By Anthony Paull
I don’t need to know if my dad is horny. It’s just something that comes up in conversation at dinner every night, which is why I don’t have an appetite lately.
Dad thinks I have an eating disorder, that I’m on a penis-only diet because it beats being a vegan. But I don’t care. I can’t help but gag every time he informs me he wants to screw one of my girlfriends. I’m sorry, but it’s just not normal to listen to your father boast about how he can care for your friends’ sexual needs. “If you’re not gonna nail them, I will,” he says. “Shit, someone has to.” Yes, he’d like to rock their worlds. But, he won’t wear a condom. No. He’s too massive for that. “What can I say? The damn things just don’t fit.”
“Please, Dad. You’re not that big. I’ve seen it.”
“When did you see it?”
“Good lord. If you’re going to shower on the porch, I’m bound to be blinded by it sometime.”
“Well, bring over some of those girls. I’ll blind them too.”
Hence, why I don’t invite my friends over often. It’s just too risky. My dad has a way of bringing out the “crazy” in everyone. Living with him, I find myself talking in circles about sex and women more than any gay man would care to admit. The other night, we were actually debating on whether Hillary Clinton would be good in bed. My vote was no, which started an argument, because he found that unpatriotic. Hence, this is why I go out a lot. I need to fend off the crazy gene. But lo and behold, I have discovered being unstable can be attractive to some people.
For example, my friend Doug’s new thing is to only date people with mental illness. It’s a defense mechanism, ensuring the relationship will never go anywhere. This is how he keeps himself guarded from falling in love. He’s been hurt too much. Therefore, bi-polar guys are white hot, particularly when they’re not on their meds. “It’s exciting,” he informs me at the pub. “I met one the other night, and he’s been so unpredictable.”
“Is that a good thing?” I ask.
“Well, it beats being in a boring relationship. Last night, I went to his house for dinner, and he had a mannequin coming out of the ceiling in his room. It was just hanging there. There was one in the kitchen too. Isn’t that awesome?”
“Um, that depends. What does he do with the mannequins?”
“Oh, they’re not for him. They’re for his mother. She lives with him. She likes to brush their hair. He only plays with them…sometimes.”
“That’s nice,” I digress, taking a slug of beer. I’d offer more, but I’m thinking of my own predicament, growing heavy with anxiety. Will this happen to me? One day, will I become my dad? I’m already talking like him. What’s next? Will I be showering nude, waiting on some young tail to spot me?
“Do you think I should keep dating him?” Doug asks me, a week later. “I really like him, but he’s acting more like his mom. The other night, I heard her talking to a mannequin, and when I asked him about it, he got insulted and said, ‘She only talks to the mannequins if they talk first.'”
I should know better, but I can’t help but ask. “Has he heard the mannequins talk?”
“Yes, but he’s not crazy,” Doug says, defending him. “He knows enough not to talk back.”
To which, I decide, maybe it’s time to have a talk with dad. If possible, I’d like to stop the direction in which we’re heading as a family. I want to make it very clear that I’m not cool with talking about sex, particularly when the conversation turns to anything sexual about my friends.
“Dad, you know, it’s not normal for a father to talk to his son about sex every night. I mean, you’re not supposed to actively try to sleep with my friends.”
“Why not?” he asks. “They don’t know what they’re missing.”
“I get it, dad. But I…I just want to talk like a normal family.”
“You think there’s a “normal” family out there? Find me one. There’s nothing normal about families,” he says. “If there were, your mother would still be alive, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
I suppose he’s right. What is normal anyway? Since childhood, I’ve felt like each day has added another pavement crack in our family preservation. A long time ago, my family life consisted of a home-cooked meal every week night and church on Sunday. Now, we eat from microwaves and talk about my girlfriends’ tits. I can’t tell if it’s normal. Maybe it’s part of growing up. Whatever the case, I guess I shouldn’t worry about it. I should just be happy that Dad’s starting the conversation. And who knows? Maybe I won’t go crazy if I don’t talk back.