Life Lessons, Child Rearing and Pet Keeping…Hadfield Style.

Well, the visit from Dad is done. Fantasy Island? Not so much. As usual, my imagination offered up a far juicier scenario than what reality had to provide. Mom and Dad behaved nicely. No knock-down-drag-out fights, no slow-motion running across the lawn, arms outstretched as “Reunited…and it feels so gooooood!” played in the background, no crazy monkey sex. However, as happens after every visit from my father, I was brought back to that question I asked in my first blog…who am I? I have concluded that the more appropriate question is, HOW am I? The utter insanity of my family (sorry family) just makes me wonder exactly how I am able to present myself as a relatively “normal” and functioning member of society.

Two things are clear. 1. I definitely inherited my father’s sick sense of humor, and 2. thank GOD that my parents divorced.

Why am I thankful that they divorced, you ask? Let me put it this way, he’s cigars, scotch and Cadillacs and she’s tennis, (strictly) two beers per night, and Toyota’s. He’s American Legion and she’s Gourmet Club. He’s…well, you get the point. I’m left wondering what these two ever had in common, even at the age of 19. No matter how hard I try, I can’t imagine the two of them spending any more time together than they did last week. A few hours of polite conversation each day and a courtesy lobster was quite enough, thank you very much.

The sick sense of humor is another story. For example, last year my father bought a 1981 Rolls Royce Silver Spirit. Why? Good question. Let me explain what I think. I think he thought it would be funny to have his friend Larry chauffeur him around South Florida to completely normal and mundane places. And that is precisely what they did. Evidently, Larry had no issues with playing “driver” and would even open the back door with a flourish. Mostly, the stories involve forays to the liquor store and Larry carrying Dad’s booze..er, packages to the car. 20 years ago this would have horrified me, but those were the days when anything my father did crippled me with embarrassment.

Don’t get me wrong, there was a time that we were inseparable. Mostly, before we moved to upstate NY and still lived in Mahopac. Lets see…oh, he always let me come to Keen’s with him. Even though it was a bar, it was okay because they had a pinball machine and his bartender lady-friend was always kind enough to hand me a fat roll of quarters. She sure was a nice lady..sending me off to play before she came on to my Dad. Ahhhh…the’70’s. You’d never be able to pull that off today. You know, bringing a 5 year old into the local dive bar. Maybe you couldn’t do it then either, unless you are the local State Trooper/Daddy, that is.

I have to say that one of my fondest childhood memories is of my bull, Emile. My dad bought me my very own “cow” at an auction. Oh, the excitement! I couldn’t wait to get that cute, tiny baby cow home and feed him and love him. My father lovingly named him “Emile”. I vividly recall the smile on his face as he bestowed the very noble name of “Emil” on my new pet. Emile…he was a nice guy. Impeccable manners, followed me around like a dog even though he was HUGE. I taught him to eat the equivalent of cow “formula” since he wasn’t weaned from his mommy when he arrived at our big red barn. Oh, how I loved my Emile.
Fast forward. I’m not sure how long it took. Frankly, I’ve blocked the horror from my mind, but at some point we loaded Emile up and drove him over to the local COW KILLER. Said COW KILLER killed my friend. It was then that I learned Emile was actually “A Meal”. The horror…the HORROR! My sicko father thought this was hilarious. It is this incident, and many others that shall remain unspoken, that shaped my weird, sick and twisted sense of humor.
I might still wonder how I function properly as a human being, but I did come away with the following life lessons:  1. Do NOT under any circumstances murder your child’s pet and serve it for dinner. This is highly confusing and slightly reeks of Hannibal Lechtor’s early years. 2. Try to show some compassion if your adult daughter continues to display a photo of herself and the eaten pet 30 years after the meal. Oh, and I’m also not above handing off my typically screaming 18 month old as revenge..its not like he can eat her or anything!
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