my reservations about my ability to speak to women diminished a ton. Maybe it was because I could hide behind the cloak of being married, and it needs to be said that I never flirted with the intention of cheating, I just got caught up in what I call “the Dance”. Flirtation is natural, generally harmless if both parties know the rules, and is way more common than any married man or woman wants to admit. Long story short, I became fearless. Not intentionally brazen, just completely uninhibited and I began to speak as freely with women as I did with men. It was liberating, and just a bit too successful. As it turns out, women really are attracted to married men.

I was the king of fidelity despite a very unhappy and physically ungratifying marriage. I really don’t know how many men could survive 10 sexless years (yes, your read that correctly) without seeking a mistress. But I did. It was extraordinarily difficult. To have an attractive wife that you can’t touch is torture. She rejected me entirely but I still had urges. Not just for sex, for intimacy in general. One thing people don’t know about me is that I am a mush, I love hand holding, hugs, kissing…well you get it. It was very difficult for me to be deprived of it. It was a need unfulfilled. When it became clear that my marriage wasn’t going to improve, I set my sights on the orgiastic delights that I could look forward to once eventually and inevitable divorced. With my brazen and unfettered ability to speak confidently and flirtatiously to the superior sex I was bound to meet someone, or many someone’s and get that part of my life back.

Here I am. Divorced and single. I know how to talk to them now. Unfortunately I have developed a new neuroses…second guessing myself after every encounter.

I had a really nice day on the boat with a nice, attractive and age-appropriate woman. We talked for hours. I know that we are very different. She is quiet and very composed. To be fair, she was much more outgoing that day then when I first met her. But she is VERY different from me, which can be a good thing. I ended the day feeling good about things.

Now, two days later and one unreturned text offering to hang out, I am thinking the worst. And I really have no reason to feel insecure. But here I am…

I’m sure she’ll get back to me. It’s just an example of how much I hate my neurotic and insecure side. In every other area of my life I’m confident and bold and I almost never look back at the trail of destruction in my wake. But the period between a first and second get together with a woman that I am interested in? Fucking neurotic city.

Sigh…my grandfather always joked as our family dog chased a car down the street. “What’s he going to do with it when he catches it”?

Independence Day

It’s been a few years since the 4th fell on a weekend. And if memory serves the last 3 years it rained on the 4th. I remember because I live in the region of vacation homes and every time it rains on Memorial Day, The 4th or Labor Day I always remark that I’d be pissed if I was a weekender and it then rained. One advantage of being here year round I suppose.

Holidays haven’t been huge for me lately. The distance from my fam and friends, the virus, living in an area where I don’t know many people all contributed to a blah attitude about holidays. But not this year. 4th of July 2020 was going to be different. I HAD PLANS.

A couple weeks before, my awesome friends Jeff and Leanne asked if they could spend the 4th with us. I jumped at it. Spending the day at the lake with friends is my idea of Paradise. A few days after that my youngest daughter told me that she and her boyfriend were coming up for the weekend. YAY! Then a few days later I learned that my youngest boy was coming up also. YAY! But his amazing girlfriend wasn’t. BOO! Then 3 days later Abby got the day off. YAY! (these yay’s are a nod to a certain blogger, you know who you are). To top it off the weather report called for a gorgeous day. The planets were aligning nicely. Now if Jeff and Leanne were to cancel I would be fugging pissed off. Not Jeff, he won’t let you down.

The day arrived. My kids got here early Saturday morning. I had already bought a metric shit ton of food and there was some setting up and cleaning to do. The boat was ready, I had reserved a table at the beach, I was scrambling around. A stressor was my mother. I love her dearly but she is a fanatic about her house and every time I opened a bag of Dorito’s she was looking for a container for it. I felt like a dog must when he’s circling to drop a deuce and the owner is following closely with a poop bag. But by the time Jeff and Leanne rolled in with Jeff’s son Johnny and Leanne’s daughter McKenzie we were good to go. Boat here we come.

