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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Remembering The Bad Guys

Looking back, aside from your parents, what early lessons did other adults knowingly or unknowingly teach you?

When recalling the fathers of childhood friends, it's difficult for me to identify specific traits for the fathers I felt comfortable being around. No such difficulty for those who made me uncomfortable. When those men weren't sullen, they were angry. Sullen or angry, they often spoke to my childhood friends with indifference or disdain. More than once I heard a friend called "stupid" or worse. I also vividly recall being embarrassed when one father openly disrespected his wife and then not at all surprised to later learn he was carrying on with a divorcee.

I knew even then my own father was unlike this second group of men. Though he had a temper, only my family saw that side; my friends mostly enjoyed being around him. Although I'm sure it happened, I don't recall my father disrespecting my mother either. They argued, mostly about the four of us or money, but ugly words were usually not part of the deal. Those early lessons I learned from sullen, angry, and disrespectful fathers made me appreciate my father in ways I'm still reflecting on over 50 years later. And here's hoping my daughter's childhood friends will remember being comfortable around me, even if they too can't identify a specific trait of mine to support their memory.

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