by The Finn
Not long after we moved back to Germany, my old man and I had a talk. He and I went for a walk around the neighborhood a few days after we settled into our permanent quarters. The neighborhood itself was nothing special, standard GI apartments and as little greenery as they could get away with. It was the conversation that really stuck in my mind.
“Look,” he said, “I’m not really gonna have time to watch you. Your mother’s gonna be working a lot and your siblings will have school and stuff, so… I guess this is where I tell you that you need to start acting like a man.”
“Huh ?” The whole conversation had come out of the blue and this was something that I definitely wasn’t prepared for. What the fuck did I know about being a man ? I was fourteen. I barely knew how to wipe my own ass and he was asking me to act like a man ?
“A man. You know. A man.” he continued. “You need to find a job, start doing your own laundry and still get good grades. I don’t want to hear about you fucking up and I definitely don’t want to have the MP’s call me in the middle of the night.” He slowed down his pace a little. He’d been walking to keep up with me and I always walked faster than he did, even when my legs weren’t longer than his.
“This time here… It’s gonna be tough,” he said. “We’ve only been a family for a few months and we’re still kind of settling in to each other. And with us coming back here, everyone’s gonna be a little lost for a while. So I need you to be a man. I need you to be the one I don’t worry about.”
He put one hand on my shoulder and turned me to face him. For the first time, in a long time, he looked a lot more like my father, the man I remembered from my youth, than my old man. The old man was stern, but he was a shadow of the man who brought me up. He looked me in the eye.
“I need you to keep an eye on your brother and sisters.” he continued. “I’m gonna be traveling an awful lot and your mother is gonna have her hands full with just keeping things running here. So, I need you to man up and take care of this place when I’m not around. And this isn’t optional.”
“Um, okay” I stammered.
And that’s the day I started trying to become a man. When I get there, I’ll let you all know.
thefinn has been "working on it" for twenty some odd years. Archives