Saturday, March 26, 2005

Good Friday? Says who?

I guess I never paid enough attention in Sunday school when I was a kid. Why would Christians refer to the day their messiah was executed as Good Friday? That just doesn't seem to make much sense.

This Friday I shall dub Odd Friday. It was just an odd day. My daughter and I went to the video store to return some DVDs rented a couple of days ago when one of her friends spent the night. On the way back to my daughter's house, we got into a very odd conversation. At least it seemed odd for me, as an absentee father, to be having this chat with my not yet 14 year-old female daughter.

First let me preface this by saying this was a follow-up to a something that happened the night before. My daughter was chatting online and her mother watched in to the room where the computer was. The word blowjob was on the screen, and her mother, appropriately I thought, put an end to her chat session and may prohibit her from chatting for some as yet undefined period of time. Now, this word was in the message sent to my daughter, not in the message she sent out. But still, it is a bit inflammatory to see a word like that on a young teenage girl's IM message.

So, Friday my daughter brought up how her mom was "pissed" at her and didn't want to push her luck by asking to hang out with a guy friend on Friday. So I asked, "You understand why your mother was so pissed don't you?" To which daughter replied, in a typically defensive teen manner: "I didn't do anything wrong."

OK, I was a master at the I didn't do anything wrong, so I didn't let the conversation end there. Secondly, that was not an answer to my question. But the stunner to me was, in the ongoing conversation the word blowjob came out of my daughter's mouth, not once, but twice.

Perhaps this was so unsettling to me because I never talked about blowjobs with either of my parents, an I lived with them full time until I went to college. That word never came up in conversation in our home. It was a typical Midwest family upbringing (or what I imagine as such, and I am certain that other people experienced the same thing). We never talked about sex. We never had "the talk." I somehow managed to lose my virginity, and get a woman pregnant by the time I was 26 due to the instruction imparted in locker rooms, school buses, adult magazines and some one-on-one lab experimentation that started in college under the apprenticeship of some more experienced female instructors.

Anyway, I don't know if I accomplished anything in the conversation with my daughter. I was trying to tell her that she needs to be able to talk to her mother about stuff like that. I am pretty sure my point was entirely missed because of the defensive wall daughter threw up. And I was doing what I could to not walk away from a touch conversation if for no other reason than to show that I don't just come to town to take her shopping. Being involved means more than being a credit card. But all I probably accomplished was pissing her off. When I left the house that afternoon, I ended up saying goodbye to her through a closed bedroom door. There was no response from the other side. Her mother's words of wisdom to me when that happened was "She's 13."

Yes, she is.

So, I left Portland and headed east several hours to the place where my parents, brothers and grandmother live. To the house where I grew up. In the land of tumbleweeds, farm fields and country living, otherwise known as dial-up Internet computing hell. The oddities continued there. OK, so I have been in the state for several days and am just now getting to my parents' house, but there was no big reception waiting for me. No small one either for that matter, even though I had called and gave them 3 hours notice that I was on the road and on my way.

When I got here, the only person around was my mom. She didn't even get out of her chair when I walked in. Dad, who is fighting a cold and is still recuperating from knee surgery was in bed, as was my grandmother. And who wouldn't be in bed at 5:30 in the afternoon. Grandmother finally came out about 8, and then went back to bed about a half hour later. Dad emerged briefly at one point in his underwear (not an attractive sight) and then went back to bed. He reemerged about 9:30 or so, for less than an hour. Both brothers showed up, one obviously tipsy but trying not to let it show, and he passed out early. And the other brother, the one who I rarely see when I'm home anyway, headed back to town.

The funny thing is, I don't expect much from my family. We are not good conversationalists together (unless you count verbal disagreements) and we aren't touchy-feely emotional with one another either. I've been trying to learn to cast off that upbringing, that part of my nature forced in that family furnace for all of my daughter's life. I find I have to make an effort to tell her I love her. I have to work at conversation with her. And fortunately, her family is very expressive. They are huggy people. I was once very uncomfortable with that, but I've grown to appreciate it and even like it. I also was fortunate to have a relationship not too long ago with a woman who was also very outgoing like that, and I worked diligently at expressing my emotions with hugs and words in that relationship, which has helped with my daughter. All those years of work, however, have done little if anything for the relations with my own family. I don't doubt that we love each other, but we do not express. And sometimes, in spite of the love, we don't like each other very much.

So, it was definitely an Odd Friday. I'll spend much of Saturday here in rural Oregon, with my family, then return to Portland to spend the last remaining hours of my time in the state with my daughter before returning to California on Sunday.

As is often the case, it has been a rather bittersweet visit. Perhaps this whole bachelor living thing isn't so bad after all.

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