I gave them a good tour of the lake. Everyone had a blast. We headed back in around 3 because the call of all of that amazing food and drink was irresistible. Jeff had promised an assortment of meats in his legendary marinade and I had a backup batch of sirloin and chicken breasts. Add to the mix Macaroni salad, a ton of snacks and a cooler full of booze…yea moor the fucking boat already.

The men hung by the grill, commenting on the meat and making guttural grunting sounds. The women congregated on the farmer’s porch and occasionally mixed. I went to find my daughter’s boyfriend and told him to come be with the guys, not hang with the Joy Luck Club. He did. He and I have a complicated relationship. He thinks I hate him. I don’t. But there was that time that I told him I was going to cut his balls off. Water under the bridge. He’s a nice kid, he’s good to my daughter (all a dad should care about) and he has a lousy home life with no good male role models. So I’m trying to get to know him. He joined us. It was cool, all the guys around the grill.
Or maybe it was the bag of weed. Did I mention that?
Yeah, I started the day with a half ounce of stinky weed and I rolled a bag of fatties in the morning. My daughter smokes once in a while, usually only with me and I knew a few others there did (no names) and I don’t really drink anymore…I decided to fly the friendly skies with anyone that cared to join me. So yeah, father of the year getting baked with my daughter and her boyfriend. What are you going to do, we all had fun. And the boyfriend loosened up a little.

After the feast was consumed and cleaned up we all ended up on lawn chairs enjoying the late afternoon sun. We talked about movies and current events. Jeff, Ryan and I talked about music, ranking musicians and bands all the while I had my bluetooth speaker on and phone in hand putting on great song after great song. Everyone was having a blast. Unfortunately, all great things come to an end and Jeff and Leanne had to pack it up. It was the end of the day for them but I still had my kids there so I could continue on.
And we did.

What a day. What a weekend. I thank God for all of the blessings I have received in family and friends. This one made up for all of the lonely and uneventful holidays that I’ve had in a long long time.

Back in the game

My buddy and fellow blogger Steve of MSich Chronicles paid me the ultimate compliment yesterday when he linked his post to my blog. Just an aside, please check out his blog, he is a great writer and has a very cool story to tell.
I found it amusing because he mentioned my blog with particular reference to a series of posts I have written about yet another failed attempt at finding a meaningful relationship. As it tends to happen, it got me to thinking.

I have been divorced for almost 3 years. For the first two I don’t even think I tried to meet anyone. I was content in being alone as I tried to deal with the most pressing matters of my life: multiple hospitalizations, starting dialysis, battling the Social Security Administration over my disability claim and adapting to life 100 miles from all of my friends and family left me worn down and very cynical. I also think it is safe to say that I didn’t like the way I looked or felt and really believed that nobody would want to be with me. With the additional variable of living in an area where most of the age appropriate single women weigh a metric ton and have a better mustache than I could ever grow, it all adds up to single.

Last year I decided to dip my toe in the dating pool so I created a MATCH profile. As in real life, it was honest and to the point. Sure, I mentioned my sense of humor and my love of movies and blah blah fuckin’ blah but I also touched upon my health issues and my financial situation. By that I mean that I live with my mother. It took me zero time to realize that most, to be fair not all, women were looking for the words “financially secure”. My profile bordered on having actual crickets. Nothing. Zippo. Jack shit. It was abysmal but very telling. I had no regrets however, my attitude was and is that I would rather be honest up front than have a awkward conversation later.
Then I “met” Bella.
A fellow blogger and I developed an amazingly strong bond despite many miles between us. The prospect of her pending divorce and ability to possibly relocate gave me hope and consequently I allowed myself to feel actual feelings for her.
It ended badly. BUT, I don’t regret it for a second. She did me a favor, she awakened feelings in me I hadn’t had in ages. It felt good.

