Just back from a road trip. Went to see my Dad.
People who’ve known me forever know that I’ve had 2 distinctly different fathers: the one who raised me (the one I call ‘Dad’) and the one who was my birth father (the one I called ‘Don’ — the one I wrote Ribbon of Darkness about). Don’s been dead since 1999, so, obviously, the one who raised me is the one I went to visit.
My dad and I have had a really up & down relationship since I was in my mid-teens. He was either speaking to me or not speaking to me; I was either in the Will or out of the Will; he was speaking to me but only saying mean things to me (i.e., “I wish I’d stayed in San Francisco after the Korean War, never gone back to Ohio and never adopted you“) so I’d stop speaking to him; I’d relent and go see him and try to make peace with him and he’d answer the door and say, “What did you come here for?” Me, exasperated in a nanosecond: “Dad, I just wanna be nice.”
Stuff like that. For decades.
For the last 5 or 6 years, we’ve had a peace treaty in place. He tries to ignore the stuff I still do that confounds him and I try to not listen to the stuff he still says that frustrates me. But now that I’ve moved even farther away from him, I can’t get down there to see him that often. He’s old now and can’t travel anymore so it’s up to me to go see him. We’ve both just had birthdays, both gotten a year older. So this little road trip was, like, all right; I gotta do this thing.
I’m in my car, heading east; it was a dark, summer-rainy morning and everything looked so beautiful. I thought to myself, I don’t remember it looking this beautiful last time I drove down there, and then I thought, FUCK! I’m supposed to be going WEST… I was already 45 minutes out of my way. It took me forever to find a place out there in the middle of nowhere to turn around and head back the right way.
I cranked Tom Petty’s Cabin Down Below on the CD player. Anyone who knows this song knows that it’s got a really dirty groove to it. It’s not just a song about sex, but about dirty sex. So, I mean, really; I cranked it loud. I needed to be 3 hours away in the other direction as quickly as possible. I played the song over & over & over and soared on that dirty groove until it became like hypnotic lust overtaking my entire car. Great music to drive by at 90 MPH.
I do tend to speed when I feel 100% certain that the Sheriff’s not around ( i.e., he’s already in my rearview mirror). And I pray to St. Christopher to please send me a sign when a Sheriff is lurking up on the horizon. So far, it has always worked, those prayers.
So I was just sailing past everybody on that 2-lane highway in the drizzling summer rain. And, lost in that dirty song groove, I started thinking about that gorgeous guy at work again (see post re: Wide Open Valley under a Thousand Stars), because now I’m certain he’s purposely doing the mindfuck thing that Tops do when they know a sexual submissive is in their field of vision. I have to have said or done something over the last few weeks that made him figure me out, because the other night, he did something/said something that got me so freakin’ off that now I know for sure he’s doing the “Top mindfucking the bottom” thing. And I couldn’t have been happier.
But then, sadly, he was gone. Left the building. Went home to the lucky duckster who lives with him and shares his bed. But I don’t care. I don’t mind getting my mind fucked in that specific way because then I can go home, touch myself, and wait for the sky to crack completely open.
The next afternoon, I was still in my little gorgeous-guy swoon. I was on my bed with none of my clothes on, imagining how perfect the world would be if, for some unknown reason, he was suddenly no longer with that lucky duckster and was just as suddenly single. And the results were amazing. At least, it felt to me like the sky cracked open.
I got off the bed, washed up. Threw on my shorts, my tee shirt, my flip-flops. I trotted down the stairs, on a mission to get to the Dollar Store to buy cat litter in preparation for my little road trip, when who do I discover on my front porch, knocking politely on my open screen door? Yeah, that’s right, the Mormon Elders.
I was so embarrassed. I really do love seeing them but, I mean, they are serious about chastity, which includes not masturbating, ever, and I was slightly panicking and wondering, Oh God, was I making a lot of noise up there in my room? My windows are all wide open…So I had to act like nothing was amiss. But I couldn’t help thinking that even Jesus was finding it funny.
But meanwhile; the road trip. I’m in my car, being overwhelmed by Cabin Down Below, speeding like a demon and the pictures of the suddenly-single gorgeous guy that begin filling my head are amazing and suddenly, I’m, like, at my dad’s. He comes outside to greet me and I’m standing in the driveway, trying to hide that I’m in a sort of distracted swoon. He says, “Wow, you made great time.” And I couldn’t really figure out how I had gotten there so quickly. I guess 90 MPH will do that for a girl. Then I tried to behave like a reasonably normal person for the rest of the day. (Luckily, my dad knows full well that I’m not a reasonably normal person so it’s an easy order to fill.)
He only talked about my writing briefly. He knows it’s important to me, that my writing is my life, but to him, my writing is only about, “When are you going to sell anything again? You’re not making any money.” And I’m saying, “It’s not just about money, Dad. To me, it’s more important that I’m choosing the right words.” And this trip, he tried really, really hard to not look at me like I was from Mars when I said that, but then he did say, “Is there anything you want to talk to me about?”
