Post Fathers Day Post

It seems the prerogative of old men to speak without giving care as to what they say. Not a second thought given, they just open their mouth and speak their mind, loudly. They speak without subject, they speak without direction and they speak without knowledge.

Across America at this very moment there are countless old men regaling one another with completely fictitious stories about ‘the war’ or ‘the church’ or ‘the craft.’ They use phrases so cliché that words cease to be words, phrases leap from their mouths so readily that no words remain. All that is left are grunts, guttural noises where words used to be, designed to get a rise. Noise so delightfully vague so religiously incoherent bystanders cannot agree or argue. All one can do is listen.

In bars they meet telling stories with no punch lines. Preachers speak to congregations from atop holy bar stools muddling their words with greasy offerings. And punctuating each holy ejaculation with a vodka chaser or a draw from discount camel light purchased from the fill station down the street.

There they stand arm in arm speaking broken phrases about ex-wives ex-lovers lost children and forgotten dreams. They clap each other on the back yelling “and if I hated you I’d introduce you to my sister” or “you do just like I say and then tell me… you’ll see, you’ll be surprised. “

They hide in little hovels being ‘men.’ Greasy spoon, where a man is a man without having to be anything at all. Just as long as there are no women around to remind them that words, stories and indeed life itself deserves a point. Just as long as there are no children around to remind them that words imply consequences, that utterances backed by meaning inherently create responsibility.

It seems the prerogative of old men to speak. To speak with such tenacity that they are heard and with such wanton frivolity that they are not listened too. They spout and spew and kick and guffaw and we just sit and hear and hate and wonder.

Where have all the fathers gone?


About bishopdavi

Behind the stick at The Avenue Pub
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2 Responses to Post Fathers Day Post

  1. David Ambrose...really, I found your FB page when I logged off mine to see if some pictures I posted were up yet says:

    I was a little kid during the late 1960’s – early 1970’s. At that time, the guys who fought in WWII and Korea were still relatively young. At family gatherings and, for the most part, anytime adults got together there would come a point when guys started telling the kind of “war stories” you wrote about, only back then, they they tended to really be stories about war.

    I remember being all impressed listening to them and talking to my dad about it; he told me not to believe anything they said, and then he added something that confused me for years. He said, “the guys that really did something during the war don’t talk about it”. It made no sense to me because, for one thing, their stories would obviously be the ones people really wanted to hear, and second, how could they sit there and listen to a bunch of guys tell tales about their exploits that were more fiction than fact?

    More than thirty-years later I finally understood why they didn’t speak of their deeds. Oh, and trust me, it’ll all circle back to an actual point eventually…at least I hope it will.

    I was a police officer from north Jersey who was on duty and responded to the request for assistance from the NYPD on 09-11-01. Through a quirky twist-of-fate, the medic unit I was assigned to (I was also an EMT) happened to be assigned as the EMS crew at the command-post at ground zero from the afternoon of the 11th until early on the 12th. Surreal is the best description I can offer as to what it was like that day.

    In November of that year I was in the city with my then-wife and three kids, ages 9, 5 and 3. We were walking past the WTC site as we were making our way towards the ferry terminal when my nine-year-old daughter asked me something about 09-11. We were near Vesey St., right across from where the command-post had been (I believe it was in 3 World Financial Center). I squatted down so they could hear me better, and began quietly pointing out and explaining how and where and what things were like that day, I realized it was the first time I had spoken about it in any detail.

    That particular piece of the city, especially during Fall, 2001, tended to be pretty crowded with pedestrians. At one point, I noticed there were about ten people who were standing there, obviously listening to me speak to my kids. I don’t know why, but for some reason that made me completely uncomfortable, actually, way beyond uncomfortable. I stopped talking, stood up, and we started back on our way towards the terminal. I never talked about 09-11 again to anyone other than the few people who were part of my crew that day. It reached a point where, if the topic came up and someone who knew I was a policeman at the time asked if I was involved in any way, I told them I was off that day.

