Right now it’s March. Where my family lives in West Virginia, the month of March is wild and schizophrenic. You might start on a Monday in a blizzard, and get 80 degrees by Friday, and back again. You have to be prepared for every possible scenario. The landscape will remind you that it doesn’t necessarily want you there. Every few days is a roll of the dice.
Having only one kid is the paternal equivalent of flying into West Virginia in March. You could get a nice warm day, or you could be under 16 inches of mountain snow.
I’ve been very fortunate that I was raised by parents with a demeanor like mine. I could have been rambunctious and volatile, but thankfully we all got along, with what anyone would describe as only the most minor of hiccups during adolescence when the sudden injection of testosterone imbued me with an outsized interest in theoretically naked women and breaking into derelict buildings.
More dramatic even, I could have had parents that weren’t patient, clever, and even-tempered. I was instead, very lucky.
Today is my Dad’s birthday. Last year I scrounged the internet for a signed (pool legend) Willy Mosconi 10 ball. In wanting to go a different direction this year, I thought it would better to go abstract, and create something that doesn’t really exist at all, this dumb internet article. There isn’t anything less like a 10 ball than an internet article. You can’t hold it in your hand to judge the weight and perfect sphericality of the thing. You can’t put it in a little case, and put that case on the shelf.
This weekend I hosted a “Bad Movie Night” event, which I do on occasion in my back yard to celebrate both our new spring weather in California, and pay homage to Terry Hess, who was a cool enough of a Dad to record two terribly awesome movies onto a vhs tape, and invite me to watch innumerable scary and awful midnight movies on the USA Network when I was a kid.
So at Bad Movie Night we screened two of those vhs ripoffs, first “Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl’a’rama” rolled as we got the party was getting started. A fraternity/sorority prank goes badly when a group of oversexed nineteen-year-olds break into a bowling alley, and break open a trophy than contains a demon (imp, apparently), that for looks like a Boglin and speaks jive for no apparent reason. He turns a few of them into a shitty zombies, or something, and the rest of the movie everyone runs around, has terribly unmeaningful conversations, and grabs each other’s boobs.
Second, we screened the other hit that lived on that vhs, “Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh”, which is in the very small genre of 80s horror parodies that was both intentionally funny, and morbidly ridiculous (see also BODY COUNT). There’s nothing about Bloodsucking Pharaohs, which takes place in the “Little Egypt” neighborhood of Pittsburgh, that isn’t satisfying. Not the least of which the sidebar where the detective’s voice-box-talking wife, in order to cure her smoking habit, is taken to a white-walled clinic and abused by men in Gorilla masks and sprayed with fire hoses in a kind of Stanley-Kubrick-meets-THS-1138 style.
Dad, you did a good job making sure I wouldn’t spend all my time setting fires, or, as you would put it “Don’t ride a motorcycle or smoke crack, other than that you can do whatever you want”.
I think my parents are shocked when I quote them verbatim from when I was fifteen, twelve, or eight. I’m someone who doesn’t appear to be paying any attention, when in fact I’m paying so much attention it makes my brain hurt, and I have to look away just to escape the glare.
So here’s to my Dad, who taught me a lot more important things than throwing a baseball, and driving pre-power-steering American cars, but also how to stay up and laugh at dumb movies, because it’s pretty much better than everything else you can do with your time. Sorry you can’t put this on the shelf, but you probably have that old vhs laying around somewhere.