And I’m privately breaking out in a sweat because my first thought is that this has something to do with all this sex I want to have with the unavailable, inappropriate gorgeous guy at work. But this can’t possibly be what he wants to talk about, right? Besides, my dad has read most of my books and some of my stories over the years (when Neptune & Surf finally came out in 1999, my phone rang. It was my dad. “I read your book…” Oh crap. I would have rathered he hadn’t but once you become a famous erotica writer you surrender any and all rights to the thoughts that are in anybody else’s head, even if it’s your dad.) So I finally realized that even if by some miracle he had found out about the gorgeous guy in my head from work, he couldn’t have cared less and that he was only trying to make conversation with me; he was only trying to find out how my life was going.
I can’t be truly open with my dad. For so much of my teenage and adult life, he was so mean to me. He did eventually apologize for all of it and so I try to work it out in my mind, my heart, to let it go. But I can only let go so far and I just say, “Everything’s great.” And he just sighs.
When I was little, my dad was so nice to me. He really liked me and he looked out for me. He was away a lot during my childhood, but if he was home and I was in trouble for something (which I usually was), he would try to intervene on my behalf so that I wouldn’t get spanked (this always pissed off my mother because she was on some mission from Satan to constantly spank me). But my dad was so different from her. He made this deal with me. He said, “If you don’t lie to me, I won’t spank you.” So I didn’t lie and he kept his promise, throughout my entire childhood.
I really trusted him and when he was in town and at home, I always felt safe, because my home life could get pretty frightening when he wasn’t there.
In those days, I could tell my dad anything. I really could. And not think twice about it. Once he asked me, “Where did you get all those rings you’re wearing?” I said, “I stole them from a store.” He looked at me, sighed, and said, “You’re going to get yourself in big trouble doing things like that, you know.” (And he was right. I eventually got arrested and taken to jail, put on house arrest, and told by the Lieutenant who arrested me that if I got arrested again, I was going to reform school. I was terrified of reform school but it didn’t keep me from stealing a car 2 years later with one of my girlfriends — we were both 15, it was 3 AM. The Sheriff who caught us said, “You are in big trouble, girls.” Ah, so this is what my dad meant by getting into big trouble. Nothing quite like a Sheriff, in those intense black uniforms they wear, telling you that you are in big trouble. You suddenly receive the meaning clearly and you are really wishing at that point that you had the option to just get spanked. Luckily, the man we stole the car from dropped the charges on the spot. He got his car back, which was what he really wanted. After that, I finally stopped stealing.)
When I was 12, things really started changing at home. My dad was having an affair that eventually wound up causing him to leave us for good. My mom was becoming meaner and meaner, and becoming more unhinged, and my dad was, more & more, taking my side against her, even if it was only in private. I don’t know that it was in my best interest, though. It was almost like he didn’t actually care much anymore. Once, my grandmother, unbeknownst to me, had seen me drinking Jack Daniels out of the bottle and smoking cigarettes with one of my girlfriends. She called my dad and told him.
He came up to my room, where I was playing my guitar, minding my own business, and he asked me if it was true, that I was drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes with Karen. I said, “How did you find out about that?” He was dumbfounded that it was true. I was 13 years old. He sat down on my bed with me and said, “Look. I was sent up here to give you the strap, but I don’t want to hit you. I’m just going to say that I did, but if you drink whisky and smoke cigarettes again, you better be damn sure you don’t get caught because then it will look like I can’t control my own daughter. And then I am going to give you a whipping you are never going to forget. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
I did. He was saying: Drink whisky, smoke cigarettes, do NOT get caught. Shortly after that, he moved out and left us and, emotionally then, I was on my own. No one had my back.
He’s old now. Practically deaf. His hearing is in that range where he can comfortably hear chain saws and jet engines and not much else. But it didn’t keep me from keeping the volume on my iPhone really, really low, as the phone sat on my pillow, right next to my ear, and I listened to the Divinyls over and over, my pajama bottoms completely off and the pictures of my gorgeous guy filling my head again as I waited for the sky to once more crack open. I seriously did NOT want to wake my dad and have him walk in on me like that. Not that I really care, but I know he doesn’t need to just keep getting constantly confronted with all my insanity that just never, ever stops.
When I was done, I closed the Divinyls song and thought about the Mormon Elders and how potentially embarrassing that could have been — for all of us. But this is why I won’t repent, because for Latter Day Saints, once you repent and then keep on sinning, that is when it gets serious and you are going to Hell. If you don’t ever repent but keep on sinning, there is this other level you go to that is not as bad as Hell, and is more like being sent to your room for eternity to think about what you’ve done.
My entire life has been about being sent to my room to think about what I’ve done, so I think I’m going to be okay with it. The only other option is to leave myself alone and I just don’t see it happening, gang, at least not any time soon.