Today is the last day of summer and I'm feeling ponderous about the past again. Remembering the fall as a kid when life went back to crazy after my brother and I spent nice, semi-normal summers with our grandparents. Fall was back-to-school. I always had butterflies in my stomach on the first day of school. I would have a hard time eating or sleeping. I'm still the same way when I have something important going on at work. For example, I have to travel on Wednesday this week and all I can think about is getting it over with. Thankfully I only have to travel about 10% of the time....which is 10% too much for me. It's just not my thing.
But I digress. About this time of year, there would be parent-teacher conferences at school. I lived with my mom until I was almost 8 years old. She was never really into conferences or, I guess, never really into me. One year, she did try to be semi-interested. She had to work at the bar so she sent her boyfriend, Ed, in her place. Weird enough to send your boyfriend, but the best part was the way that he acted. Ed got me and my brother in his pickup truck and set out down the street to the school. Fortunately the school was less than half a mile away. Back in those days, seatbelts were optional, so I'm quite sure we were not strapped in. In fact, I can remember crawling around the truck cab so I am absolutely sure that we were not wearing seatbelts.
We arrived at the parent-teacher conferences with a very jovial Ed. They also had some sort of table set up and activities for kids at the school, presumably for those children who showed up with their parents. To give you a picture of what Ed looked like, imagine a guy in his early 20's (mom's "younger man") and a very carefree attitude, longish 70's hair and a scruffy moustache. Ed was very handsome and not terribly responsible. Definitely the kind of guy with some Ted Nugent 8-tracks in his pickup. I thought Ed was wonderful. He was in a great mood and greeted our teachers with enthusiasm. Some of them looked at him funny, but I thought he was lots of fun.
The rest of the evening is a little foggy or possibly just insignificant. We woke up the next morning (a Saturday) and something was off. Ed was in the hallway patching a hole in the wall. My mom was nowhere to be found....pretty typical for any day, really. I went to the living room to watch cartoons and my brother filled me in. He would have been about 9 or so at the time. I was about 6 years old.
"What's going on? What's Ed doing?"
"Oh, he punched a hole in the wall last night. Didn't you hear that?"
"No. Why would he do that?"
"Mom was mad at him for taking us to conferences drunk. They got in a fight and he got mad and punched a hole in the wall," my brother said calmly.
"Oh," I responded.
"So, I think Mom broke up with him but she's making him fix the wall."
"Well, yeah, I guess he should fix it," I was thoughtful for a moment, "What's drunk?"
"It's when someone drinks a lot of beers and they act silly."
....and that was the last time I saw Ed.
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