Father’s Day

Here’s the card that I got my dad for Father’s Day.

Three years ago?  Maybe four?  I’m quite the procrastinator.

Yeah, still in the plastic sleeve.

I sometimes wonder what The Cats In The Cradle would sound like if written from the son’s perspective.


Probably because as I’ve been procrastinating what to write to my dad on his Father’s Day card, I was trying to think of early memories of dad and struggled to do so.  Of course, that’s not surprising with my memory.

Side Bar: earlier this week I found myself chuckling at how accurate the phrase “killing a few brain cells” was as shorthand for drinking.

Anyway, that was about when The Cats In The Cradle popped onto my mental jukebox.  It’s been knocking around ever since.

What wasn’t surprising was that I never really associated that song with my dad.  He had a pretty good work/life balance.  As a matter of fact, when he did have to work on weekends when I was a kid it was a treat for me to go to work with him.  

In a fit of Harry Chapin irony, I’ll be working today while the rest of the family is out to brunch with dad and grandpa.  

But when I got to go to work with him, it was a strangely exciting environment.  He was an engineer and the offices were usually darkened except for his office, lending a feeling of isolation to the day…like we were the only two people on the planet. Sometimes his boss or a co-worker would also pop in, but usually it would just be the two of us and I would play with his drafting tools while he worked.

One time as we pulled up, I was amazed to see a battered old airplane fuselage in the yard of his company – he worked for a pipe manufacturer and apparently the fuselage was bought for scrap metal.  I don’t know if this is something that my child’s imagination and sense of wonder filled in or not, but I remember associating the old aircraft with a recent news story about a plane crash.  It gives the whole working weekend with dad thing a further sense of adventure in my memory.

One of my other random childhood memories of dad was one of the few snow days we had as a kid.  Dad – I’m sure for the sake of mom’s sanity – had taken us boys out to play in the snow.  Somehow – probably I innocently pegged dad with a surprise snowball, the real surprise being I threw something and hit a target – dad ended up chasing me around, both of us laughing like maniacs.  Dad had eventually caught me, obviously, and we’re both laughing; I’m trapped…he’s holding me facing away from him, feet dangling a few inches off the ground and he’s feeding me a snowball that I didn’t order.

And we’re laughing and laughing and laughing like maniacal popsicles.  It was a good day.  Especially for me, since I’m not the outdoorsy type.  I’m sure that’s why it stayed with me.  I was more the stay inside and study or watch Gillian’s Island type of kid versus the athletic type like my siblings.

I remember when I got my first “real” job.  No more picking berries during the summer for me, now I was a man with a real job!  Must’ve been maybe 14 or so?  No…had to have been younger.  Maybe I was in the seventh grade?  How old are kids then?

Anyway, I was hired by the golf course down the road to shag and clean balls – shut up, Diezel – at the driving range.

Yeah, I was the target.

And I felt so cool!  It was obviously a new sensation for me.

Anyway, I’d been hired to take over for the owner’s son when he went away to school.  It was great!  Again, not being outdoorsy or sportsball-inclined, this was a big deal to me.  This helped connect me to both my dad and grandfather, since golf was his favorite pastime.  

Oops, is his favorite pastime.  

I got fired.

I walked into the so-called Pro Shop one afternoon for work and the owner was behind the counter and just says he doesn’t need me anymore, it’s not working out and he’s gonna have to let me go.

I was pretty shocked.

I rode my bike home kind of in a daze.  This is one of those weird times as a kid where something fairly traumatic happened to my kid self and I kind of logically processed my feelings but as soon as I hit my driveway, I just reverted to traumatized kid mode and started bawling.

Not for nothing, it turned out that my dad hears my literal sob story and takes off to the golf course.

How fucking awesome is that?

Dad takes off out of the driveway to give that mean old golf course dude what for!

For me!

He comes home a little later, I think the real  story ended up being…guess who came home from school for the summer?

What a dick move.  But dad had sorted that situation for me and – while still sad at losing my cool job – salvaged my shredded dignity and sense of self-worth.

It was heroic to my barely teenaged self.

Luckily, dad was there to support me during my transition back to the Summer berry-picking workforce.  It wasn’t the last time I’d find myself between jobs and not the last time dad was there to help minimize the struggle between paychecks.

I know I’m lucky.

Probably my favorite memory of dad wasn’t a specific memory, rather, it was a time in my life.

An era, if you will.  And it’s my blog, so you will.

It was when we both lived in SoCal.  

The LBC.  

Belmont Shore, specifically.

Mom and dad had separated.  Mom and the rest of the kids were back in Portland.  Dad was single.  I was coming out.

We lived just blocks from each other.  I was young, moving around often.  Dad was in his idyllic little stucco building on St Joseph.  Still, we were never more than a few blocks away…it was like a tether, living that close to my dad as a nascently independent adult.

We’d run into each other at the local convenience store…the 7-eleven, the Murder Mart, the AM/PM.  Me:  buying Super Big Gulps for the day at the beach; him:  Coors Light or lottery tickets.

Hey, we both have faith in the lottery, ok?

We never ran into one another at bars, obviously, but we each had our neighborhood haunts.  His:  Legends; mine: Ripples.  As a matter of fact, I can scarcely remember running into him once at a restaurant.  It’s just the vaguest of memories.  

Maybe it’s a false repressed memory.  Who knows?  But for not running into each other while eating, dad made a point of being fairly consistent about having a standing dinner or lunch date with me.  We’d meet weekly and go to breakfast at Chuck’s on the beach – still my nostalgia dive favorite breakfast place.  Or we’d go to Hof’s Hut for lunch.  Or maybe SuperMex for dinner.