It took me a while to bounce back from that. I let my MATCH profile expire and decided to do some work on myself. I got back to the gym. I started a little part time business detailing cars to boost my bank account. I joined some local organizations to keep busy and be available in the event someone has a sister or cousin they could fix me up with. Then one day while playing poker at a friends house I met her.
She was the best friend of my buddy’s new wife. I was enthralled by her as she walked by and it wasn’t long before we became FB friends and then in real life. We became fast friends and soon we were talking daily. I will admit it now, I read into our blooming friendship. I wanted more. We started to hang out but soon it became evident that I liked her more than she liked me. We talked about the prospect of dating. She wasn’t ready. I don’t think I listen very well because I pursued her anyway. She asked if we could just hang out as friends and see what happens. I tried, I really did. But it didn’t work. She wasn’t ready and I couldn’t operate that way. The sound in my ears of me liking her more than she liked me was deafening. We parted ways. It’s too bad. I miss her. But I have no doubt that it wasn’t going to happen no matter how long I hung on.

So here we are. My romantic woes, as it were, are so notorious that Steve felt compelled to mention it in his blog. And that’s ok. It’s a good thing. And I’m in a better place. My own assessment of my romantic viability has changed for the better. I wasn’t rejected, I simply met women that weren’t right for me. It’s not an indictment on me. One didn’t care that I was broke and both thought I was a nice guy and attractive.
And as usual, I have a trick up my sleeve.
I met someone a few months ago. I did some work for a very nice woman, the first attractive, age appropriate woman I have met since moving up here. She has been quietly reaching out to me through FB and text all along but I did little more than politely respond. I was kind of seeing someone and I don’t like to confuse things. Now that thing is dead, I called her.

We’re going out Thursday.

I’m back baby.

Bad Karma

It is said that how you treat people says everything about you. Especially those that can do nothing for you. The other day I met someone whose treatment of others, my friends and I, whose behavior spoke veritable volumes about her character. And not a single word of it was remotely favorable.

If you live anywhere near NH you may have heard of the Fallen 7. Last year, a group of Bikers on a charitable ride for USMC causes was rounding a corner in Jackson, NH and found a heavy-duty pickup and attached car carrier in their lane. Having nowhere to go, no escape route as bikers call it, a bloodbath ensued. 5 bikes, 2 with passengers met a tragic death. 7 dead in all. The operator of the truck, a illegal with several moving violations including a recent DUI, with multiple drugs in his system, had crossed the lane. It was a huge story and one that struck a decisive blow to the heart of anyone who, or knows anyone that rides a motorcycle. The tragedy was made worse by the truck operator’s lack of remorse and the fact that Registry backlog and poor communication between state DMV’s had caused his CT DUI to not be processed in MA. If it had, his license would have been suspended.

A beautiful memorial was erected on the site of the motel they were staying (they died mere yards from the motel, a further tragedy) and since the accident many a group of bikers have made the pilgrimage to the site to pay respects. Sunday, some friends and I set out on ours.

We have been under a drought for a few weeks. Each week the weather apps on on our phones predicted rain but it never did. So when the forecast called for rain we set out anyway on our 100 plus mile ride. As luck would have it, the heavens opened up on about 10 miles short of our destination. Rain is manageable on a bike, but this rain was torrential and it stung our eyes so bad that we were forced to take cover. The first place we saw was what looked like a abandoned motel and we pulled into the parking lot. We found a unit with a sufficient overhang and took shelter.

