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“Karma is a Female Dog”

“Jesus, a nun, and the devil walk into a bar in Elko. (Chapter 5)”

And along came Ashley…

Our advice that dating is a horrible idea when: you’re still living with your parents rent-free, you have no car, you have no job, you have no money, went completely ignored.  He was going to do whatever he wanted to and we simply had to understand.  Now we were expected to allow another nineteen year old in the house for football parties, dinner, games… whatever.  Okay, fine.  We’re sociable people and the small sacrifice to our household code of conduct was worth seeing my son actually smile and fall in love.

Halloween was coming up quick; one of our favorite holidays.  A week prior to the event, Sarah & I told my son that we were invited to a costume party at a friend’s house (ample notice for him to find something else to go do with his girlfriend).  Our little kids were gone for the weekend, so it was time for an adult night.

A few hours before it was time to go, my son started in on us with his infamous “dance around like a fool while I’m trying to ask for a favor, or tell you my latest nutjob idea, either of which will certainly make you cringe and/or roll your eyes.”  So, is it cool if Ashley comes over while you’re at the party?  We’d just watch movies or something…

“Not only NO, but HELL NO.”  Sarah casually explained.

Why, don’t you trust me?  We’re not going to do anything bad.

“Right.  Have you forgotten that I was nineteen a mere six years ago… and your dad not too far behind that?  No way, dude.  We aren’t stupid.”  He finally settled with our request after a few minutes of begging and left with Ashley before the sun went down.  Sarah and I then headed to separate bathrooms to begin donning our costumes.

Her: A slutty-nun outfit. Complete with such funny nunny favorites as torn fishnet stockings, ripped dress, hooker boots, blue eye shadow, and stripper eye lashes.

Me: Jesus.  Complete with holy crucifix hanging around my own neck to celebrate my death, monk’s robe, sandals, 70’s afro-wig, and a glue-on full beard.

Afterwards, the wench and I were hungry and had some time to kill before the party.  We drove to Del Taco for two handfuls of high-class .39 cent soft tacos.  Then we grabbed a 12-pack and headed back home to fill our bellies with alcohol absorbing food.

Lo & behold, we came around the corner that leads to our house, to find Ashley’s car parked out front.  Well, praise Me, and 5 Hail Mary’s to Sarah… lookie what we have here; a breach in contract and utter blatant disregard for respect by the teenagers!  I’ll be dipped in shit and rolled in corn flakes!  These children are going to promptly discover a major lesson we call, “Don’t fuck with The Sarah!”  But wait!  There’s more?!  Oh yes!  The grand prize, Bob!  As we’re pulling into the driveway, they realize they’re completely busted.  Ashley suddenly darts out from my son’s room… clothes in her arms… into the bathroom.

“Oh kids…!  Come out, come out wherever you are!”  After clothing herself, Ashley emerged from the bathroom.  Her tattered hair hung down with her head as she stared at the floor in shame.  My son, on the other hand, hid in is room.  After Sarah eventually convinced him that it’s futile to hide from a tsunami, he came out to explain the truth of why she was in his room, shirtless, and suddenly ran to the bathroom.  She wasn’t feeling good and had to throw up. We didn’t need to know what was lodged in her throat, just as we didn’t appreciate the innuendo of us being complete idiots.  He continued with this story briefly, but Sarah had enough.

“Dude, if you’re looking for your own personal Love Shack, try this:  Get a job, get a car, and get your own place to screw around.  NOT under our roof when we’re trusting you to wear you’re big boy pants and mind the rules!”

It was a beautiful ass-chewing and she nailed the message I’d be giving, if not for currently stuffing my face with cheap tacos while trying to keep the lettuce from sticking to my faux-beard.   The boy returned to his room during one of Sarah’s pauses for breath, leaving Ashley to face the music alone.  We assured her she was still welcome back again, but this type of trust violation won’t be forgiven easily.  She apologized, left, and we finished our meal, slammed a beer, and drove to the party.  The boy stayed in his room, door shut, for the following 35 hours.  No, we didn’t ground him.  He was just hiding.  At the end of his sabbatical I received an apology via email to Facebook.  The end of the note was a direct request to not bring up this embarrassing moment again.

Eventually we all shook hands (a gesture I’ll no longer trust as deal-making again) and pressed forward.

About three months into this venture, he was finally showing faint signs of a mature adult rationalizing his situation logically.  It felt as though our perseverance was paying off and perhaps I’d be earning serious Karma Extra Credit for the earthquakes we’d endured up to this point.   He had formulated a plan to dump his girlfriend, trust that we actually had some sound advice to offer, drop the ego, the sarcasm, the sensitive feelins’, the poor choices, and get an income.  It was a proud moment, indeed.  He had a serious heart-to-heart about how foolish he’d been up to that point.  Fighting off the waves of skepticism (as his extravagant ‘ideas’ were daily, crazy dance included, and never followed through with), we congratulated him for finally starting to ‘get it’.