    I do think I finally understand why soldiers and other people who’ve been in some pretty heavy-duty situations have no interest in talking about it though.

    So, given the theme of your essay to which this comment relates, I offer a few bits of unsolicited advice. And since you are a young whippersnapper and I old as dirt, hopefully it will be in some way fatherly.

    In life, you will always run across the type of old men about which you wrote. I believe, on the soundtrack of each of our lives, their collective vocalizations can be placed in a category titled, “background noise – of human origin”

    But when you find yourself in one of those types of situations, I think it’s best to ignore the ambient noise – regardless of it’s volume – and try to find and explore the patches of silence. For there will be, almost without exception, off to the side, a quiet soul who just may be willing to share with you their true tales. And as much as this can be taken as literal advice, my intention in using this as my example was meant more as a metaphor, a suggestion if you will, an alternative perhaps as a way of approaching life.

    And on the topic of your being under-employed I offer this; When I was nineteen I moved to California for know reason in particular. After a while I was no longer able to make ends meet and finally, when I ran out of money altogether, I hitchhiked cross country back home to north Jersey. During the entire journey I worked at sketching out a plan for the rest of my life.

    I didn’t come up with a plan but, in retrospect, what I did come up with ended up suiting me just fine. It consisted of two things, two thoughts or principles I have used to guide the choices I’ve made throughout my life. The first thing was that I was living in one of the most amazing and magical times in history, where any schmuck with a crappy job that paid a couple of dollars could live better than a King or Queen could just six-hundred years before. (indoor plumbing, electricity, heat, antibiotics, cheap food, travel and on and on) It didn’t matter if anyone else shared this view; I knew it was true and that was all that mattered.

    The lesson I took from this observation? Spend as little time as was possible actually earning money, and focus on doing “stuff” like climbing mountains, backpacking, fishing with my dad, attending live musical performances and museums and visiting non-touristy spots around the world. But in all this, always keep at the top of my priority list, doing whatever I could do to take some of the pain away from those who were in pain.

    The second thing I decided, rather developed, during my journey across this great land of ours was a combination vaccine/antidote I could use to deal with any doubts I might have along the way if I really did decide to live the type of life I’ve been describing.

    This one was easy. I thought about all the studies and surveys I’d seen about what most people (American people) thought could be added to their lives that would make them happy. Needless to say, if the respondents were all to become rich, stay healthy and have a job they loved there was no doubt in their minds that they would be very happy. I thought, “I agree”. But I wanted to expand the demographics of the group surveyed to make it a more accurate representation of reality. So for my comparisons, it wasn’t just Americans or even those who resided in the whole of Western society I wanted to be compared with, I wanted to know where I stood in comparison to everyone else on the planet.

    I needed a baseline for “me” to be used in the comparison so what I did was to multiply the hourly rate of pay from my former part time job at UPS by 40 to see what the job would pay if i worked full time. I determined what type of living arrangements I would be able to afford with that pay and found I would be able to rent a small apartment and own a used car. I then compared the amount of pay and my living conditions with the average wage and living conditions world-wide.

    I learned that the money I earned along with the amenities included with the type of apartment I could afford to rent (electricity, heat, windows, a refrigerator, a toilet and running water) would place me in the top one-percent of the wealthiest people in the world. At the time, forty-percent of the earths population didn’t have access to electricity, I don’t think the number has changed very much since then. And just like that – POOF – I was rich.

    Even though it seems that anyone with half a brain would know that having a certain amount of money and “stuff” won’t make them happy, it’s hard to believe how many still believe it will. And that includes dolts, intellectuals and a great deal of those in between.

    As sad as it is to say, people choose to spend their lives obsessed with their careers, their status, and their stuff, But no one has to. So choose well young Jedi, or in your case grasshopper (unforgivable, by the way, that Bruce Lee did not get that role in Kung Fu)

    • bishopdavi says:

      Thank you so much for the consideration and care that you put into your reply. I agree and respect most everything you put here, and am grateful to your advice. Yeah sometimes we young ones still need to be taken to school. Cheers and good fortune to you and yours.

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