A Piece of Advice

Calvin’s dad was an asshole, well at least that is how Calvin had always thought of him.  Calvin didn’t have a lot of evidence to support this opinion, but to be fair that was the biggest support of this opinion.  His father, almost never was around.  He had abandoned Calvin’s mother mere weeks before Calvin was born, he showed up a few years later, mostly to fight with Calvin’s mom and to ignore Calvin.  This was something that would happen every sixteen to twenty-four months.  Calvin’s dad would show up at the door, would need a place to stay for a few nights and fight with Calvin’s Mom.  Worse was Calvin would have to give up his room and move into the scary old basement of the house, on to an old futon, the cushion beaten totally flat.

Calvin would hear the doorbell and see the tall man with his thick beard and dark hair, his dark demon like eyes and large hands, and instantly start cleaning his favourite stuff out of his room in a huff.  His father didn’t offer him much when he came, not a gift for missed birthdays or a promise to take him to a ball game, shit the guy couldn’t even be bothered to play catch in the yard.  They would sit down for dinner and his father might bestow him some of his horse shit advice.

“Boy, don’t eat yellow snow.  A father has to offer practical advice.”  was his favourite one, as if this offering would lead Calvin to success.  Calvin didn’t even know what his dad did for a living.  He must have worked with his hands, they were always dirty and dry.  Often covered in small cuts, his skin always a dark tanned colour.  His voice was gruff, mostly from the fact the bastard smoked a pack a day.  That was another set of fatherly advice Calvin remembered. “I smoke the full strength green death cigarettes, because if something is worth doing it is worth doing right, don’t ever do something the pussy way.” He would spend his time drinking beers and laughing at his own wit, which to Calvin was actually severely lacking.

As Calvin grew older he learned to hate the man more and more.  When he was a teenager he would mix the normal teenage angst with the hatred of his father.  He despised the kids with normal families who loved their fathers and had good relationships.  But he saved his vitriol for when the old man showed up.  He told his father off when he showed up.  The prick would tell him “Son, if you want a shot at the belt have at her, but you should make the first one a good one because it might be the last shot you get.”  Calvin didn’t want to fight him. He wanted his father to show him some care and concern but he never would.  Calvin craved the love of a father, the love he saw at his friends’ houses.  He wanted a father who took him to bonding experiences and got mad at him when he skipped school, but instead he had this asshat.

Calvin sat on the hard wooden bench alongside his mother, chaffing in his shirt and tie.  He looked around the sparsely populated room and chuckled realizing it was a reflection of how few people actually liked his father.  But still he couldn’t help himself, the tears welled inside him and the odd one squeaked out and slowly ran down his face.  He quickly wiped them away, inconspicuously, as to not let anyone know, even his mother.  He thought about all that crappy advice his dad had imparted on him, nothing useful.  Statements like “Son put a beanie on that weenie or you will be stuck paying child support like me.”  Or “Beer before liquor never been sicker, liquor before beer you’re in the clear.” Actually that last one had come in use a couple of times.  Calvin’s shoulders shrugged with his half chuckle, half sob at this little piece of advice.  The old man in front of Calvin leaned back and looked at Calvin sadly, he didn’t know what to say but he handed Calvin an envelope with Calvin’s name on it.  It was the shithead’s father, Calvin’s grandfather although they had never met.

Calvin flipped open the envelope and read the hand written letter.

Calvin,

I know I was the world’s shittiest father, and I know you don’t think much of me.  To be honest you got shafted, I wasn’t meant to be a father and handled it poorly.  So I waited unti now to try to apologize, and I don’t blame you for not coming to visit.  Here is the deal, I know your memory of me is all these stupid little sayings I left you with because I didn’t know how to talk to you. And I am going to have this cancer take me before I ever get to make it up to you.  But the truth is that is ok, I probably never was going to be a good father.  I leave you with one last piece of bad dad advice, knowing I always wanted to love you like the other Dads did but was too much of a coward to do it.

You can live till your’e 100 hundred, but only if you give up all the things that make living worth while.

Live life to its fullest and be a better man than me.

Love,

Your Shitty Dad

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