Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The worst thing

One of the topics on last night's Best Show on WFMU was "What is the worst thing someone has ever said to you?" Strangely, I didn't think of the worst thing (the denial of death in action?), but a more comical instance I've never forgotten from my youth.

Once, when I was around 12 or so, my not particularly mechanically-inclined father enlisted my older brother and me to assist him while changing a tire. Neither of us had ever done this before, so we were hardly any help. Instead of the touching scene of a father demonstrating how this is done to his sons, things disintegrated quickly when my father screwed up something in the process and turned on his sons in the middle of a temper tantrum: "You two are as useless as tits on a bull!" My father is a certified hot head, but surprisingly he's not partial to barnyard epithets. I can honestly say I can't remember him ever dropping the "F Bomb" in my presence. Not only was the comment shocking in its dismissal of us as worthless and in its symmetrical use of the word "tits," a word we had never heard him use before (or since), but it was also kind of funny (although he was clearly not joking around when he screamed it at us). Of course, my brother and I could barely contain ourselves from laughing which only made things worse for us.


Blogger Brian said...

My father too never was profane but had a few standard zingers. Try saying this with a very slight Irish accent:

What's the matter with ya'?
Ya' dumb cluck ya'!
Ya' baboon ya'!

Once I found myself saying the first one to one of my boys and I felt pretty bad. Then I thought, my father was raised by a man born in the 19th c. so this stuff was pretty mild for back then. In the new sensitive dad era that I did my parentng in [the '90s], it was unacceptable.

7:31 PM  
Blogger angelissima said...

Its a strange rite of passage when you realize your parents are just people.

My husband's father was a certified hot head (love that!)

I said to my husband, "hey, if you had his life, you'd be screaming too." He worked a blue-collar job at the Inpection Station checking the exhaust fumes. Imagine breathing fumes all day long? His wife had double masectomy and hysterectomy at the age of, even thought its a horrible thing to say, I'm sure he wouldn't in his wildest dreams imagine he'd be married to a quickly aging women with sans "tits". He hid playboy calendars in his garage under the calendar from Norwood Distributors. They were always struggling to make ends meet. His life basically sucked.

7:29 AM  
Blogger BayonneMike said...

I've never understood the source of my father's outbursts. My grandparents weren't particularly volatile (in fact, my grandfather was pretty laid back). All I know is that the passage of time hasn't changed him at all (not even retirement or the fact that all of his children are grown has made much of a difference). Maybe he's on to something though. Maybe the thing to do when confronted with life's irritations is to pitch a fit, rage, rage against the leg cramp in the middle of the night, the pot that made too loud a sound when my mother dropped it, the bad call by a referee or umpire in a televised sporting event, etc.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Brian said...


Your father was mad at you for disappointing him. He reminds me of my late father-in-law, who reminded me of Thor's half-brother Loki. Thor has just beaten his brother to a pulp, Norse-style, and one of Loki's minions asks him how's he doing. Loki replied, "My hate will sustain me..."

I haven't become my father or even yours, but I happily came home at 7:30 tonight and quickly became pissed, having told the boys last night to get Chinese [their mother is away]. The smaller one said he was "just about to go."

They don't get up until who knows when on a holiday week, so my hungry 7:30 pm is like 4 o'clock to them. The big one actually ate supper at midnight this week. I'm starving, they're still digesting lunch.

I ate leftovers [dogs, tuna, pasta, third-night string beans] and piled a crapload of guilt on them. If I can get one of them to do some dishes out of this, then I'd say, Mission Accomplished.

6:53 PM  

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