The Nail that Stands Up Gets Hammered Down

Posted: February 6, 2013 in Acting, Life
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I got into more and more conflicts with Dad, but I started getting into them deliberately. I knew a beating was coming, whether I wanted it to or not, so I decided I would at least control when they came. I eventually got so good a provoking him, I could do almost nothing – or at least, nothing that actually warranted such explosive anger. With Mom, I was almost always agreeable – if I was doing something that Dad didn’t like, and he wasn’t in a position to beat me (as in, if he was in public), he would helplessly bleat for Mom.

Dad: Dooooonnna. Help me. Your son is being difficult…

My anger welled whenever I saw him, and I began venting it in secret – I scrawled missives to him on the undersides of tables and furniture. Things like “DAD YOU ARE A SHIT“. It was the best I could come up with between the ages of 6-8, and it summed up my feelings towards him rather precisely. The messages are still there, incidentally – faded a bit with time, but still carved deep.

He rarely ever hit my brother Tim – I was never sure why, but I suspect that Tim was a bit more amiable than I was. He’d pretty much go along with whatever. Perhaps more to the point, he was a bit more of a “guy” than I was – interested in going outdoors, looking at animals, etc. Dad would resentfully leave me to my reading or music, and take Tim outside. I was fine with that, at least I didn’t have to deal with him. I think he ultimately felt that Tim turned out “right” – into all the appropriate things, for example. My suspicions in this regard were only reinforced by his reaction when Tim told him I had gotten married a few years back. He was surprised. I’m still about 90% sure he thought I’d be gay.

And the money, of course, was an issue. Those two morons – Mom and Dad – had no idea what to do with the money I was making. Even when Dad left, Mom still didn’t know what to do with it. But the only time I ever remember hearing a specific conversation about it was when I was 7. They had pulled over to an ATM and were discussing making a withdrawal.

Mom: We shouldn’t take it out. It’s his.

Dad: Well, we need it.

Mom: But Bob…

Dad: He’ll make more.

Mom sat thoughtfully for a moment.

Mom: I guess you’re right. And he is getting a retirement from SAG.

(Once you were a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild – which I was – a certain portion of what you make gets put into a retirement account for you. A nice little bonus from the union.)

Dad: Exactly. He’ll be set up when he needs it.

I was listening and processing. Finally I piped up.

Me: If you guys need it, it’s fine. I’ll have my retirement from SAG.

Of course, I had no idea what I was talking about in tangible terms – I just knew my parents needed money and I had some. I felt I ought to give them some of mine. I think they had forgotten I was in the car, because they turned and looked at me almost in unison. Mom looked shocked (perhaps that I understood, even in the vaguest terms, what they were discussing), and Dad looked surprised but also kind of pissed. He snatched the ATM card from her hand, leapt out of his Bronco, and slammed the door so hard the car rocked. That was the only serious conversation – then or now – that I ever had with my Mom regarding what to do with the money I was making.


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