I have come close to parenthood twice in my life. The first was horrifying teenage time that included the words “I’m” and “late” that I suspect many people have but no one talks about because when you are young and dumb, well… I think I just explained it.
During the second time I dated a woman with a child, a little boy that I loved very much. That’s a personal story and belongs way back on the beaches of Florida, so I am not telling it here. I just wish to say… I dunno. I guess give context to my experience? I have never had kids of my own, but I sorta know the fear of expecting and the joy of having... Most parents would say, no, not unless it was my own, but I guess I can only live by my experiences that dwell in my heart.
When Ocean’s husband, Daryl Penn, stopped at my house last night, drunk off his ass and woke me up by sobbing on my porch… I just did not have the heart to kick him out. I did have the heart to just throw a blanket on him and knock him out, but I walked him inside and listened to him mumble.
I called Ocean and told her he was here, “No, I got him. Just the boys tonight, Oce.”
He said a lot of things and I had a few whiskey’s to get in the right frame of mind. Daryl loves Ocean. I know that because nobody gets that type of drunk over someone they just tolerate. Mumbling, crying, bubbling giggle drunk.
“I’ma be a daddy and I don’t know it,” was the theme of my improptu shower. We toasted to that several times.
Then things took a bit of a turn. Somber notes began playing on the orchestration of his affair and he started talking about his father. Made me think of my own.
“Didn’t get him much. You know?” Daryl said, “We just didn’t get each other. Quiet folk. Like to be off and quiet. When something don’t work out quite right, best leave it alone, right?”
He looked at me and I nodded. He hit some strings in me, then beat me down with the next breath.
“What if I’m like my daddy and he’s not what I expect and I stop loving him?” he said.
We were both silent, silent men the sons of silent men. I know my father loves me, he has made up for his stoicism growing up. It seems Daryl’s never could. I could tell him his daddy loved him in his own way, but that proves nothing. Helps nothing. Just makes anger breed.
He passed out in the chair my own father likes to read Mississippi Hunting in. Head dropped to the right and drooling, the television on in front of him. Fumes baking the air around him with alcohol.
When he woke early I offered him breakfast. He nodded. We ate in quiet. I told him I called Ocean last night and he nodded. Not the first or the last time.
He left just in time to go home, get a shower and get to work. I never asked what put him out drinking on a Sunday night, what kept him from going home to a pregnant wife.
Didn’t have to. I get it.