It wasn’t long before we realized that it wasn’t abandoned. A woman who identified herself as the owner approached us. We apologized for our presence and assured her that we were planning on moving along once the rain let up even a little. She was a bit annoyed but said ok and walked back to her unit. Not ten minutes later she came back and she was highly agitated. She began shouting at us, calling us filthy scumbags and ordered us off of her “fucking property”. One of my buddies asked her why the sudden change of heart and she ramped up her agitation. She screamed that she was going to start “dumping bikes”. I was horrified to see her heading towards mine, the one I had owned for exactly a week. She had both hands on the right hand grip and had it off of the kickstand when I realized that I was armed. I pulled up my shirt and revealed my 9MM. I said “Lady, get your fucking hands off of my bike or I will be forced to exercise my 2nd amendment right”. Not taking any chances I grabbed the bike away before she could dump it. She swung at me several times until I unsnapped the button of my holster and doubled down on my stance. She turned her attention to my buddy Tom who had a travel mug of coffee in his hand. She screamed at him and slapped the cup out of his hand. He told her to back off, that we would leave. We pulled out as she screamed obscenities at us.

It took a while for it all to settle in, it was a while longer before we were able to laugh about it. But it wasn’t funny. We completed our trip, paid our respects and made it home with several more stops to get out of the rain. We’re still talking about it 3 days later.

Several years ago I read a story about a Jackson, NH innkeeper who was sued by a Moroccan couple for refusing them service on the grounds that they were “Muslims from the Middle East who had no business being in our country.” NH had only recently passed hate crime legislation and she was the first person sued under it. After some research, yup you guessed it, it was her.

We engaged her on Facebook, gave her several poor reviews despite not being technically guests. Almost every review we read of her place was critical and often scathing, detailing tale after tale of verbal abuse and poor service. She was clearly a horrible person. She went after us and our reviews, doubling down on her “filthy biker” language. This was not good for her at all because us “filthy bikers” are a huge part of her business, largely due to the fact that she is ten miles from a very popular memorial site. But it didn’t end there. She tracked my friend Tom’s Facebook profile. On Tom’s cover page is a photo of his deceased son. The woman went so far as to say,”your kid is dead, how many others around you have died because of your behavior?” Tom was floored. The hate of this woman is overpowering.

I am still a little worked up over the incident. At the base of it all I know that we were on private property. But we weren’t hurting anyone, she had initially told us it was ok after all.

In the world I grew up in, shelter is given to strangers in duress, comfort is given to the weary and respect is paid to all until it is deemed unworthy. I have never been treated like that and I hope never to be again.

My mind is whirling with new and creative ways to get back at her, including filing a police report against her. I’m not sure what it will accomplish but it may make her think twice before she treats otherwise decent, respectful people like the piece of shit that she sees every day in the mirror.

membership has its priveleges

When I was in college I had a good friend who graduated a year ahead of me. Mark was a commuter student like myself and we both worked at the local supermarket to pay for our meager existences. While I wasn’t the best with money, Mark was extremely frugal and extracted a good amount of living from a meager income. It wasn’t lost on him that we joked about his “frugality”. Behind the jeers, I admired his discipline.

Imagine my surprise when one night in 1990, Mark rolls up in a mint 1984 Corvette (yes, the first year of the new body style). We all got to talking and before any of us could extract from him what he paid for it, Mark offered that he paid too much at too high a rate of interest and he didn’t care. Because this was in such stark contrast to his frugal persona we were all very surprised and vocalized it. His answer?
“I’ve always wanted one and I told myself that when I graduated I was buying one, regardless of the cost.”

It’s funny the things you remember. Especially when you imitate it yourself 30 years later.

I have always wanted a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle. My love of motorcycles is well-documented. Any bike is a beautiful thing, wind therapy is the same no matter what you are on. But there’s something special about the American Icon Harley Davidson. The trademark rumble, the magnificent yet classic style and the memories of my Dad and his series of bigger and more beautiful models have always been at the forefront of my mind.
But I could never justify the cost.
2 years ago I celebrated my divorce by buying a motorcycle. The idea was Verboten in my marriage for financial and safety reasons ( my wife knew about the accident in ’87 that almost killed me) so once divorced I had to. It was a small Honda that served me well for a year as I got my skills back. I soon upgraded to a larger bike, a Yamaha 950. Before purchasing, I perused the row of Harley’s but they were too expensive. As I signed the Purchase and Sale it felt good but not great, I really wanted the Harley.
The Yamaha lasted a year. Last week, while in a funk over a girl and life in general I needed to do something for me. I needed something to love. To fixate on. To distract me from the factors in my life that were chapping my ass. I desperately wanted something to make me happy. Want became need and before I knew it I was at the dealer discussing trade in values.

