Dad threw me out last year after I borrowed his credit card to buy my new computer program. So, I have to tell you, I was happy I was visiting when he called my brothers into his den for what, I could tell by the angry look in his eyes, would be a thorough dressing down. I hovered just outside the door – even after he barked, “Go away, John, this doesn’t concern you, anymore.” After what he’d done to me, I wasn’t going to miss it when he inflicted some of his all-too familiar punishment on my brothers.
“If there are any children in this room,” Dad began in his customary manner, “they should leave, now, and go help their mother in the kitchen. Do we have any children here?”
Dom and Sam squirmed nervously in their seats while Tom just sat there and turned red as a beet. That’s all Tom ever did was turn red.
“I thought so. We’re all adults. So I’m going to talk to you like adults. Your mother and I have spent an awful lot of money on you, lately. We buy your cars. We buy your insurance. We keep a roof over your heads. And what do we ask from you, in return? Not too damn much, I’ll tell you that. The neighbors’ kids would be ecstatic if that had it as good as you. But we do all this for you, and you don’t seem to be the slightest bit concerned about what we want in return. You are out of control.”
“Dad, I think that might be a little strong…” Dom interrupted, but Dad would have none of it.
“You have all day to talk, Dom. And you take full advantage of it. But this is my time and you will not speak until spoken to. Or do you want to move in with John?”
Of course he didn’t want to do that. No one wanted to live where I was living.
“When your mother and I leased those new cars for you last year, do you remember what we asked from you, in return? Anyone?”
Dom glanced quizzically at Sam while Tom just turned a litter redder.
“I didn’t think so because you sure as hell haven’t done it. Last November, your mother and I asked you to do one simple thing for us. We asked you to keep your rooms clean. Does that ring a bell with anyone? Or did you forget all about your promises as soon as we left the dealership? Sam, your mother tried to sweep under your bed this week and she found so many lobbyists there wasn’t room for the dust bunnies. You’re always acting like you’re so clean. How can you live in that kind of squalor?”
“John left them there!” Sam objected. He was always blaming me for things.
“Quit trying to lay stuff on John!” Dad barked. “John’s been gone for over a year, now. Are you telling me you’ve had a whole year to clean up his mess, you still haven’t done it and it’s still his fault?”
“He left a pretty big mess,” Sam mumbled. But Dad was already moving on to the others.
“Dom, I ask you to clean up the filth and what did you do? Propose changes to the distribution of Electoral College votes in 2012? How the hell is that supposed to help our family?”
“Well, clearly, Dad…because of our peculiar demographics…”
“If it’s such a good idea, why aren’t any of our neighbors doing it? Tell me that. Why isn’t the whole country doing it? If you’re so hot about protecting the fundamentals of democracy, why do you draw our districts so no one can win but incumbents? Does that sound like democracy to you?”
“I had good districts. Sam screwed them up!”
“Dom’s a closet liberal!”
“I know you are, but what am I?”
Dad took his meaty fist and pounded it on the table. The boys knew better than to mess with Dad when he was angry and immediately calmed.
“Tom,” Dad sighed, turning to old redface, as the rest of us liked to call him when he couldn’t hear us, “you’re the worst example of all. You convinced Mom and me that we could trust you. Do you remember what you said? You told us, ‘Don’t worry. You put me in charge and you’ll have the cleanest house in town.’ And what did you do after you made that promise? Nothing but fill our yard with ugly gas wells. And you won’t even share the money from them with us. What in the world entitles you to tear up our yard so you can make all this money from drillers and not share it with your family?”
“I need the money for college,” Tom explained. “Since Sam cut all the funding programs…”
“I didn’t do it! Dom did it!” Sam objected.
“Tom started it!” Dom asserted.
“I don’t care who started what,” Dad interrupted before the three of them started throwing fists. “The point is we’re all Republicans and we need to work together for the good of the family. The first thing you boys need to learn is to take responsibility and quite blaming things on each other. With the three of you working together, you should be able to make our house the cleanest one on the block.
“As it is, now, it’s even filthier than when we moved in. Can you explain that to me? We have the filthiest house on the entire street. If you don’t want to get out the vacuum as soon as we’re finished, here, you better be prepared to explain to me why this mess shouldn’t be your responsibility…Well?”
As I watched the three of them squirm, it almost made me grateful to be living in my cozy, one-room apartment rather than having to deal with the wrath of our father. Almost.
Recognizing the gravity of their situation, Tom, Dom and Sam briefly sat aside their differences and I watched them furtively whisper to each other as they struggled to come up with an excuse that would save them from the horrors of household drudgery. They liked to talk about their clean house. But actually cleaning it, themselves, was another thing, entirely. Finally they exchanged confident nods before turning toward Dad and speaking as one.
“The Democrats did it!”
Photo by Gerg1967
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