Our Dad: Sad, And Serious About It

Now, let me start off by saying: My father, Daniel, is one heck of a unique character. He made me a true believer in mental health conditions. His main demon being depression amongst more than a handful of others ...

Now, let me start out by stating that he was never physically abusive or anything ultra-heinous like that. But, some of the words that have come out of this man's mouth, his past choices and actions that he has taken over the years are unable to be described in words ... other than questionable at best, crazy, and down right insane at times!!!

I'm not here to make light of mental conditions, I deal with depression as well. I think we all do in some manner or another. But, Ol' Danny Mark (I've got other nick-names for 'im. He even has a few for himself. We'll get to all those later!!!), is ... well, ... I suppose it's entirely up to you, reader,  make the call ...

Chapter 1: Riding In The Bed Of Dad-Dan's Truck

"Which has blankety-blank thousands of miles on it." was a common statement my brothers and I would hear whenever he came to visit us. This little episode, I can't remember the exact date, took place some time ago. Somewhere between 1991-1992. He lived in Raglesville, Indiana at that time. Which is some podunk little village with a population of 141, located in the mid-western part of the state. We were out in some pasture, or may have been a park, in the middle of nowhere. Miles, Martin and I were playing around. We were still quite young at the time. I was around 11, Miles was about seven, and Marty would have been around three years of age. 

Now, I have no idea why, but we had to leave. And we, of course, being kids didn't head that way in an expedient fashion. Oh, no ... 

Now, Dan-O has a bit of a temper, which was passed on to me, my brothers, too, as well as the above mentioned depression. We finally get in the truck and he floors it ... with Martin not fully in the back of the truck yet!!! Luckily, he grabbed on to the tail-gate. Quickly, I grabbed both of his wrists to keep him from losing his grip and falling flat on his face at 30-40 mph. 

While I'm holding on to Martin's wrists, who by the way, was looking like superman flying through the air minus the cape, Miles and I are both yelling at the top of our lungs, "Stop, dad, STOP!!!" over and over again. But, ol'Daddy-O??? Well, he just keeps on a-drivin'!!! Focused on the road ahead perhaps ??? ... Maybe he didn't hear us ... But, he never listens to the radio ... and obviously never looked in the rear view mirror ...  

What. A. Douche.

Don't worry, I was able to reel Marty in after several minutes of hanging on for dear life with no injuries aside from a dash of emotional trauma. When we got back to our destination, a.k.a: Dad's house, we told him about it and he pretty much ignored us. I can't remember if we even told our mother about it. She would have been the only one to believe us anyhow ... Oh well!!! Cat's out of the bag now!!!

Chapter 2: That Really Burns My Ass!!!

This one happened right before Miles was born. I couldn't have been more than four-and-a-half years old. That would make the year right close to 1986, maybe a few months before. I remember we would build model sprint cars and other types of vehicles. Though the sprint cars are what I remember most vividly. We had completed one or two prior to this little gem of a tale ...

Now if you're not a fan of auto racing, sprint cars are primarily dirt track cars that sometimes have wings at the top, above the drivers roll-cage, a smaller pair of wings in between the front wheels, and their right-rear wheel is considerably lager than the remaining three. 

I took the initiative to try and do a bit of the assembly myself. I read the instructions as best my then almost 5 year old mind comprehend them then went to work. I looked it over, then at the clock. It was almost time for Dad to get home!!! I hadn't finished it, but had got a fair amount done. Enough to be proud of myself and want to show my father what I had accomplished. 

So, I ran out of the apartment and down to meet him at the end of our apartment complex's entrance, I remember it being sunny and great weather that day. He always had a friend from the bank he worked at (which was First National Bank up in Terre Haute, Indiana) drop him off at the entrance to the complex. We walked back to the apartment where we lived. Mom was finishing up cooking dinner. I helped her set the old, wooden dinner table. She then served up the food and we all ate while Mom and Dad talked about their days ... 

We all finish up dinner, clean the table, and now it's time for a little model car construction!!! Oh, I couldn't wait to show my Dad what I'd done, all by myself!!! He takes a few looks over the car, which we had been constructing over a few days. In the speech of a five-year-old boy, I said, "I even did a little bit myself!!!"...

"You did WHAT!?", My Dad exclaimed. "I can't believe it. I mean that burns my ass, Marcus. That really BURNS MY ASS!!!". "He was just trying to help", my mom interjected in her usual, calm voice. "Well, I don't care, Cindy, it's all fouled up now!!!", my Dad retorted with a biting, sarcastic tone. Which is one of his staple tones. Emotional daggers I've dubbed them!

