posted on Jul, 6 2012 @ 12:02 AM
The three men I admire most...they took the last train for the coast…”
~Don Maclean; American Pie~
What was that moment in life that irrevocably changed my life? I don’t know. How do you tell a story like that? I guess if I’m going to tell a
story like that, I sort of have to start from the beginning, right? I was born and raised Catholic. Irish-Catholic, or Irish-American-Catholic. My
Uncle was a priest and when I was a kid my whole family thought I would grow up to be a priest too. I knew better then…I know better now. My Uncle
was also a Chaplain in the Army, so his “parishioners”, I suppose, were soldiers, and he sort of like this mercenary with a cross, but the priests
and Monsignor of the church my family attended, Immaculate Heart of Mary, called my Uncle Father Joe. Father Joe Anderson, I guess was his name, but
my brothers and sisters, and me, called him Uncle Father Basil. Basil was his middle name. That honorific would come to have a bittersweet irony as I
Growing up in the Zodeaux family was like some bizarre mash-up of The Brady Bunch and the Adams Family, or maybe not so ooky and kooky as that, and if
I’m being honest more like some lame After School Special that told the tragic tale of two drunk parents who, in spite of their alcoholism, loved
their children very much…or at least Mom did. The only time my father ever told me that he loved me was when I was around 10 years old.
He had been on a bender for about a week and missing for at least four days. No one knew if he was dead or alive, my mother panicked as she often
tended towards, and I, the oldest of eight children, unsure what would become of us. When he finally appeared he was still drunk. While I had become
used to seeing my mother drunk, and often drunk, I never had really seen my father drunk. The two of them, my Mother and Father, were different kinds
of drunks. My Father was the “I drink alone” sort of drunk who would hole up somewhere and drink himself into oblivion, while my Mother was a
On this particular day, the day my Father reappeared from his bender still drunk, he was in the living room holding little Rose on his lap, Mellissa
and Erin sitting beside him, my Mother came to my bedroom to inform Jake, Billy and I that my Father was home. Billy and Jake stayed in the bedroom.
I went into the living room. My father never really smiled much, and I had never really thought about it much but I guess I got the impression my
Father really didn’t like me very much. Even so, when I walked into the living room that day, my Father holding Rose looked up and smiled big. He
smiled as if he was truly glad to see me.
He motioned for me to come over to the couch. I did. He picked Rose up off of his lap and put her down on the floor, and she, being only two or so,
oblivious to the reality of the strained politics of family, crawled away and my Father asked Mellissa and Erin, they only being three and four or so,
to let he and I have some privacy, so they got up off the couch and left the living room. My Father patted the couch cushion beside him to indicate
he wanted me to sit beside him, and I being the obedient son did. He asked me how I was. I said I was fine. He mumbled some stuff of which I
wasn’t really sure what he was saying, but I could smell the whiskey on his breath and knew he was drunk.
Suddenly, and to my great consternation and discomfort, my Father started crying. I squirmed on the couch wishing to be anywhere else but there, but
then my Father told me he loved me. “What?” I said surprised. He told me that he realized he never had told me this, but that he had always
loved me, and as he told me this he cried like a little baby, much like Rose would only Rose hadn’t the vocabulary my Father did. I didn’t really
know what to say or do, so I said what I supposed any obedient ten year old son might say in that circumstance and I told I him I loved him too.
Even then, when I was only ten years old, I was painfully aware of the manipulation of that phrase “I love you”, particularly when my Mother said
it which was all the time. No really, I mean all the time. Like a gazillion bazillion bobabazillion times a day. Every time she said it; “I love
you”, it was uncomfortably clear she expected to hear the phrase back, so as it was, I wound up spending my childhood telling my Mother “I love
you” back a gazillion bazillion bobabazillion times a day. I came to hate that stupid phrase, but this particular day, that day my drunken
blubbering Father told me he loved me, I didn’t hate it so much and I didn’t mind so much saying it back.
Years later, when I had all grown up and finally escaped the madness of my family, and doing my level best to live independent of them while still
being a part of them, living in Los Angeles struggling to pay the bills, I remembered that moment just before I called my Father to ask him to loan me
$50 dollars so I could pay the deposit required to have the electricity turned back on. I actually had a job that paid pretty well, and I was living
in the Hollywood Hills in an apartment that the owner loved to always remind me was the same apartment complex where John Wayne once lived, and later
John Lennon, and years after that Quinten Tarantino lived, and the owner of the complex always reminded me of how in the exact apartment I shared with
my asshole roommate Lance was once occupied by a couple that always called each other “Honey Bunny and Pumpkin”.
The owner of the apartment complex insisted that this was where Tarantino got the idea for his two diner robbing outlaws in Pulp Fiction. It’s not
that I didn’t believe him. I believed it, why wouldn’t I? It’s just that every time he told me this stupid story it sort of felt manipulative
in that sort of “I love you” way my Mother always used, but with my landlord I was never clear what I was supposed to say back. My asshole
roommate Lance, an actor – actors have got to be some of the biggest assholes God ever made – used to always give me grief about my reticence to
respond to that the tired story of “Honey Bunny and Pumpkin”, using my reticence as an excuse to lecture me on the importance of social etiquette.
Of course, you would think that social etiquette demanded that if you had a responsibility to pay the goddamned electricity bill you would pay it,
but Lance was forever not paying the electricity bill on the months it was his turn to do so.
“You have to remember J., I have ADD.” This was always his excuse for everything. It was, of course, his excuse for why he “forgot” to pay
the electricity bill and why we were now without power, and why we had to come up with a $90 dollar deposit. Lance had $40 of it but didn’t have
the rest and even though he acknowledged that it was not my fault or responsibility to kick in any money for the deposit, he plead, he charmed, he
argued, that I had to loan him the $50 extra dollars needed to pay the deposit to get the electricity back on. It didn’t matter that I had all
ready paid the stupid bill that was his responsibility that month. Lance needed more of my help. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have the $50
dollars, Lance plead, charmed and argued that surely I could find someone to loan me the $50 so I could loan him the stupid $50, so I called my