My father never lived up to his full potential.
At the very least, that was the myth that I had told myself for decades. I remember one of the major realisations of this after I had served a stint in the military, was young, dumb, and full of white stuff, I had discovered the internet. He had a small business that had fed us relatively well, allowed him a way to make money and pretty much fiddle-fart around with the things he wanted to muck with.
But I thought we should be so much more than that. We deserved to be top notch, the upper crust, and live in the same luxury that I saw around me. I wanted it. He didn't.
That didn't compute.
I explained that he could sell his wares online, and make beaucoup bucks. He explained that no one would buy anything online, and that it was a fad that wasn't going anywhere, and was a waste of time.
This is the guy who was late to the microwave oven bandwagon, but was first in line to the cellphone back when it was a huge box that plugged into the cigarette lighter of a vehicle, had to be hardwired to an additional antenna in the vehicle, and cost insane amounts of money to operate per call. I seem to recall getting grounded once for a misdialled call, but I'm older now and my RAM isn't the newest model any more.
we had the first compact disc player in town
He was the first owner of the first compact disc player I had ever seen. When we went to buy one at the only store in the major city we were near that had this new technology, we had a selection of four titles.
Less titles than I had fingers on one hand. The Baroque Masters, The Beatles, and two others that I didn't much care for. So for the next month I listened to Bach and Handel like a fricking boss. We didn't get insanely popular. Young girls didn't fawn and fall at my feet. We just had something that wasn't a cassette or a radio, and nobody really cared.
So I knew about this whole Internet thing, and it was new, and I saw the vast potential in it. I loved it. He ignored it. Apparently I loved it a bit too much, because I made a living from it. Recently I saw that someone had done the very thing I had suggested back in the mid 90s and was making a killing at it. I'm still a little miffed that he didn't bite when he could have.
But I understand it better now.
When you are in your twenties, you're invincible. Nothing can take you down, you believe you'll rule the world and can't die. And that's pretty much as advanced as your visions of the future will get until you spawn. And then, when that first little squawk of anger and terror comes out of that little being and you realise you must immediately take ownership of said little creature, it all goes to hell.
Now you have to quit satisfying yourself, and work on your legacy.
If you're worth a crap.
Then all of those dreams, those gadgets, the things that were to impress the hot chicks and the two seater sports car become Strawberry Shortcake dolls and Star Wars action figures. You're no longer working on your house, and now it's all about the doll house. You know, the one your kid now has taking up half of her room because your kid is not going to be left behind.
there are things i learned
I was raised relatively poor. I hated it back then. It made me very embarrassed and sad and self conscious. My father had me doing menial labour by the time I was eight. No kidding. I did my first masonry at just eight years old. I am incredibly happy and proud of it now. It put me ahead of a lot of the entitlement punks of my time.
He taught me a lot of lessons, sometimes with patience, sometimes quite impatiently, but still many lessons that I have used to quite a critical degree. I can honestly say that I have used more of what he taught me perhaps than school did. This has also not staunched the need and desire to produce or succeed at what I was producing, and for him, I can say he always had something he was trying to accomplish.
I remember once helping him for several months as he engineered and tested a device that used baking soda and water, or something weird like that to feed into car engines to reduce fuel and thus improve their mileage and efficiency. I'm still not sure if it really worked or not, but he had enough folks interested in it, that was for sure.
He was a sales guy. That was his thing. I was not. I am the engineer type, the support/helper type. While I am a people person in some aspects of my life, I am patently not in others, and I am much more of the mole I guess.
But I learned from him that he had many traits I continue today, and they are probably in my blood. One of my best friends reminds me exactly of him. I do miss him, and I don't get to see my friend quite as much as I'd like, either. Perhaps it is all part of the price of who we are.
my dad and other dads all do the same thing
Where I am today, physically and functionally is because of my father. And in the end, that might have just been his goal all along. He reminds me of a late friend of mine who passed a few years before my father. I had asked his advice on some things I had been writing in my writer days, and I didn't want him to think I was ripping him off. He found the notion more than amusing.
I had his full permission to be as crazy as I possibly could be, and to take him along for the ride. One of the last things he wrote was a rather simple piece of an event and perhaps he just wanted to tie things up in a bow for us, similar to what my father had done. My friend (yes, he was a rather popular, or infamous friend, depending on who you're asking) recounted writing it somewhere, I don't remember the first place I saw it, but he did send me an email to remind me to look for it, and honestly, I'd about choke a small animal to get my hands on some of those old emails:
"I recently told my wife that I was going out to buy an envelope:
“Oh,' she says, 'well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet?
And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope.
I meet a lot of people.
And, see some great looking babes.
And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up.
And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is.
And, and I don't know.
The moral of the story is, we're here on Earth to fart around.”