Encouragement for initiative? I ... think not!!!

I remember feeling so terrible at that moment. So small. As if I wasn't smaller than most persons on earth already. I was five years old for cryin' out loud!!! And, I'm fairly certain we ever did another model again. What a shame.

Chapter 3: Watching TV In Tighty-Whities, Socks And Shoes

And that's it!!! That's not a misprint, you read it right. Watching the news 3/4 nude was the norm'. And, by the way, the shoes were penny loafers; underwear: Fruit of the Loom. Let that sink in ...

This was a bit later than the time of the last chapter's time frame. Nintendo had just been released in the U.S. So that would have made it around summer of 1986. I had got one for Christmas the year before (Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt, remember?!?!?). Thus began my passion for video gaming which still last to this day. Hey, it wasn't all bad!!!

It was the Sunday morning news, Channel 2, WTWO. He always watched it before church service. I can't remember exactly what the story was on the news that day, but the image, this chapter's title, was burned into my mind, permanently. 

I was sitting on the couch trying to get my Dad's attention. I can't remember exactly what I was saying. It went on for several minutes. Finally my Dad turns around, with a look of pure fury in his eyes, he exclaimed, "Marcus!!! If you don't shut up you're not going to play that Nintendo again until you're 21!!!", and I replied, "I won't be living here when I'm 21!!!"... How right I was!!! ...

 His face was red as an apple, and if it were at all humanly possible, I'm sure there would have been steam pouring from his ears!!!

Anger Issues: We've all got 'em!!!

Even as a child, I knew something was amiss with my dad. I just didn't know quite what ... not quite yet ... But, I believe the seeds where sown then ...


Chapter 4: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

These were his exact words spoken unto me. You guess it: God broke the mold, then trashed and burned it after creating the B-Double-D (B-Double-D is a word evolving from the title: Bad Dad Dan. Which he gave to himself ... ). I can't remember the exact time-frame when he spoke these words of wonder. I mean, who would say that?! Not only that, who would say that to their children?!?! Santa Madre de Dios!!!

I know it was very near the time my mother and father separated, so that would make it around the early 1990's. My brother and I were living with my mom in a small two bedroom apartment in Newburgh, Indiana. I still remember the name of the apartment complex: Pine Meadows. I believe they are still standing!

My dad and I were driving to Terre Haute on one of our visitations from Newburgh in his truck (Sometimes, for reasons only known to him, he would only take me to visit). He was on one of his usual rants where he just talks in circles. The same subject for hours on end with no real beginning or end. Just middle. Over and over. I hardly ever got a sentence in (We don't really talk anymore, this being one of the reasons). Mostly just a bunch of "Yeahs" and "Uh-huh's." When he used to call us, my brothers and I could literally sit the phone down and continue doing whatever it was we were doing at the time and he was none-the-wiser. My brothers and I used to do this all the time. Never failed. I think he just liked to talk, and hear the sound of his own voice. Our dad never really had conversations with us. It was more like he was talking at us.

Anyhow, I had tuned out of the conversation after about 45 minutes (though it seemed like an eternity!). But, I'll always remember this little gem that came out of my dad's mouth: "So, the best thing I can say to you, Marcus, is 'do as I say, not as I do'" ...

I wasn't more than 10 years old at the time and I remember thinking, "Did he really just say that!?"

Yes. He. Did. 

Honest to God on high. That one still baffles me to this day. As do others. But that one, man, REALLY!? Even as young as I was at the time, I knew something was WAY off about that. And I was starting to realize he was more than just a bit odd ...

Chapter 5: Just Bury The Dead Rabbit Already!!!

Miles was able to correctly correlate the time-frame of this little episode. We were around 15, 12 and 7, and it was close to Miles' birthday (March 25). That would have put the year around 1997. 

Ah, yes. 1997. The year I remember when technology really started to take off. Cellular phones, video games, and the internet was in full swing. I was taking computer applications and web design classes at Castle High School at the time.  Good times ... good times!!!

Back to the "episode" at hand. As I was saying, it was close to Miles' birthday. Daddy-O came down from Raglesville, Indiana, and we all hopped in his truck, all four of us. Dad, Miles, Martin and I once again headed back up to middle Indiana. To the middle of nowhere. No superman impressions this time though, thank God!!! 

I remember Dad asking Miles on the way up north if he wanted anything for his birthday. We were joking around about the usual chocolate Easter Bunnies that are passed around for passover. Then Dan-O came up with one of his best ideas ever: "How about I just get you a real bunny rabbit for Easter!?" Miles loved the idea, and so did Marty and I. 

Interlogue: Green Bananas