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Why is Daddy Crying?

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Entries in clean room (1)


The Lego Incident

OK…let’s do this. Let’s take a trip back into the lovely childhood of Why Is Daddy Crying.

According to my brother (twitter name @ibeenorm) it’s about 1985ish. My father, an alcoholic Realtor at the time, was on his way home from wherever he was.

Our stay at home mom, well, she was stuck in hell trying to raise two out-of-control boys.

Looking back, if it were me, I’d have tossed myself off the tallest bridge just after stapling a note to the kids’ chest warning the next possible parent.

But she endured, doing what she did best…kicking our asses with wooden spoons and threatening us with “when your father gets home…”

On this particular day, our rooms had breached the limit of absolute horror and our mother had asked us politely clean to them.

Clothes, shit-stained underwear, and god knows what else were thrown around our rooms.

My brother, well, he had a slight Lego obsession. He’s just over two years older than me and the boy could build the hell out of anything with Legos.

And, he also didn’t give a rat’s ass about keeping his room clean.

Me, being the second child, I got to watch and learn from his mistakes.

So, when he didn’t clean his room, I did…very quickly.

As a result, my room got cleaned while next door my brother had gone ahead and adopted the “go fuck yourself” strategy and enjoyed a few hours of reading and relaxing.

Once Days of Our Lives was over, my brother got sternly reminded by our mother that “you’d better clean your room. Your father’s gonna be home soon!!!”

Me: “Dad’s gonna kick your ass. You should seriously start cleaning.”

Brother: “Lick my balls dip-shit.”

We loved each other dearly.

The sun began to set. The house was filled with the smoke of my mother sucking down one Lark cigarette after another. I gave my room a quick once-over, then slowly peeked into my brother’s room only to find him fast asleep still surrounded in his dungeon of disgust.

Then, the dreaded sound of my father’s wood-paneled station wagon pulling into the garage brought the house to stand still. My back straightened, my mom started preparing his rum and Mr. Pibb drink to hand him at the door, and my brother…slept.

I could hear a muffled conversation taking place downstairs. Then, the footsteps began.

My 6-foot, 6-inch tall, overweight father could drop his feet in a way that would even make Winston Churchill shit himself a little.

I hurdled my bed, poked my head in my brother’s room quickly and loudly whispered “get up asshole, he’s coming!!!”

I then threw myself back in my room in front of neatly arranged books as though I were studying.

Bypassing my room he headed directly to my brother’s .

Dad: “One hour!!! ONE HOUR!!!! That’s how long you have to pick-up everything in this room! Do you hear me?!!! Anything left on the floor gets thrown out the goddamn window!! NOW CLEAN!!”

I’m pretty sure every child within the two-block radius of our house suddenly felt compelled to clean their rooms without knowing fully why.

My brother? Nothing. Nada. Zip.

It was times like this during our childhood that I contemplated whether my brother had a death-wish.

Like clockwork, an hour passes and my father stands. The sound of the chair sliding across the floor, the loud thuds of his steps...I can remember it all like yesterday.

I do a quick check of my brother’s room and still no change. Our eyes meet quickly and I try to form the words “I’ll try to come visit you in the hospital” but they just won’t come out.

I watch my father steam past my room angrily chewing on the filter of his Lark cigarette and fueled by rum. And then all hell breaks loose.

At the top of his lungs he begins screaming at my brother. I hear the window slam open and a loud BANG as his screen goes crashing two stories down to the ground.

For a minute I wonder if my father used my brother to aid in the removal of the screen, but he didn’t, because that would have been too kind of a punishment.

Then it begins to happen. My father takes arm full upon arm full of Legos and tosses them out the window.

“I told you and I meant it goddamn it! EVERYTHING’S going out the damn window and then you’re going to clean it ALL up!!” he yelled as little plastic multi-colored pieces took flight into the crisp night air.

I could only imagine what it looked like from the street. A part of me wondered if there weren’t children standing below holding out large pillowcases catching pounds upon pounds of Legos as they floated gently from the sky above while singing carols and sucking on lollipops.

A quick glance out of my window revealed that clearly wasn’t the case. They were going everywhere on the lawn, in the bushes, under piles of leaves, into the neighbor’s yard…everywhere.

Then, it ended.

My father threw a few more choice phrases at my brother, then steamed out and back down the stairs to keep sucking on his half-gallon of rum.

After making sure the coast was clear I slowly tip-toed towards my brother’s room. My jaw dropped further and further as more and more of my brother’s room revealed itself to me. Finally, I was standing in the doorway looking at a bed, desk, shelves and nothing else. A breeze blew through the open window and my brother was just standing there completely defeated.

His room was spotless.

Me: “Well, he did a pretty good job.”

Brother: “Shut-up dick.”

Over the next few days and weeks my brother recovered a good portion of his Legos. His room stayed relatively clean for a couple days. Then, slowly, it returned to its natural chaotic state.

And, for the next few years before we both headed off to college, never to return home again, we would occasionally come across a lone Lego piece. It would be lying in the grass, hidden in the bushes, or one would shoot out from the side of the lawn mower.

I’d always pick it up, pocket-it, and take time later that day to leave it on my brother’s pillow.

A reminder of one of many glorious days in-which our father made a special memory with his boys.