Friday, February 22, 2013

Shit My Dad Says- Hobo Bill Strikes Again

My dad has officially worn out his welcome with every single member of my family except for me. I mean, he's worn it out with me too, but I'm too nice to show it as blatantly as everyone else does.

In particular, my sister April recently decided that she couldn't deal with him anymore, told him off in spectacular fashion, and ignores him like 90% of the time now. That being said, when she was invited to come visit by our uncle that my dad is currently living with, she decided to make the 2 hour trip to visit our extended family. My dad told me that April would be visiting, and asked if I would come too.

I really didn't want to go. And so, I layered a little bit of truth and a little bit of exaggeration on him. I told him I couldn't really afford the gas and tolls to make the trip. And I couldn't, really. I'm a recently single mother, thank you very much. Sometimes I'm broke.

It got weird when my dad called me a few days later, and then again another couple of days after that, asking about my money situation. If I was okay. If I needed any money. I responded with the verbal equivalent of shrugging my shoulders. "Eh, you know. I'm always broke". The thing about my dad is that he's like Willy Goddamned Wonka in the Chocolate Factory when he has money. And by "has money" I mean, "is currently collecting unemployment even though he hasn't had a real, on-the-books job in like at least 5 fucking years, wait, excuse me? Why the fuck do you get to collect unemployment, because you just almost turned me into a Republican when you said that?". He gets all manic and jolly, but with a certain uneasiness where you know the facade could slip away at any moment. But hey, he's there, and he's smiling and he's got lickable wallpaper so I guess it's better than the LSD boat rides he likes to take you on when he's depressed.

Anyway. This past Wednesday he came to visit me after work. He shuffled in and I noticed he was carrying a plastic jar.

Ok. Side bar on the plastic jar. When I say plastic jar, what are you imagining, exactly? Maybe an old water jug, or some sort of Tupperware container? I mean, sure, I didn't give you a hell of a lot of context on "plastic jar", but I feel like those are the sorts of things that are going to pop into your head. What isn't going to pop into your head? THIS:

Yeah. That is a one gallon drum, previously filled with the blue cheese dressing of his former employer. Are you wondering what it's filled with now? Change. Specifically, it contained $142 in an assortment of quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies, and- AND- most importantly, half dollar and dollar coins.

Let me explain. This is not a normal change jar. Even if you put aside the fact that he chose a vat of dressing as his piggy bank, this is not an accumulation of $142 worth of the everyday loose change from his pockets over the course of a few months. No.

You know how if you offer a young child a choice between a $1 bill and 4 quarters, they will almost always pick the quarters? Because even though the value is the same, the quarters SEEM like more money to them? That is how my dad is. Except that he is turning 60 this year and he's still eternally fascinated by change. He will take his real, grown-ass man paper bills (that he seriously needs to pay his real, grown-ass man neverending debts), and go to the bank and trade them in for change. He will specifically ask for half dollar and dollar coins, because he thinks they are OMGSOCOOLOMG. He will say to the bank teller "Give me as many as you have! I collect coins!" You know the problem with "collecting" coins when you are too poor to live? You run out of money and then you are the fucking weirdo at the Walmart paying for deodorant in change out of a gallon sized jar of salad dressing.

When he started telling me the exact value of each denomination of coins in his jar ("I didn't have anything to do this morning so I counted them"), I started giggling like a maniac at his utter lunacy. Then he showed me his "collection" of $2 bills. In his wallet (where else would he keep a collection of MONEY? Der.). $14 dollars worth of $2 bills. You guys? Math, ok. That is SEVEN $2 bills. That + $50 in quarters = money aficionado right there. He even had another $2 bill at home. I mean, he could have totally just been bragging, but I believe him. People like him don't need to lie about their accomplishments. He even gave one of the $2 bills to Caitlyn, and, I mean, if he was lying about that extra one at home, that would mean he only possessed $12 in $2 bills, and really, what the fuck is THAT? Nothing, peasants. $14 is the minimum to gain notoriety as a collector.

