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An Attempted Piece About My Grandfather, And How He Was Awesome.

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My Grandfather
My Grandfather

Almost everything I've ever written, misguided and asinine or whatever, has been for the love of women.

I'm a heterosexual guy in his early-30s who tries to evolve legs and pull himself from the primordial muck of "man-child", but I am who I am. I love a lot of things that are traditionally considered "boy" things -- sports, video games, cartoons, old TV shows about Christian sheriffs -- but I've always identified more with women. I don't have a lot of close relationships with men. All of my male friends are online somewhere, lost in some weird combination of spending the last 15 years plying a trade on the Internet and moving around a lot. I form quick, close relationships with women. I like female singers more than their male counterparts on average, I gravitate toward female characters in television shows, I love women's wrestling for the wrestling and not for how they look doing it ... hell, I always play as Chun Li in Street Fighter II. It's never a purposeful decision. I never say, "I'm gonna support the WOMAN!" It just happens like that.

When I look back on my childhood (because that's where all of your problems started ... every single one of them), I see a VCR. I see a box full of toys only I could play with, not because I was selfish, but because I was the only person in the world I could count on to not break them. I think about the people who molded me, at least beyond my mother and father, and I start to figure out that I don't like men because men have always been awful to me.

The original idea for this post was a schmaltzy thing about my grandfather. The death of my grandfather is the jumping off point for the drama of my adolescence, when my comfortable existence of being sorta fat and doing well in school without trying turned into this grand thing where everyone started dying and killing themselves, puberty crawled out of my mouth with a pitchfork and life became a jumbled mass of disappointments and taking things for granted. I started fucking up my relationships with people because everything I loved was quick to leave me, and a childhood spent in sing-songy reverence to Our Lord turned into a thing where I couldn't stop yelling at a magical guy I told myself I didn't believe in. It was the worst. I wanted to go back and write some happy things about my grandfather, because my grandmother gets all the good stuff. She was the one who read Charlotte's Web to me. She was the one who taught me (and only me) in Sunday School. She was the one who cooked Sunday lunches and always had those shitty Little Debbie cream cookies with raisins in them. My grandfather's just this necessary factoid at the beginning of my grandmother's story.

The more I wrote, the more I realized I'd either written out or forgotten anything he did to make me a better person. He was just the guy sitting next to my grandmother at Christmas.

It's sad. I want to go back and grab something great, but literally the best thing I can remember is that he managed an Exxon station that sold honey in those little jars shaped like bears. I thought that was funny. That's the best memory. It sounds awful, but this doesn't turn into a story where he beats me and throws me into the wilderness. He's just a guy. I remember him teaching the "adult" Sunday School class down the hallway I was never Christian and old enough to attend. I remember him disappearing when church began and showing up at the end to pass around a collection plate. After church, I remember him as the guy who got pissed off at me for not wanting to watch his "programs". The guy who stuck the remote control between the couch cushions or sat on it to make sure nobody could change it.

I remember his weird "blessing".

Dear heavenly father, we thank you for this food and all our blessings,pardon our sins and save us, for Christ's sake, Amen.

I remember him getting mad at me for saying it along with him, because he thought I was making fun of him. I was, I guess, because "for Christ's sake" in a grace prayer is funny whether I'm five or 30. I was also trying to emulate him because he seemed like an important guy, and when he died, guess what? I was the only one who could remember and do his blessing. Something he hated me for.

So I jump over to the other side of the family and think about my father's father. He always seemed like the least important person in our patriarchal family tree. I was me, my dad was my dad. Those were both really important. My great grandfather was still alive for a portion of my childhood, and he was a really tall guy who always wore a fedora and had pet squirrels. That's awesome. My grandpa was just a guy who'd been awful to my grandmother a thousand years before I was born and had "reformed" by shacking up with a new wife who demanded I call her "nanny". I didn't, because "nanny" sounds stupid whether you're five or 30. She ended up leaving him for whatever reason and leaving him with an empty house. She took his socks and underwear and everything. He was like a worse version of my dad.

We were poor when I was younger, so we spent a lot of time living at his house. I got a room in the basement. One night I woke up to pee, and as I climbed the stairs to the main floor my grandfather snuck up behind me, yelled BOO as loudly as he could and jabbed his fingers into my sides. I used the bathroom all over myself, and to this day I can't go up a flight of steps at night without looking back over my shoulder. That's probably my best memory of him. He held a gun to my grandmother's head once and used to beat my father with a belt. In context, it's not a terrible memory to have for the guy.

I look elsewhere in the family. I look to my mom's "Uncle Billy", a guy who was always drunk and emerging from another room, who in my mind has been replaced by Joe Walsh. I just see a bad-smelling Joe Walsh opening a bedroom door and staggering into a living room. I think of my uncles. Timmy once threatened to "hurt" me for talking to him. Stevie paid less attention to his children than complete strangers and has never asked me anything more personal than "so how's school". They seem happy in home movies, those weird ones from the stone age where everyone's in short-shorts and moving at 2x speed. I think of my great grandfather on my mother's side, the place everyone says I got my love of wrestling. He once taped Halloween Havoc '89 on VHS and gave it to me, but he also always wanted "a kiss" when I saw him and thought pinching me in my stomach and legs was funny. He taught me to be afraid of affection. Everyone taught me something terrible.

I made two attempts at having a male "best friend" in my life. The first one never got over how sad life could be in southern Virginia and shot himself. The second slept with my ex-girlfriend the second she decided she wanted to make me mad. Somewhere along the line I got really bad at friendship, something I struggle with to this day.
My father is a man who loves me, but who always put work ahead of me and my mother and recently said gay people should "just take a deep breath and relax". He does a thing where he asks me a question, and in the middle of my answer turns and asks my mother an unrelated question in a quiet voice. I get mad, and he tells me he was listening. He proves it by saying a word or two from whatever I was talking about.

Men who have been good to me are the ones I barely know. I know a lot of great people online. I have friends who'll travel across the country to hang out with me, people who'll take a second out of their day to tweet or link something I've written so I can keep doing that for a living instead of waiting tables. Men pay me, like to read my stuff, want to know what I think about things. I'm of great entertainment to men.

And so I move forward with a great appreciation for, and 0% working knowledge of, women.

Chun Li is awesome because if you jump and press down and middle kick she stomps, and you can use it to jump on peoples' heads and bounce around the room until they're dead. I think that's what I'm trying to say.