I had gone there looking at a 2015 Heritage Softail but once I saw it in person I wasn’t impressed with the condition. I quickly moved down the line and BOOOM there it was, a 2014 Fat Boy Lo Softail with 4000 miles. This bike was immaculate.
I fell in love and drove off with it that day.

Despite my love of all that is Harley, I had never ridden one. All I can say is that there is a difference. Everything feels different, better. The feel of the road, the rumble of the pipes, the ogling of young children and jealous soccer dads, it’s all as advertised.

As a rider I joined an exclusive club. Bikers are a tight bunch. Hailing from all walks of life we all share our love of the open road and the comraderie it entails. We have each other’s back. Having a Harley is not a pre requisite for membership. All types and models are welcome. But again, there’s something about the Harley.

I’ve been riding almost non stop for a week. I have no plans to stop until the snow flies. Behind the bars of this bike is where I am meant to be. It was always my goal. I wanted it so bad it became a need. A manageable one, my payment only went up a bit. So worth it.

An added bonus, I feel as if my father is riding beside me with a proud smile from ear to ear. I have to rely on imagination because it is one thing I never got to do with him.

I’m getting better at this

The text came through last night.
“We REALLY have to talk.”
My first reaction was a silly one. I thought to myself noone really NEEDS to talk. My second reaction was to marvel at how silly and funny I am. But my third reaction was a little more profound. I realized that I was faced with what will certainly be another in a long string of rejections as I walk the path towards finding a soulmate and, amazingly, I don’t care.
I’m getting better at this.

It’s been a long time coming. Everyone knew she wasn’t going to come around. Especially her. To her credit, she wasn’t the aggressor. I was. I thought that I could make her feel things she said she wasn’t ready for. I couldn’t. And by the contents of her cryptic text she is probably going to tell me tonight.
I’m ready.
So ready she doesn’t even need to say it. But she will.
“Let’s be friends.”
I almost want to text her not to bother. There is very little chance that I am wrong about the impending conversation and that she is going to profess her undying love for me. Not the way things have been lately. I know the signs. But I suppose I should let her get it out. It may make her feel better to tell me everything that I did wrong over the last few months. Why deny her the process? Let her dump me.
I’m getting really good at being on the other end of that conversation.
In fact, I’m a fucking PRO.

I think it’s time to rip the old heart out of my chest and hang it on a hook. Save the next one the trouble. That may be the only way to keep it from further damage. I’ll hang my dick next to it, after all I’m not using that either. I think I’m done.
If I never hear the words “let’s be friends” again it will be too soon. I have enough fucking friends.

What do I need a woman for anyway?
I have internet porn to poorly stand in for actual intimacy.
I have television to remind me what a relationship looks like.
I have friends to be jealous of for their health, wealth and success.
I have my motorcycle to take to bars to eat and drink alone, comfortable that I will not be approached by strange women.
I now have no reason to shave my beard or dress up.
I can refine my greatest skill…being alone.

Perfect

The “Friend Zone”

I’ve been away. For way too long.

You know it’s been awhile when other bloggers reach out to you in the comments section to see if you’re ok. It’s quite the testament to the blogosphere when that happens. It occurred to me that, given my readers’ familiarity with my health issues, people assumed the worst. So I am here to tell you that I am doing physically well and still the best specimen in the clinic, although that isn’t saying a hell of a lot. Emotionally…not so much.

Like most great stories, this one starts with “About a girl…”

I met her through a friend. The bestie of my buddies new wife. When I met her she had a boyfriend. With this news I kept a careful, yet smitten eye on her. As luck, fate or divine providence would have it, she broke up with her guy the night that I met her. I was cautiously excited. A few days later the friend request came in. Soon, we were talking on the phone every night. She wanted us to get to know each other. So we did.

