Panic

Panic

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/panic/

This is a blog that is based upon a blog called “The Daily Post“.  It is based on an idea that they come up with a key word, and I interpret that into a blog.  Let’s give it a shot.

When I see the word panic, I have a visceral response.  My pupils dilate, my heart races, and Adrenalin is pumped into my blood stream.  This response goes all the way back to when I was a kid, and I knew I was going to get into trouble at home.  There was one inviolable rule:  “Don’t piss dad off, especially when he’s been drinking.”  Anything could set him off, from a perceived   eye-roll of disdain (I learned to keep my face blank when talking to him), to walking too slow while bringing in groceries from the car.  Oh, I did the other normal childhood things: I lied, I didn’t do my homework, I would sneak into his room and suss out his hiding places for porn.

When I think back on that life, even now 35 to 40 years later, I want to go hide in my room.  I want to run away again.  I want to yell and scream at my father.  How could someone who is supposed to love me treat me that way?

Throw into all of the normal reasons for getting yelled at, and hit, as well as his alcoholic brain’s perception of rebellious behavior, I wanted to be a girl.  My dad was extremely homophobic, misogynistic, racist and mean.  I hid the most vital part of who I am from the man who was supposed to love me.  He would never had understood, not in a million years.  He probably would have killed me.

The best day of my life, living in that home in Eagle River, AK, was when I was allowed, as the oldest, to move out of the shared room with my brother, downstairs to what used to be called our play room.  I could live there!  I hid, except for dinner time.  I stopped watching t.v. with my family.  I would read, and draw, and fantasize about what I had now learned was called being a “tranny”.  There was no political correctness when I was a kid.  I dreamed of breasts, of vaginas, of dresses and long flowing hair.  Normal boy fantasies, right?  Not mine, I pictured myself.  I tucked, and hid women’s clothing.  I pretended, in my sanctuary, that I was the girl I wanted to be.

Then, the words, every night heard from my step-mother: “Dinner”.

Panic.

Panic.

Oh, shit, I have to face the monster.

Should I bring him a beer?

Better hurry.  Remember, stare at your plate.  Say, “Yes, sir”.  Don’t smirk, don’t smile, don’t move.  Eat and leave.

My God, I can still hear those thoughts.  I need to take a break from writing this.

By the time I moved into my bedroom, in my teens, my brother and I just didn’t get along.  I hated him, he didn’t know why.  He was perfect.  He never got yelled at, he liked girls, he had straight A’s.  (I could have, but I was so wrapped up in being miserable, I didn’t care).  I was always asked, “Why can’t you be more like Tony?  You could if you tried.  Remember when they wanted to advance you a grade in Elementary School… I don’t understand why you went back to your own grade.”

One ritual we did share was staring out the picture window of the living room, on the 2nd and top floor of our 2 story home.  We lived on the side of a mountain, just at the bottom, where the slope was gentle, but increased in pitch as you climbed the un-paved road.  We could see almost to the bottom of the hill, the road being about 3/4 of a mile long.  My parent’s car had a distinct engine noise, that we trained our ears to listen for, starting at 6:15 each night, except for Friday nights (my parent’s bowling league).  We’d kneel on the chairs by the window, waiting to hear the car.  We had made sure the dishes were done (required or be spanked…or yelled at for 3 hours), the front room had NO trace of our existence, the table set for dinner.  And we’d wait.  Then Tony would say, “Is that them?”.

“Yup”, was my reply.

Holy Shit, here HE comes, crap crap crap crap crap….go into the ditch, come on, car, burst into flames, something…Oh, shit, I didn’t do my homework….oh, no, the pink slip from my teacher because I hadn’t done any work for a week…they know my dad, everyone knows my dad, what the fuck am I going to do???

The car comes up the road, and as they near, my father activates the garage opener…we hear the motor hum, and the steel wheel guide the door unstoppable upward, like a giant mouth swallowing its prey…The headlights, now they’re turning into the driveway, going up the steep incline towards the home.  I can see dad and my step-mother silently sitting in the car.  My father’s sure hands, mom staring out the window of her passenger-side door, trying herself, in her way, to placate the monster.

My brother and I swiftly stop kneeling in the chairs, it was another unforgivable offense, and sit, still, hands between our knees, looking over that solid half wall we called a banister that separated the stair way from the living room.

The door from the garage to the basement opens, then the first creak of the bottom stair, and up comes HIM, and HER.  My brother and I are statues, perfect, silent.  We see Her head first.  Dad’s a “gentleman”.  Let’s the ladies go first, holds the door open, etc.  He can be very charming, which is often, just not here, with us.

Then, HIM.  That Black-brown hair in the perfect 1950’s conservative haircut.  Part on the Left, no hair below the ears.  He turns his piercing blue eyes to my brother and I…”Boys”, as way of greeting, then goes to the coat closet, that only HIM and HER can use, hangs his coat, and says, “Tracy J, go get me a beer.”  Then, “Sharon, what’s for dinner?”.  She used to complain about being as tired as he was when they got home from work, but learned, the hard way, just to say “Let me check.”

And the night progresses.  Depending on the season, in Alaska, if it was summer, my mind’s eye shows all the wondrous daylight that summers there can bring. 20 hours of light, followed by a twilight night-time….if it were winter, just plain black dark.

This night, dad doesn’t know about the pink slip, doesn’t know about my not doing my homework, doesn’t know I want to be a girl, doesn’t know that I want to die, doesn’t know that I love a boy, doesn’t know that I want to live with my mother so desperately that I cry myself to sleep.  He says, “Work sucked.”  “Sit up straight”.  “That was good.”

I finish, excuse myself from the table dinner with, “May I be excused?”  Manners were important, for when we visited other people’s homes my brother and I could show off about how wonderful at parenting my dad and step-mother were.  “You’re boys are so well behaved!”  We had to be, or face HIM when we would get home.

I escape to my room, hiding out for the rest of the night, crawl one more time up the stairs to make the required, “I’m going to bed tonight.  Goodnight, I love you” speech, (if avoided, another incident in the disrespectful behavior of Tracy J), and back to my room, hide my reading lamp under my covers, and read for an hour after bed time.  I can still smell the enamel paint on that black lamp, as it got hot.  I miss that smell.

Then to dreams, about breasts and vaginas, long flowing hair and dresses.

 

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3 thoughts on “Panic

  1. Pingback: My family’s ritual: Fishing in Alaska | Thoughts and random events

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