It’s close to christmas once again, and as I walk I wonder how difficult it would be to bite my fingers off one by one if I was so inclined to do so. Today I went to the market and purchased bread and cheese and wine and toilet paper, because I needed the toilet paper but couldn’t fathom making the trip for toilet paper alone (not on christmas eve) although that’s all I really needed to get through today and the next. Two women helped me with my self-checkout purchase – a number higher than what’s required for a traditional check-out lane – and I pitied them both because their lives might never amount to much, although I’m sure they have families at home waiting for them to get done with their shifts. And who really needs to be at the grocery store on christmas eve anyways? They should be with their families. Some things are more important.
I wasn’t always like this – and not too long ago I was far worse. Do you want to know how I got these scars? My kittens sit by me while I write this, and they sit by me while I read. They probably don’t understand all or any of what I went through, because what I went through is pointless to them. They are warm and they are fed, and when I sit with them I remember that it is enough to be warm and to be fed. It helps to be drunk, or high, or even loved, but it is not necessary.
Oh, I wasn’t always like this, and I might not be for much longer, but it hurts when they call me “Grinch.” And anyways, who’s green? I wouldn’t trade my life for yours. But do you want to know how I got these scars? It started with bad parenting – I know it always does, but don’t interrupt me there. It started with bad parenting, and don’t try to tell me some kids had it far, far worse, because I find no solace in miseries worse than my own. It started with bad parenting, which may be unfair to say, since even my own parents meant well at times. Yes, it might seem unfair, but only children can decide if parents were good at parenting, and mine weren’t. That much is true.
I remember my mom going to a christmas party on christmas eve when I was 11, and my dad coming over to babysit. I had been left home alone before, but I guess it’s cruel to leave a child home on the eve of the birth of the god-made-man who (as she was learning in school) had already saved her. I didn’t have much to say to my dad, but I remember him drinking an entire six pack while we sat. Time passed and bottles clang, and I thought about silver bells and holly jolly christmases and maybe how I was pretty sure I never believed in santa claus.
I remember my dad calling to order a second six pack, and although I heard no hooves on the roof when it arrived, and no cookies were exchanged, I could see in his eyes that he had gotten just what he wanted for christmas this year; he must have been a good little boy. I remember when my mom came home and how it all happened so fast and he told me he was a heroin addict, although he was clean now. I thought about rocking around the christmas tree, and a little drummer boy, and maybe how I was pretty sure I couldn’t believe in a god-made-man who had already saved me.
I remember fighting and my mom calling the cops and my dad telling them he always wanted to be a boxer. I don’t know what he dreamed of being when he was growing up. I don’t know if he ever believed in santa, or if he even believed there was a god, or if he couldn’t because he knew he still needed saving. I don’t know what I believed in that night, or how I went to sleep. Maybe visions of sugar plums danced in my head. I know he’s an alcoholic. I know he’s a heroin addict, sometimes recovering, and sometimes not. I know he became my dad when he was 21, although he didn’t ask for it and probably wasn’t ready.
That, in short, is how I got these scars, although they came in many different ways – some of which are fabrications, but still real to me. Next year I’ll tell you about the last present my mother gave me for christmas – it was a hula hoop – but maybe there’s no more to the story than that. Maybe, after that, I’ll tell you about the time I got kidnapped by a cartel while on holiday in the Mexican capital. But the lie detector determined that that was a lie.
That was a lie.
That was a lie.