In what I now think of as a dumb move, I asked her to have dinner. That’s where it went south. Why?, you may ask. The answer is simple, I thought it was a date and she didn’t.

We had a great time. We had a wonderful conversation over dinner. She told me a lot about herself. In particular she spoke of how she wasn’t ready for a relationship. She said it so many times that I should have listened.
I didn’t.
I must have thought that I could “turn” her with my unrelenting charm. As the evening went on, I thought I had changed her mind. What had really happened is that she drank enough wine to temporarily knock down her walls. Experiencing emotions I hadn’t experienced in years, I failed to recognize that it was the booze talking.

The next day was awkward. The one after that even more so. I quickly learned that there were two of her. The drunk one had a far more favorable opinion of me. Sober girl was pushing back. Hard.

She wasn’t ready. That’s the takeaway. We’ve seen each other several times. In this Virus crazy world, going out is difficult. I mostly went to her house and stayed in the guest room. Mostly, we texted and talked on the phone. I have to say, I lit up whenever I saw a text from her. I was smitten. Until I noticed that I was always the one initiating conversation.

I began to scrutinize her responses and her language. I noticed that any attempts at intimacy, ranging from “I miss you”, and “you’re special to me” were met with a generic “thank you”. I asked her about it finally. She wasn’t able to address such comments because she’s not ready. She knew that I was in a different place than her and asked me if we could just “hang out” and let her figure out if she wants a relationship. It wasn’t ideal but I wanted to spend time with her. So I agreed.

We hung out a bit in recent weeks. Occasionally I slipped up and treated her like a girlfriend. The pushback was incredible. And frustrating. I was firmly stuck in the “friend zone” and that’s where I think I’m going to stay.

The girl she is when she drinks loves me. She’s affectionate and lovable. Sober girl apparently feels different.

Thursday night I told her it wasn’t working for me. I don’t know where we are headed now. We haven’t talked since. I really don’t know how I feel about it. But the confusion and mixed messages have consumed my life for months.

I should have listened.

I’m crazy about her but I have to prepare for life without her.

She’s not ready.

the son of a thief

This is part of a small series but it can also stand on its own. If you would like to catch up it would honor me, the first post is called Inconspicuous absence, the second the 4th of July, the third is called The sewing machine and the curio cabinet.

A year into middle school my Uncle died. He came home shitfaced one night, began yelling at everyone in sight, when he collapsed on the floor. A massive aneurism had gone to his brain. I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t elated at the news.

now that you’re caught up, here we go…

It was difficult for me to reconcile my feelings when my uncle died. I hate to say it, but yea…elated covers it. I was a mixed-up 13 year old kid and I lacked maturity. I was relieved that a man that I hated out of personal experience and a steadfast devotion to my father (and the truth) was gone. I was happy at the prospect of being able to see my cousin and hang out on Railroad Avenue again. Unfortunately, I had only considered my angle. My selfishness had clouded my judgment. I hadn’t considered how my cousin felt about it.

All of my cousins were devastated. To this day I struggle with reconciling how powerful the paternal bond is and how they could love a man like my Uncle. The comparison’s are easy, I just had to compare him to my own father. My Uncle was mean, violent, closed off and capable of some pretty white-trash shit; my father, who was not much better off financially, was kind, pleasant and a very decent man. That aside, my cousins were grieving. Little did I know that part of their grief would be to “dig in” on the lie. I would soon find out that I still wasn’t welcome on Railroad Ave.

I was the unwelcome son of a thief.