It came to a point where I had to ask (again), "Why, dad. Why do you insist on cashing in your money for change?". Naturally, he had infallible logic on his side, once again:

Dad: You know, those coins can be worth a lot of money

Me: ...

Dad: No really, there's a 1964 blah-blah-donkey-fuck quarter that's worth $2! (I may have paraphrased).

Me: Oh yeah. $1.75 profit. Big money. How many of those do you have, by the way.

Dad: Oh, well, I checked all these quarters and there weren't any.

Me: So none then, collector?

Dad: The $2 bill I have at home is worth $10.

Me: ...

Dad: Some of the half dollars are worth $2 too.

Me: We just discussed this.

Dad: And you know, those silver dollars... you put 10 of those in a sock and carry it around with you. Anyone tries to mess with you, you can smack them in the face with it (you guys. This is not embellishment for the sake of the story. He literally said these words and did not understand for even a moment why they were insane).

Me: Oh dear sweet baby Jesus, save me.

Then he proceeded to dump out his entire jar of change and count it in front of me. When I wouldn't stop mocking his salad dressing jar, he told me his big plan for Christmas. Yes. In fact, his "big plan for Christmas" involves 1 gallon salad dressing jars (JARS- plural). And change. Naturally. He has 4 of them in his car, you see. And he's going to fill them all up with change and wrap them up in paper and a bow, and each of his GROWN ADULT OFFSPRING, WITH JOBS AND GODDAMN BANK ACCOUNTS AND A MODICUM OF NORMALCY DESPITE HIS VERY EXISTENCE, WILL RECEIVE A STINKY JAR FULL OF CHANGE FOR CHRISTMAS. I mean, isn't that the "spirit of the season" everyone always talks about at Christmas? Being broke enough to pay for things in change and then dousing your stress in high fat foods? Yup. Nailed it, dad. Fucking nailed it.

Anyway. Then he told me, since he knows I'm super broke, that I could keep his $142 in change. And you know what? I absolutely fucking kept it.

Monday, February 4, 2013

To Be A "Kid Person"

There are two kinds of people in this world: Kid People and Normal People.

You see, I kind of object to the idea that anyone would say that they just across-the-board LOVE kids. The self-identifiers. The people who say things like "every child is a precious miracle from God". I mean, really,  you like every kid? Have you never met an asshole kid? Because I have. And I definitely don't like them at all.

I mean, some people are more naturally inclined to caring for children. My mom is one of those people. If you asked her, I think she would absolutely say she's a kid person. And she's the one exception that I will make here. Because as much as my mom has a fantastic nature towards kids and the fact that every single child she encounters loves her immediately, I've also heard her express her distaste for certain children. She won't hesitate to call out an ugly baby (I mean, not to the parents, obviously) or an asshole toddler, or a rude 8 year old. She's not absolutely indiscriminate. And she sure as shit doesn't call every little troll-kid a "miracle". My mom understands that some kids are just not going to mesh with her personality, even if MOST of them do.

I guess the thing that bothers me most about the self-identifiers though, is the pressure it puts on people who don't feel the need to try to superbond with every single kid who crosses their path. When you find yourself in the company of that person who tries so hard to be every kid's favorite, proclaiming their love indiscriminately to every slimy, slobbering little stink beast, I suppose you can't help but wonder if there is some fundamental flaw in your genes, some lack of maternal instinct on your part that is stopping you from wanting to hold every child in your arms and tell them they're special.

Here's the thing about maternal instinct though: it's meant for YOUR kid, not someone else's. Not giving any fucks about other people's kids does not mean you don't have it in you to love your own.

Sometimes though, as a non-self-identifier, you will find that you do bond with someone else's kid. You will find that despite all your notions that you probably don't even like kids that much, you actually enjoy spending time with one of them. And it's not just that you like them. Inexplicably, they like you too! They ask to go to your house. They play play-doh with you and laugh at your jokes and think the sun shines out your ass. They think you are awesome even if you can't seem to figure out why.

My point is that sometimes you need the unfiltered view of a two year old to make you see how awesome you are and that you are more than capable of being a good mom some day.