I had been edging around this for a while. I had an axe to grind, well, several, but he was no stranger to this game. He had an axe to grind too, he knew an uncomfortable question was bearing on him. Since we never ever spend time together this must finally be the time.
I forget how far in I got. I had some questions about how they had taught me about money. I had a lot of em, but I was being extraordinarily careful. As I said in previous posts, I was engaged deeply in the kingdom of my father, and it was critical that he not quit his job. He’d threatened to do so several times, for increasingly less relevant or meaningful reasons. I had picked one thing that was bothering me, for a really long time. Since high school, when it happened. All I wanted to know was why they thought it was OK to take money out of my savings account and not tell me about it. Why my dad thought it was OK to tell me that I owed him that money for back rent. Why did he intimidate me out of ever asking about it again. Was he just scared, ashamed? Did he really still believe it was OK. Why hadn’t they ever apologized, in all the intervening years. Why didn’t they ever give the money back, directly, acknowledging what they did. It wasn’t much, for an adult. But it was a lot for a kid in high school. But he’s trumped me. As soon as I brought up money I lost.
They’re broke. Again.
The business is losing money, he announces. So help me I’ll quit my job and figure out where it’s all going! He insists, and each time I think we all held our breath. Maybe the others held their breath because they were afraid of what I would say. Maybe I held my breath because I was afraid of what I would say.
There are four television sets upstairs, one plasma and three LED. One of them is in the bedroom, so that the transition to bed happens naturally during commercial breaks. Mom can run upstairs and prepare the sleeping television while dad finishes his last snacks. Two of them are on the exercise room floor, between the unassembled professional massage table, the disused exercising machines. I can see a past due notice from the city jutting from the pile on the second step of the staircase. Sometimes the city turns the water off, and they have to juggle money around to pay off the enormous late fee and balance. If you counted outstanding bills and debt, I bet I could slap 70k before I left the third stair on the staircase – where all their business mail is dumped.
If I ran from the dinner table and just started slapping things, supermarket sweep style, I bet I could hit seventy thousand dollars before I even got to the cars. A seven hundred dollar security camera system on the staircase. A full sized carnival cotton candy machine. A table saw my dad didn’t remember purchasing. There’s a thirteen hundred dollar bicycle. A six thousand dollar sports car that last ran before Obama took office. A mini mill and an oscilloscope. A CNC laser engraving machine. A passthrough soda cooler. A full stained glass production setup. A greenhouse full of potted orchids and violets, identifiable only by their pricing tags still sticking out of the desiccated dirt. These are the ones too big to give up on. The little stuff they’ve wasted money on, that’s all at the goodwill, the real inheritors of the Walker fortune. They drive to the goodwill, drop off $1500 worth of shit in the back. Buy $75 worth of discount garbage in the front, and come home pleased with their bargains. Where is the money going? It’s a whopper of a whodunit, that only Sherlock McBathtub can solve, while he shops for Bose radios on eBay. He’s bested me. I can’t keep going and being careful. He’s enraged me so far I can no longer be delicate. All I can do now is wait until it has been a polite amount of time and leave.
I no longer live here. This isn’t my fight. The people who still depend on this idiot are both here, silent. I can see their worry lines deepening, both of them boozily pilled up to bulwark their mood against this constant storm. They gently sway in their drunken passivity.
I think back to the things he’s proclaimed from here. The king of dinner. CEO dad, at his evening press conference.
“You know what they say, you ruin your kids”
I don’t believe that is anybody’s saying about children no. Not a Doctor Spock line. I don’t think it’s an old country saying either. Nobody authoritative’s blanket opinion that all you can do is ruin children. I’ll update this later if I find out that one of the main points of “It takes a village” is that everyone ruins their kids.
“I’ve found this new financial seminar I want to take it’s called Live Rich, Die Broke!”
This is a constant theme. Dual edged. When my parents feel rich, it is important to them to know that I realize there will be no inheritance of money or estate, that they will be using this money to LIVE LIFE with capital letters and have no patience for some kind of stodgy old estate. At the same time it is important to them to always know that when they are old and infirm that me and my sister will take care of them, in the style they are accustomed to. Living life with all capital letters doesn’t leave any time for picking out elder care options or addressing your own mortality. What it DOES leave time for is spending money to go to a Get This Author Rich Quick seminar, in the hopes that the richer living you might be doing might be even richer still. INSANELY rich maybe. BEYOND ALL DREAMS.
I get into my car, and drive away. Which is all I could think to do. It’s all I can think about now. When should I have said something. When should I have said “You are a fucking asshole.”. When was my teachable moment with these guys. Why is THAT what I’m worried about still. Why is this still about what I should have done for THEM. Every fucking time. It’s about them. Their fucking wanty bullshit. One whispering into each ear, “Oh Aaron we sure wish life were different. I mean not enough to do anything, not a single anything other than unload it into your ulcer-box, but we sure do wish…”
Actually – I dunno what they wish. I no longer pretend to understand either one of them. I guess I assumed that when I turned into a “man” from the chart yesterday, I’d totally understand what these two were up to. I’d understand that what they had been up against had been so incredible that the weird stuff they did to me and to each other was totally normal. But now I’m them. I understand entirely that our situations are wildly different – I was nine years old by the time my dad was my age, but I also understand that paying the bills isn’t that hard. Paying your debts isn’t that hard. Having a job isn’t that hard. Not making your shitty, underdeveloped emotional intelligence everyone elses problem but yours, is NOT that hard. Also, pulling your dick out a lady when you’re not ready to have kids? That’s not that hard either.