My mother had a theory, which she shared with me during a moment of despondence. Jealousy. My father, and this is not an opinion, was the only success story in the family. Margie married a poor man with little earning potential and remained in the poor home with uneven floors and plastic on the windows that she, Ellie and Dad grew up in. Ellie was destined to live with her parents forever. Dad, on the other hand joined the military, got a good job when he got out, married his high school sweetheart and bought a house. In support of her theory, she told me that we were regarded as “lucky”, and “the rich ones”. I found this amusing, we were stable and I never wanted for anything, but we were lower middle class at best.

I saw Mike at school. He took the loss of his father really hard and I left him to it. I don’t think he fully understood my contempt for his father and when he talked of him it was all I could do to put on a fake and sympathetic face. It was a tough time for me as well. I thought that once the Wicked Dick of the West was gone, everything would be great. That was not to be the case. Even if Mike welcomed my family on Railroad Ave, the rest of the family did not.

The sewing machine and the curio cabinet


This is part of a small series but it can also stand on its own. If you would like to catch up it would honor me, the first post is called Inconspicuous absence and the second the 4th of July.

Once it was determined that my drunk Uncle was not to be calmed down by anyone, I was grabbed by the arm and we quickly left. I had absolutely no idea what had happened but what I did know was that it wasn’t good.I certainly didn’t know that it would be the most formative moment of my childhood.

Now that you’re caught up, here we go.

The Sewing machine

Have you ever seen a TV show in which the scene is a car pulling away and all you see is a child in the rear view looking out the rear window in disbelief, exaggerated by hands in the window?
Well, that was me.
I had just been ripped out of one of my favorite places after watching my father get into a shouting match and endure an expletive-laden verbal onslaught over something that he was as confused about as I. Of course, he at least knew what the accusation was. I myself did not. Until mom sat me down.

My drunk uncle had accused my father of stealing a rare gold coin.

The whole thing was incomprehensible to me. There were two glaring improbabilities of this situation. First of all, my father was not a thief. Nobody would ever believe that. Additionally, I don’t believe that he ever had it. If he did, he would of drank or gambled it away. Yet, he pursued his campaign against my family with fury, vitriol and astounding longevity. It would be years of threats against us and his family should they betray him and have contact with us.

I felt awful for my father and I was angry on behalf of him. He was deeply hurt and it was hard for me to watch as he processed it. I was also sad that I had lost my childhood hangout and most important, I had lost access to my cousin Mike. It felt as if I had lost my best friend. To make it worse, I had no idea at that time how long it would go on or how bad it would get. What I did know was that my Uncle wasn’t letting it go. His anger and resentment would begin with forbidding his wife and kids from speaking to any of us, the punishment was explicitly clear. He would beat them. He threatened to kill my father. Months would turn into years and his anger never subsided. It would result in my father eventually filing a restraining order against my uncle.

A little about Uncle John. I have tried up to this point to write this as if my cousins were reading it. I want above all to be fair. In that vein, perhaps it is a little unfair to call him my “drunk uncle.” It would be more fair and accurate to call him “that drunk, wife-beating, child-abusing rapist piece of shit Uncle.”

A father of six, Johnny (John Jr), Debbie, Cindy, Greg, Laurie, and Mike, he was a controlling “I’m home, my dinner had better be on the table or there will be hell to pay” alpha asshole. The first anecdote to illustrate this that comes to mind is a story my mother once told me.

My mother is a gifted seamstress. Margie, after years of watching my mother make her own clothes finally asked her to teach her how to sew. My mother loaned her one of her many sewing machines to use. One fall afternoon, as they were at the table sewing, my uncle came home from work. After he stopped at the local watering hole first, of course. He had a pretty good glow on. He entered the kitchen, ignored my mother as he always did, and demanded to know where his dinner was. Margie politely and cautiously told him that she lost track of time and that she would get it in a minute. My uncle picked up the sewing machine in front of her and threw it across the room, shattering a curio cabinet and many of the curios within. Margie stood in horrified disbelief, my mother fled the house and quickly drove home.
It was no accident that the POS picked the curio cabinet as a target. It was a hand me down to Margie and it was dear to her. They were very poor, there weren’t a lot of nice things in the house. He meant to hurt her.
He succeeded.

