Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Terrible Tempered Mr. Bang

My brother (my personal hero and the funniest and smartest guy I know) just told me two stories about my father that I'd never heard:

#1. Nuns. My father was a construction worker, and sometimes worked jobs a good distance away from our little home town. Once he was working a job in Pittsburgh (35 miles away) and needed my brother (a teenager at the time) to drive up and pick him up. He would let my brother drive home, as well.

On the way home, driving through the residential section of the city, they saw a nun walking on the sidewalk. Out of nowhere, Dad rolls down the window and starts cussing a blue streak at this poor sister. I mean, a full blown foul rant -- completely scorches the earth, never stopping, even as my brother sped away, red-faced.

Yes, sports fans, my Dad cursed nuns. Any nun. All nuns. All the time.

Apparently, anytime he saw a penguin in public, no matter what the occasion, he let fly, questioning the Good Sister's ancestry, her dietary habits and hygiene and the precise nature of her relationship with Our Lord Jesus Christ Almighty, as well as the residents the of the local Marine Corp base, the homeless in the neighborhood, and the inhabitants of the area dog shelter. Boy, did my dad know how to cuss.

Now I always knew that my dad was raised in an orphanage, but I didn't know (until now) that it was a Catholic orphanage. I realize those nuns could be tough, but whoa, they really left an impression on my old man. And I'm glad that there wasn't a convent within 30 miles of our home town. Really glad.

#2. Traffic. On another such trip to pick up my father, my brother was stopped at a red light, the first car in the lane. When the light turned green, the rude guy in the car behind them honked the horn impatiently, before they had a chance to move.

My dad reached over, threw the car into Park, and told my brother, "Wait here." He jumped out of the car, stomped back to the car behind them, reached into the window and commenced to pummeling the driver. Just pounded his face a dozen times or so.

He returned to the car, and calmly told my brother, "Let's go!"

#3. What We've Learned. After considering these two amusing anecodotes about my paterfamilias, many things become clear. My brother and I both suffer from indescribable and near-uncontrollable fits of irrational anger that take all our willpower to surpress. Many daily commutes end with me wanting to reach forward and throttle the screaming child/cell-phone bathering dullard/squawky little old lady whose misfortune it is to have ended up in front of me. For no reason! The desire to knock heads together at work, et al, nearly drives me to apoplexy. I have actually experienced the rare "conniption fit," that Grandma used to talk about. Oh boy! Got it from Dad! Yay!

Admittedly the Old Man had a hell of a tough life. Orphanage, dubious career as an amateur boxer, tail-gunner in WWII on way too many missions, and was forced to attempt to control his brain-crippling fury while Mom raised four howling heathen under his nose. (He was not always successful.) None of it all is particulalry pretty.

But I got to admit ... and I'll probably smoke a turd in purgatory over it ... but once, just once I wish I would have seen him curse a nun.


penny said...

WOW!! The things we learn about our folks!!! I, too, wish I could have seen your dad curse out Sister Smell-my-feet-a (Elenita) or any of the others that gave me the horrid memories of Infant Jesus of Frog (I mean Prague) Elementary School....

nootsmaak said...

Holy crap that was funny, and yet poignant... as only you can give us. I love the stuff I hear from my Dad these days, things he never shared with us in his pre-golden years. Before they were parents (and during) they were (and are) interesting, complex people. It's nice to be reminded of that, and to learn where you get your own bits of madness.

Rooty Toot Toot said...

Now I'm really stuck, too. Saw a nun on the subway last week and really REALLY wanted to tell her to go @#$ herself. I had to go home and rant at EWTN on the television just to get it out of my system. Are we who we are destined to be?

nootsmaak said...

As I've been known to say when I hear my voice sounding dangerously similar to my mother's, "It's in the DNA!"

Some of it - us - is our own creation - everyone is fundamentally unique - but when I find myself becoming exasperated by stupid things like a sticky cabinet knob - that's Charlotte coming through loud & clear.

The trick, for me, is to keep channeling those other parts of me that aren't like her in those ways.

So, after all this rambling - yes, I think we are who we're destined to be, but that's a result of what we choose to put into that mix.

Now godammit wipe off those cabinet knobs and keep cussing out those mother frakking nuns!!!