“I bet my dad could beat up your dad!”
“Yeah. But, I bet my dad could make your dad feel really bad about himself…for like a long time!”
My dad always had a way with words.
“You eating again, fat boy?” his voice would thunder from the back bedroom, where he slept completely in the nude. He never considered this to be odd behavior, despite the house being full of adolescent boys.
Yeah dad, I am eating again; It’s called breakfast. I’m also considering eating again in a few hours if that’s okay! I would think, but not dare say, for fear he would get out of bed, pillow covering crotch, and make his way into the kitchen where he would say something like, ‘What you say smart ass!? You and me are about to go around!’
“All you guys do, is eat…” his voice would trail off and become indistinguishable. I would be left to ponder what other hurtful things he said, while I swallowed my knock-off brand fruity pebbles—Family Gems I think they were called. The makers of the cereal were either oblivious to the obvious innuendo, or all too aware.
I grew up terrified of my father. Not because he was big and strong or had been in a lot of fights—as a matter of fact, I don’t think he was ever in a fight—but because he knew the very words that would turn you into a blubbering titty baby. If you had insecurities, he would pick up on them faster than you could say, ‘scarred for life’. Luckily for my father—and not so lucky for me—I had a lot of insecurities. My father was my first bully, and my first teacher.
I inherited this ability–this power–to pick up on people’s insecurities from my father. If you’re the slightest bit self-conscious, I’ll pick up on it. This was something that came in fairly handy for a fat kid in middle school who found himself the butt of many heavy jokes. Yeah, I am fat, but have you ever noticed how your left, front tooth pushes up past all the rest in a manner that would suggest inbreeding? You haven’t? I’m shocked!
I often found myself making fun of others, because it made me feel better about myself and how I was treated. I wasn’t even clever about it. I would prey on the low hanging fruit. The girl whose parents couldn’t afford to buy her new clothes and nobody would talk to her, except to send their own dim witted barbs her way.
Because of my father, I always have my defenses up; waiting for my moment to strike with just the right words to cut someone down. I use to think it was a power; something that I should be proud of, but now I know it’s nothing to be proud of. It’s sad. I can sense others insecurities, because insecure people can smell their own kind…