This pales in comparison to the many beatings he gave her. It was also no surprise to find out later that he sexually abused at least two of his daughters on multiple occasions. I certainly remember the beating he gave Mike when he found out that he and I had secretly gotten together for a game of basketball. Mike shrugged it off. I was horrified.

It was the last time we got together until Middle school. My Uncle couldn’t do anything about that.

A year into middle school my Uncle died. He came home shitfaced one night, began yelling at everyone in sight, when he collapsed on the floor. A massive aneurism had gone to his brain.

I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t elated at the news.


The 4th of July

This is part 2 of a series. It can stand on it’s own or you can honor me by checking out yesterday’s post

Railroad Ave

My home town was incorporated in 1853 but the area was first settled in 1651. The building that is now the Town Hall has an enormous carved granite plaque on its walls dedicated to its founding fathers. My family is represented by 4 brave men, 3 of which died in the Civil War. Equally represented on the wall are the Smith’s (not their real names).

My family was always a presence in town, the Smith’s spread out all over Metropolitan Boston as aggressively as they proliferated in town. It was only inevitable that the two families would one day merge.

In the late 1940’s my Grandparents on my father’s side, along with a few cousins all moved to an uninhabited stretch of land along the abandoned Railroad tracks behind the Fire Station. It was an undesirable lot of land in many ways. On either side of the tracks was wetland that was prone to flooding every Spring. The ground was soft and needed to be fortified to build on. The insects were abominable in the summer. The Fire whistle on the nearby station was devastatingly loud. But the prospect of one family owning a whole street was attractive. Despite the family legacy of my family in town, we weren’t a family of wealth or influence. We were poor. 4 modest dwellings soon went up as 3 cousins I barely knew, and my Grandparents set up residence.

Railroad Avenue was born.

By the time I was born in 1965 my Grandparents had long since moved to the other side of town. Grandpa was forced into early retirement, sick with Emphysema from a lifetime of smoking cigarettes. He wasn’t able to afford the maintenance of a house. Ellie, my father’s youngest sister moved with them and assumed the role of caretaker. Her other sister Margie took over the house with her new husband, my uncle John and would have 6 children. My father had moved out when he joined the Army in 1960.

My parents purchased a home barely 2 miles from Railroad Ave in 1964. Dad was an Oil Burner repair man/Oil delivery driver for a fuel company that coincidentally marked the entrance to Railroad Ave. He would work there until it closed in 1970. Until that point, my earliest memories consisted of my mom and I meeting him after work and walking down Railroad Ave where we would hang out with my cousins. It was a happy time for me, my earliest memories are of playing with my youngest cousin Mike, who was my age. Learning to ride a bike on the puddle-ridden dirt road of Railroad Ave remains one of my happiest moments. The many cheers of the large group of beloved family members still echo in my head. This would be indicative of most warm summer days of my childhood. Until July 4th, 1974 when it all came crashing down.

July 4th was a standing holiday on Railroad Ave. Despite being avid campers in the summer we were always there. Family and friends showed up with coolers of beer, armloads of food and enough fireworks to level the town. For nine-year old me, it was the best day of the year. We ran around like heathens, played wiffleball and watched the legendary horseshoe tournament that almost always came down to my dad and one of my older cousins.

On this particular 4th of July the horseshoe tournament was interrupted by my uncle John, who came tearing out of the house yelling for my father. When he located him, he pushed my dad and began screaming about how my dad “stole it.” When pressed for details and a rational explanation he continued to attempt to fight my father, who fended him off admirably. A shouting match ensued, sides were taken and the day was inexplicably ruined for all. Once it was determined that my drunk Uncle was not to be calmed down by anyone, I was grabbed by the arm and we quickly left. I had absolutely no idea what had happened but what I did know was that it wasn’t good.

I certainly didn’t know that it would be the most formative moment of my childhood.