The inspiration for this post can be found on Aric’s blog.
There are times in your life when your impression of someone completely changes. It may be something they say, they do, or just from your own experience.
It may take years for your impression of them to change, you know, suddenly you just realize one day “hey, they aren’t how I thought they were.” Or, it may be sudden and instant.
For me, when I was 14, my impression of my father changed instantaneously. A blink of the eye, so to speak.
I’m pretty sure it was a November day, because it was hunting season. I don’t hunt. Nor does my father. But the neighbor kids who lived across the street did, and they always cut through our yard to get to the woods beyond our house.
As always, before I get to the nugget, here’s some history…
First, my father. I am my father, there is no denying it. While I get my love for reading and being stubborn sonuvabitch from my mother’s genes, the rest of it is my dad. Laid back, good looking (damn skippy), easy going and patient. Loads of patience. It may not seem that way, but I am a very patient person. Just like the old man. But it is important not to confuse patience and easy going with weakness, as some do.
Now, the neighbor kids were two brothers who, for the most part, I used to get along with. But one day, they pretty much kicked my ass. I can’t remember the reason, and it may have been my mouth or it may not have. Either way, two against one is a shitty fight either way you look at it. So, as one could imagine, our family wasn’t on too good of terms with their family.
So, back to the grill, it was November, I was 14, I had loaded up my bike in the back of my dad’s truck because he was going to take me to a friends house and Ralph, the older of the brothers, was cutting across our property to hit the woods for some hunting. Gun in hand and dog at side.
My dad noticed him and said (more to himself), “That bastard. I’ve told them to stay off my property.”
“HEY!” My dad yelled to Ralph, “Wait a minute!”
Ralph looked at him, smirked, and kept walking.
My dad looked at me and said, “You wait right here,” and briskly walked over to Ralph, cutting him off.
It’s weird how your body works sometimes. I shouldn’t have heard what they were saying, as they were probably 30 feet away from me, but I did. I heard every word and nothing else, just their words. It was as if I were in a vacuum.
My dad was directly in front of Ralph and said, “I told you before to stay off my property. Now turn around and get the hell off it.”
Ralph, who was about 16, said, “This isn’t your property.”
“See that fence,” my dad said, pointing. “That’s my neighbor’s fence. His property starts on the other side of that fence. Everything on this side of the fence is mine. That’s how it works.” To say he said it in a condescending tone would be an understatement.
“Whatever,” Ralph said, and took a step.
My dad put his hand on Ralph’s shoulder. “No. Turn your ass around and get off my property.”
Ralph took a step back and looked at my father. Then he looked down at his dog and back at my father. He took another step back and pointed at my father. “GET HIM, GRIZ!”
The dog looked at Ralph, then at my father, back at Ralph. Then he wagged his tail.
My dad burst out laughing. “Smart dog.”
I was loving every minute of this. Then I wasn’t. One second it was funny, the next I saw something that scared me more than anything else in my life.
Ralph swung the gun he was carrying up to my dad’s chest.
“I’ll shoot you where you stand, you son of a bitch,” he said.
My dad didn’t even look at the gun. He kept his eyes on Ralph. Then he took his left arm and knocked the gun to the side.
“Get off my property.” He said. He didn’t yell it. He didn’t shout it. He just said it.
Ralph gave him one more glance and turned around and walked home.
At that moment…
At that instant my dad became Superman. There was no two ways about it. My dad was the fucking man.
My dad watched him walk off and came back to where I was standing by the truck.
I just looked at him. “Uh huh.”
He looked down at me. “What’s wrong with you?”
Huh? What’s wrong with me? I just watched this guy stand down a fucking gun and he asks me what’s wrong with me. I didn’t have the words.
“Well get in the truck and let’s go.” He said, slipping into the driver’s seat.
What can you say when you don’t have the words?