However, life is a sea of variables.  It sinks, swells, bobs on the tide, gets sucked up by the current, and you never know for sure which shore it’ll wash up on.  One day (and 300 different ‘ideas’ later) I check Facebook to discover both Sarah & I were removed from his account and replaced with none other than his mother and step-dad.  Feelings slightly hurt, I comment on his post by saying, “Gee, isn’t that sweet.”  The reply is amazing: Yeah, isn’t it?  I already told you I didn’t feel comfortable calling you, Dad.  I’m putting my foot down now. It was a completely unwarranted disregard for anything but himself… and then smeared in my face with an insult.  I was blown away.

Two days went by before he finally asked Sarah why I wasn’t speaking to him.  “You hurt his feelings bad.  Don’t you get that?  Suddenly the guy who has been trying to be a father again is no longer your father… just Doug?  He has done nothing to deserve that.”  I came home from work that day to the typical awkwardness of the house.  He tried to offer a hug packaged together with cheesy grin and silly dance, but I wasn’t having it.  I was running out of cheeks to turn and exhausted with the same ol’ shtick.  However, I’m never really one to hold a grudge (until now) especially with family.  I sloppily threw an arm around his shoulder and smiled wearily.  It’s only Facebook, yes.  Petty?  Perhaps.  Is it worth making a huge fuss over?  Not really, considering history has proven even the slightest of constructive feedback never ends well with him.  Before the acceptance of his formal apology was even absorbed into my head, he drops the bomb of bombs on me:  I’ve decided to move back to Elko.

He explains, without much dancing & prancing, that his latest ‘idea’ involves being picked up by his grandmother in a couple weeks to live with them in Nevada.  He wants to ‘mend broken bridges’ with family who, up until recently, had disowned him (or so he says).  Up until this week, he had been referring to his mom by her first name, or “That woman who gave birth to me” and his step-dad was, “The asshole who threatened to kill me last time we spoke, two years ago.”  I’d made a point of never engaging in his trash-talking gossip when it came to his family.  I’ve got enough foresight to know that someday they will be in his life again.  No good ever came from harmful words.

We attempt, in vain, to convince him this is not a good idea.  Elko is the type of town that sucks you in and doesn’t release its grasp easily.  I know.  I lived there seven years and married three times in Elko County.  Perhaps I’m being a jaded fish, but hell sure burns the skin off your fingertips.  Yes, you may or may not patch things up with your family, son, but that doesn’t guarantee it’ll all be sunshine and rainbows going forward.  It could completely backfire… and then where will you be?  Stuck, that’s where.  Stuck in a little town with the same people you were trying to get away from.  His mind was set, though.  He knew it all and wasn’t about to budge.  It’s your life, man.  Good luck with that choice.

A few days and different ideas later, the plan had changed again for the umpteenth time.  He claims that he realized we were right about Elko.  It’d be better to just go down there for a couple of weeks, say hi to everyone, and then come back here with everyone in both states on good terms.  This way he could still celebrate Christmas with us. He’d come back here and continue with the ORIGINAL plan of going to school, getting a job, a license, a love shack to call his own.  Heck, we were already prepared to donate a bunch of furniture to the cause.  Whatever it’d take to make good on our promise to help him out, we’d do it.  We warned him, however, that the influence of Elko will be strong.  Predictably, an intervention will ensue in order to convince him that Boise is not the best place to be.  We stated over and over:  If you’re honestly not planning on coming back here anyway, then just tell us now so we know.  He assured us that the plan would NOT change this time and things would be different when he returned to our house.  He’d even reassured that his step-dad, who would never hesitate to spit in my face, was finally coming to terms with me being back in my kid’s life.

On the morning of his departure we asked that he doesn’t go back to Elko and into a two-face, trash talking, asshole.  Remember what we’ve done for him, keep your siblings who love you  dearly in mind,  and try to relay to your family that I’m not anything like the loser they’ve pigeonholed me as through these long years.  He shakes on it, hugs on it, and gives his word.  He packs his room into one backpack, borrows a microphone for us to use the webcam while he’s gone, and asks that we keep an eye out for the ‘final check’ from the Army expected to arrive any day.  Sure, no problem.  Hopefully we’ll see you soon, dude.  Grandma arrives, hugs are exchanged, and he leaves with a, “Love you guys!”

We quickly learn none of his words or actions amount to a chewed up stick of gum.

…to be continued…