It was nice.

I never felt like it was dad taking me out.  I felt more like I was getting to know him as a man.  Maybe he felt the same way…a lot had changed with us both.

It’s when I feel like I became friends with my father.  That’s why that era is such a fondly treasured time for me.

It’s funny, I don’t really consider my father to have any resemblance to the ne’er around father from that Harry Chapin classic, obviously.  I do think I’m damn lucky to be able to say I’ve grown up to be even a hint of the person that is my father.

And, who knows?  Maybe next year I’ll mail the damn card.  Baby steps.

Father’s Day

Who Knew It Was Gonna Be One Of Those Days?

…and I mean one of those weekends, really.

glenne-headly-dirty-rotten-scoundrels-1988I was on my way home from work yesterday when I read the news that Glenne Headly had died.

Say what now?

She couldn’t have been that old.

<opens google>

“62?!?”, I think.

Then – I kid you not – my next thought is, “Lucky.”




I’ll tell ya what the hell, I’m staring down 50 this year and I’m conflicted about a long life versus going out possibly early with a high quality of life.

I think I’ve got 50 in my cross hairs like this:aliens-ripley-geared-up

But, I think sometimes it’s more realistically this:sigourney-weaver-as-ellen-ripley-in-alien

What’s a gay to do?  This is not the culture for Oldie Hawns, and – let’s face it – America ain’t getting greater these days.  That doesn’t just impact my patriotic identity…in this case, it’s a factual planet killer.  By extension, a long-lived Xtopher can potentially look forward to some Thunderdome bullshit in his longevity.

Then I think of my parents.

They’ve both crested their eighth decade on this dying rock, call it their early 70s.  They remarried after 20-some years of divorce.  While that’s a story that I’m sure they would say is none of my business to tell, I’m not thinking of that particular life event or even that time in their lives in this particular moment.  What comes to mind isn’t their first marriage or even their second.

It’s the time betwixt.

When my parents originally split up, we were assembled in California.  My father having pre-located there for a job, my mother and the kids joining after the school year ended for her two youngest.  I joined in the move.  For reasons I won’t bore you with here.

Other than:  California.

Being California, and divorce being trendy…Bob’s your uncle – or at least your divorce lawyer – I guess, they split up a year-ish after the SoCal reunion.

Mom took off back to the fairer pastures of Oregon with…oh, every one of her chirrun but me, also because:  California.

What’s an early 20s newly minted gay to do?

It was a decision that was quite beyond my control.

Ironically, I ended up living only blocks from my dad in SoCal, so I had a good seat as to how he stared down his own demons in his 40s.

I’ll be damned if it wasn’t quietly, as is his style.  While simultaneously doing what needed to be done.

He sure as fuck didn’t start a poorly-trafficked blog.  You know, sharing this on your social media pages would hardly kill you people.  I’m just gonna leave that hanging.

I had a chance to change my geographic scenery a few times in my early and mid-20s, be it for the wrong reasons – like a boy – or for slightly less easily judged reasons – like work – and ended up back in Oregon.

The prodigal gay.

That gave me the opportunity to witness how my mother stared down her own adversaries in her 40s.

Well, she’s my Ellen Ripley.  That same quiet acceptance of what must be done that my father demonstrated, but with the additional obstacle of responsibilities like – oh, no big deal – being a single mother.

I don’t know when this turned into some sort of vague-albeit-late Mother’s Day card or a slightly early Father’s Day post…but, well, sometimes my digressions can give you a little insight into the people – the real people – that shaped who I am.

Don’t make it weird, people.

Anyway, my psyche checks me when that unbidden “Lucky” pops into my head over Glenne Headly’s death with a “What the fuck, you little wuss…buck up.  Your shit is nothing like your parents’!”

And, so I buck uply and put dear Glenne out of my head-ly.

Sorry about that.

You know what fuckery I am met with the following day?  The reward for shoring myself up as all things nearly 50 converge on my weak-assed self?

Any guesses?

Here’s a little hint:Launch Party For The "Family Guy" Game

Adam West.


Not to mention a killer caricature of himself.


Aged 88.

And still cooler than I ever will be.  Just look at that bad ass.

My weak-assed little self’s least favorite counterpart – my self-bullying-snarky-assed self – was right on point to ask the big question, “Do you think your parents hear this news and think, ‘Lucky’?” because he had to live soooo long?

“No.  They probably fucking don’t, because they had to work for what they have:  a comfortable retirement in which to enjoy their family and each other – reconciliation after two decades of divorce is a goddamned gift, albeit an in the moment costly one – they didn’t have their shit handed to them by fame…so buck up, Buttercup.”

Sometimes I just want to punch my snarky-assed self in the balls.  Other times, I’m sure most everyone else does.

Looking at you, Silver Fox.

Knowing my parents, they probably think something more along the lines of, “Poor Bastard” because, while his death will be mourned by the fans accrued over the course of decades of Batman notoriety, they measure their success not in fans or dollars, but rather in their shared pride in the family they built and will leave behind.

Whatever legacy Adam and Glenne leave behind, we – as adoring and appreciative fans – cannot measure or judge the pride they leave behind for their own families; merely in the absence of their future celluloid impact.  What I’ve learned from my family…parents, grandparents, extended family and chosen family, is that that’s the yardstick.

Right there.

The so called wake of your existence.

So, I’ll get up tomorrow and honor the example that real people set for me and set aside this morose nostalgia for people I’ve not met and live a life that will make my parents proud.


As quietly as grumpy, old Xtopher can, anyway.

Who Knew It Was Gonna Be One Of Those Days?