Memoir: The time that Dad crashed

Dan Gold,

The time that Dad crashed he wasn’t drunk. He was driving the big white van on the freeway to see his gold-digger lover. Drinking wasn’t the cause of his evil, his main sins of choice were pride and lust. The pride resulted in vicious ego contests with Mom and the lust manifested in affairs, along with a creepy undercurrent of incest. I think he only did what had been done to him and he never decided it was wrong. He was programmed into violence and pedophilic fondling. He never crossed the boundary into rape or penetration, I’m eternally grateful for that. I wouldn’t have survived that from him. I barely mentally survived as a witness to his irrational violence against everyone I loved in our family.

The big white van was like a character accomplice in our story, it went on various troubled adventures with him. He kidnapped cousin Steve and another time our youngest Aunt with it, it was his go to getaway vehicle. But it didn’t survive this time, it was totaled, crumpled, left for dead on the highway. I imagine it was towed away and scrunched into a metal cube like a Transformer never to morph alive again. The swerving unbolted roller coaster bench inside would never again tilt suddenly forward or lurch violently sideways again. Our classic serial killer reminiscent van, finally was murdered.

He ended up with a slashed scar, after the gory, plastic threaded stitches were removed, a permanent line, like a miniature mountain range, raised across his graceful eyebrow and forehead. The line remained slightly swollen even after it healed. Mom said god left it there like a mark of Cain to remind him: of where he was going, what he was doing, how wrong it all was. But he knew that already, that’s obviously why he did it, to spite her, put her in a subjugated place. He cheated on her to make her feel ugly and rejected, he said it so often, within earshot of us. And he said it while laughing, that was his style, to kill you with a smile, attack with a passive aggressive joke.

We knew it all, especially things that we shouldn’t have known. We saw all their masks of survival. We were their untrained therapists, as if we were created to make them feel better about life. We kept them going on with the hope that we represented. We provided a future meaning to their unfulfilled workaholic, war torn sacrificial lives. It wasn’t their fault that their marriage was forced upon them, but we too lived through the guise, the inherited curse; attending to their wounds while still bleeding. We needed them too: to pull through, change, improve, stop raging, stop criticizing, stop lying, stop touching, stop hating, stop hitting, stop using us, to make it all stop.