Thank God it’s January. All of January is the New Year, I’d say, and the equivalent of a Saturday morning on a close-up of a calendar. In this case, this January, it is a Saturday that has followed a kind of nightmare weekend — that being the end of August (in all its optimism)through its end, this morning.
I’m sitting in my son’s apartment in San Marcos again, with a cast on my ankle, a walker next to me, and a son who finds nothing but fault with his idiot, character-debased father. Outside the rain is falling on the dead and dead alike in this town. I am in the very heart of that karmic territory when one finds oneself saying, “Well, the upside is that things certainly can’t get any worse.” Only I find that the Fates love to crack each other up this way, by provoking mortals to actually believe this.
I’ll refrain from discussing the necessity for the cast and walker because I have this overwhelming certainty that readers are sick of hearing about my medical problems (though this one had nothing to do with alcohol), and I say only that there is much pain involved. This does nothing to help my equanimity toward my sons resentments. And what could those be? “Walking around.” Meaning the cumbersome walker.
I would love to return to writing about “events,” stuff to do or stuff other people do with their Friday nights. Other people, period. But to do so would inevitably involve a tale originating from the next hospital bed, and there we’d be again. I could maybe do a column on how nurses spend their Friday nights at the nurses station, but that would only be the flimsiest of ruses, though at least it wouldn’t necessarily be about me.
Some recent mail included an e-mail my publisher wouldn’t show me (he may have rightly assumed that it would depress me into a non-work mode, just as I’m able to get back to a computer and all), the e-mail said, in effect, that Brizzolara is a hopeless loser. But other correspondence included an invitation from a man named McCarthy, a complete stranger, who invited me to stay with him at his place in Oceanside over the holidays if I found I had no other place to go. Yet another anonymous Christmas card, with no return address and a prematurely shredded postmark, included words of support, political sympathy, and a $20 bill. I have no means of returning it, but thank you, sir, and God bless. I assure you the money will go somewhere it can do some good and not to some liquor bottler.
It’s true enough that the digits 2-0-0-8 are arbitrary in meaning, unless you’re into numerology, which is crap. But one can impose one’s own order on them. I will use them as a demarcation code for taking better care of my health and turning around some bad habits. If I am even halfway successful, 2008 will be a good year — or at least a better year.
In the meantime, this year will be the first in which I am an unqualified reprobate to my son. Not the loveable, avuncular reprobate everyone allows for, but an unredeemable character of generically low order. Previously there has always been some kind of illusion on his part that there was something of the truly good man about me; but he has arrived at that rite of passage where “My Dad” has become and forever will be “My f—-ing father.” He discovered my humanity, warts writ large, and only my death can redeem me and emphasize fond and noble memories, in some cases even a kind of hagiography. I did pretty much the same thing with my father.
Of course my son is to a large degree very different, considering his mental state: always highly changeable. In fact, last night, during a brief cease-fire on his part (I rarely shoot back, though he believes he’s under attack from me) he confessed, “Dad, I don’t know what to do with my emotions lately.” For the past five years he has known exactly what to do with them, and that is bury them, don’t experience them, and sidestep them in a way I often wish I could do. When I tried to tell him this might well be a sign of recovery, and that everyone experiences this at one time or another, his reaction was to arch his back on the bed, clutch his head and moan, “No. No. No. There is nothing good or normal about this.” I was missing the point completely and reaffirming his emerging opinion of me as perverse and wrong-headed.
After having generously invited me here until my foot heals, he is, within hours, having serious regrets and is already angling for ways for the return of his role-playing-game buddy/roommate. The sight of me hobbling around on a walker is clearly disconcerting to him: another indication of rotten humanity and anything but power.
The king must die.