Sharing the Soap
When I was a little girl and my father would drink, he would trap his children into listening to his stories. His children were all that was left after the company went home and my mother had gone to bed with a final parting shot, “I’ve heard them all before.” One by one, my brothers would slip out of his grip along with my sister. I always felt obligated to stay. The man did provide for us after all, regardless of how meager those provisions were. Unfortunately the stories were either too dull, over my head, or a bunch of words my young brain could not apply enough meaning to, to be interesting. The gist of most of his stories was typical of most men, he was the hero of some situation or he was the victim. Of course, when a man is a victim it is not victimy-victim stuff as when females are victims, —-it is injustice!
As the nights grew darker and I no longer proved to be enough of an audience, he would get out the address book that was kept close to the phone. In the early years, I was happy to stay in the room when he made those telephone calls. It made me feel good to know that he was talking to people that we had not heard from in some time. I liked catching up on the latest. However, I would not be put on the phone because children did not do such things. If anything, I was the target of whatever verbal snipe he needed to make to counter any offense he felt from the other end of the phone.
As I got older, around ten or eleven, those phone calls became painful. Painful because even though I did not have words for my feelings and was annoyed that my mother would leave my father in the dining room alone, with phone book in hand, I could sense something else happening. I was able to understand that my father was drunk and was calling people who did not want to talk to a drunken man.
Soon I grew too old to be patient with him any longer. By the time I was twelve or so, and my father would ask for the address book, I would leave the room in pretense of looking for the book. Then I would hide until enough time had passed and he was in bed. I could not take one more time of hearing him answering someone on the other end of the phone asking, “Mike who?”
*Title’s allusion. Do keep up!