For a long time I avoided having to speak on the phone to my father very much by virtue of being unable to accept collect calls without paying a hefty deposit to my phone company. (Never mind the fact that I’ve had the same home phone number and account for fifteen years, or that we’ve always paid the bill, and that a huge deposit to allow us to accept collect calls seems unreasonable in these circumstances, it was convenient for me to just say that I couldn’t do it without paying the deposit). Since he, as an inmate of a correctional facility, didn’t exactly have a regular long distance plan of his own, phone calls were rare. By rare I actually mean they never happened.
And then my father discovered that he could pre-pay for his calls if he had money on his books.
I suppose that one positive thing that I can say about my father is that he has a great work ethic. He’ll work long hours without complaint, and he’ll even ask for overtime. Despite the low wages an inmate receives, he’s got plenty of money on his books to pre-pay for phone calls. Apparently so much that for the next week he intends to call me every single day. Every day because I’m leaving on the first of next month and, pre-paid or not, he won’t be able to call while I’m abroad for the next three months.
Yesterday’s call is still fresh in my mind. Probably because it still has me seething just a little bit.
I suppose the call started pleasantly enough. Within two minutes, though, the tone went downhill entirely. “How’s the weather” turned into “I don’t watch the news any more, it’s too depressing” which turned into “this nation is more wicked than Sodom and Gomorrah before the Lord destroyed it” which then became “It’s not enough that we’ve got all these homos, but now they get to get married, too”.
My dad said the look on my face was enough to make him clear the room.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve known for a very long time that my father is a horrible bigot. I spent a fair few of my formative years in a household where religious, ethnic, and racial slurs were tossed around casually by one parent while the other tried to teach me how hurtful and wrong that behaviour was. I’m thankful that I had my mother to show me what kind of person I wanted to be.
There are a million things that I can think of now that I wish I had said to my father. I’ve had time. Whether I should have been surprised by what he said or not, though, I certainly was. Surprised and angry.
I suppose I should be thankful I have my father to show me what kind of person I don’t want to be.