Happy Father’s Day to the …???

Every June, the Book of Faces sends me not so subtle hints about what I should get my dad for Father’s Day, and the anxiety begins. I know within hours people will change their profile picture to show all of their friends just how much they love their fathers. I imagine heart-shaped frames encircling these “candid” embraces, much like this one…

Gordito at 8 months with his Halloween teddy bear

…minus the protruding tongue and with human subjects in a more upright pose of course (horizontal would just be creepy). For the record, this is an ironic picture that my mother, Kathy Bates, keeps on the dresser in “my bedroom”.

Clarification: The framed photo is ironic, because Kathy hates Gordito, my cat…and I suspect hearts as well. But that is for another post.

Further clarification: “My bedroom” is in quotes because a) I am 43 and I don’t live at home with my mother, and b) I get booted to the middle loft if the favorite child is visiting at the same time so “my bedroom” is really temporary at best.

Beyond further clarification: The framed pictures typically move with the placement of her children as we play musical beds, however “my dresser” is currently adorned with a host of pictures featuring bad hair decisions throughout the various stages in both mine and my brother’s lives. Kathy seems to be getting lazy in her old age.

Case in point. I have a strong suspicion no money exchanged hands for this gem of a hair cut.

After a day or two, these profile pics morph into post after post claiming some version of “MY DAD IS THE BEST DAD IN THE WORLD!”.

Happy Father’s Day to the MOST AMAZING MAN EVER! (followed by song lyrics from Piece by Piece… tear jerker)
We won the prize with this daddy-o! Thank you babe for loving and leading our family so well. You will always be our #1. Happy Father’s Day! (Daddy-o?!?!?!)
Happy Father’s Day Dad! I don’t know what’s bigger — your heart or your smile! You always have a kind word and smile for everyone you meet.

You get the picture. Feeling the immense pressure to conform, I reluctantly followed suit with this:

I know… totally lame. But in my defense, he started it! It isn’t that I don’t love my dad immensely. It would be a tremendous loss without him in my life. I treasure our time spent together when our relationship exists on an even playing field of mutual respect like when we are traveling the world together. Life is an adventure with Larnie (Larry David meets Bernie Sanders). There is a ton of laughter and fun… but then there is also yelling, and more yelling (we are Irish Catholics after all) with a dash of sardonic sarcasm, and a smidgeon of bullying and ultimately, mutual respect fail.

It all started in 1990, when Kathy told my dad that he had to write the Christmas letter that year. You see my dad has a stubborn streak. He is a very proud man whose structures his life based on values that are rooted in a 1950’s gender construct. The problem was that he had met his match with my mother and then subsequently had two very strong daughters. When a man depends on a woman to literally ensure that he doesn’t starve (see 1950’s gender construct), he has to pick his battles. Reluctantly he agreed to write the letter, but as always he insisted on doing it on his terms.

My aversion to sickening platitudes of affection is apparently a learned behavior from my father. Every Christmas, we would receive letter after letter discussing how perfect everyone’s children were. Trophy after trophy, award after award, honor rolls, scholarships, marriages to the perfect spouse and the list goes on and on and on. Larnie hated these. As a result, he turned the yearly Christmas letter into a vicious work of creative nonfiction.

Exhibit A: My paragraph in the maiden X-mas Letter. As you know my nom de plume is Kate. My true identity and that of all of the members of my family have been blurred out or given nicknames. I would not put it past any of them to sue me for slander or libel!

Excerpt from 1990

I was 16 at the time that this was written. Starting with the statement about hinges, practically everything is at a minimum hyperbolic and in some cases pure fiction.

Truth. I occasionally snuck out, my room was messy, I had a tinge of an attitude (could you blame me?) and one time my mom tackled me to the ground and sat on me because she had not resorted to hobbling just yet.

Lies. There were no hinges, signed releases or drugs, and I was a pretty good student for most of high school graduating in the top 3% of my class. Yes I totaled a classic Mercedes within two weeks of getting my paper license but who hasn’t? Over the years it got progressively worse.

Exhibit B: (still me)

Excerpt from 1992

By this point, Dad’s X-mas letters had become famous. Every year he received requests to be added to the Christmas card list. Every year he upped his game to satiate his hungry fans… at our expense. No one was safe. Not even his mother. The Christmas letter started going out yearly rather than every other year, and Larnie used it as a behavior modification stick.

You better straighten up and cut that shit out or it’s going in the letter!

There was just no winning with him and the stakes got higher, the more fans he accrued. My brother, being the youngest probably received the worst of it. He was Kathy Bates’s favorite, which did not score him points with Larnie. I was getting too old for his antics to affect me in the way they were intended and my sister was too much of a pleaser. Not baby bro…

Exhibit C:

After about ten years, Dad’s letters started to become self-fulfilling prophecies. It was like the Trump presidency; when real life merged with his twisted version, it was no longer funny. The letters stopped and he hasn’t written one since. Which brings me back to Father’s Day proclamations.

Happy Father’s Day Larnie! I don’t know what’s bigger — your heart or your smile! You always have a kind word and smile for everyone you meet????

Nope.

What to say about Larnie, We won the prize with this daddy-o????

We sure did.

I think I am just going to go with this …

Happy Father’s Day to the man to made me the person I am today: fearless, tough-skinned, independent and courageous. I love you unconditionally despite your best efforts to the contrary and I am counting on my good friend Karma to get the last laugh.

Affectionately yours,

The Teenager from Hell

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