the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Wouldn’t Papa Be Proud

So my father (Mike from Tennessee, as my husband likes to refer to him, only because whenever my father calls and leaves a message he says, “It’s Mike from Tennessee,” as if we won’t recognize his voice or as if there are so many other Mikes in our life that he needs to specify “the one from Tennessee”) whom we haven’t seen since before September 11, 2001, has been in town for the last five days. And when the Hamilton family congregates, like we have each and every night for the last five nights, the Hamilton family likes to eat. And so instead of getting into arguments over whether or not George Bush has been called of God to lead America, The Promised Land, here in the Troubled Last Days of Earth, we gag ourselves on enormous portions of grilled meat and non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages, if only to keep from killing each other.

For several days I knew that my father would be spending his last evening in town at our house, and I’ve been cleaning floors and countertops with q-tips and toothbrushes. I may not have seen my father in almost two years, but I can still almost smell the memories of my father’s cleaning habits. He’s the type of person who washes his car during a rainstorm, who refuses to use a dishwasher because if God had intended people to use dishwashers he wouldn’t have given them hands, who used to get down on his hands and knees and polish the entry hallway with his breath and the sleeve of his shirt.

Whenever I spoke to my father this week I mentioned that I was going to have the house spotless when he arrived, and he kept telling me to relax, that he didn’t care about the state of my house, only about spending time with me. And yesterday, when he got out of the car (the car I had detailed at the local full-service car wash, only to come home and go over it with a toothpick and rag again because I was that worried) he walked over to the middle of the yard and immediately began PULLING WEEDS.

I’ve never felt like such a failure.

  • Scott M.

    2003/06/05 at 12:51 pm

    That’s why I’m not going to have kids — because I would probably be just like your father.

  • Alanna

    2003/06/05 at 1:13 pm

    When I know my parents are coming for a visit, I like to pick up the cat shit from the floor…

  • Taylor

    2003/06/05 at 1:18 pm

    Soo God gave him legs and feet to push the pedals on the car. Dishwasher atheists…ANYWAY I think that The Husband looks like Ewan McGregor at the end of Moulin Rouge when he’s all sad and alone with his type writer. v.v. cute!

  • anna jr.

    2003/06/05 at 1:37 pm

    my dad is a psychologist.

    need i say more?

  • sahanjis

    2003/06/05 at 1:51 pm

    Again off topic, but the jar “Benjy” mentions with dooce’s image ghost on eBay has a bid on it for $550,800.
    What the hell is this world coming to!!

  • sahanjis

    2003/06/05 at 1:53 pm

    actually $750,100.

  • Al from Sacramento

    2003/06/05 at 2:07 pm

    never had the same dad around the house for more than a year and mom worked a lot, we all cooked and cleanded, for most of my adult life and through 3 of my marrages until she passed away whenever she came to vist the only thing she ever changed was to bring a new coffee pot and coffee each time, otherwise she would just move stuff out of the when when she needed to and visit with us, I loved her and I miss her.

  • Kristine

    2003/06/05 at 2:49 pm

    1. This man sounds as if he’d fit perfectly with the Avon woman. What’s up with that?

    2. Remember, you are in Utah now. The yard is the man’s responsibility. Your responsibility is to be his help mate, but primarily to become barefoot and pregnant.

    3. I see from your descriptions of your parental units that you come by your personality traits very honestly.

    Enjoy what you can of your dad’s visit. You can choose to be the kid some more or you can laugh at how he is and be the grownup. Good luck.

  • rosebaby

    2003/06/05 at 2:50 pm

    when my dad came to visit last he wanted to help with yardwork (i try to discourage this, especially after the pacemaker). i refused to tell him where the weedwacker was, or some such and i came home from work to find him edging the lawn with kitchen scissors. he’s the most stubborn man i know. it’s where i get it from.

  • rosebaby

    2003/06/05 at 3:02 pm

    ps, read this.

    you will not feel bad after.

  • Xiobhan

    2003/06/05 at 3:45 pm

    My father died in 97 at 56. I would give anything to have him on his hands and knees pulling the weeds on the lawn of my house that he never got to see. That being said, (so no one thinks I’m “invalidating feelings”) my mother has sold my childhood home and is moving out here to be closer to me. TWO BLOCKS AWAY CLOSER. I love my mother, but this is a woman who repainted the ceilings of the closets prior to the first open house. I can’t begin to tell you the fear in my heart now that she will be my neighbor.

  • aravis

    2003/06/05 at 5:30 pm

    My parents ALWAYS inspect my appartment from top-to-bottom every time they visit. If everything is perfect, they (especially my pop) seem a little sad. My solution – leave the monitor and tv screens dirty. My pop whips out the windex, sighs dramatically about how dirty they are, and cleans them til they squeak. He is happy, I am happy. It is all good.

  • beily

    2003/06/05 at 5:44 pm

    your dad reminds me of my mom!

  • Jen

    2003/06/05 at 7:34 pm

    I just think it’s hilarious that he says “It’s Mike from Tennessee.”

  • QueenBee

    2003/06/05 at 7:43 pm

    Oh my God. I looked at the Ebay picture that Benjy mentioned and nearly pissed myself… That’s a doocey ghost, for sure.

  • the mighty jimbo

    2003/06/05 at 8:27 pm

    sounds to me like you have yourself a free groundskeeper and potential maid service.

    i say keep him around.

    what’s a little family stress when you end up with a tidy home?

  • alex kidd

    2003/06/05 at 10:23 pm

    maybe he should be SMOKING WEED. might loosen him up a bit.

  • Shawn B.

    2003/06/06 at 12:10 am

    Why must you insist on tormenting poor Mike by leaving weeds in the flower beds? Sounds like a passive aggressive problem to me.

    Solution: Start selling pot as a side biz and use the money to have the yard done right. This way Mike can feel more comfortable about the state of things, and you can afford to put a better shine of the front he likes to call reality.

  • r

    2003/06/06 at 2:41 am

    Bless his wacky heart — he’s doing the best he can, and as goofy as it may be, he loves you (as I’m sure you know).

    If nothing else, he’s giving you the gift of superb writing material.

  • xiolagrl

    2003/06/06 at 4:54 am

    my dad’s opening line is “hi kate, it’s your dad” as if after 26 years i wouldn’t recognize his voice.

  • Laura

    2003/06/06 at 5:43 am

    Dads spend the first 18 years of our lives being responsible for our survival. They teach us, feed us, house us, love us. And then, we grow up, and they go from being the center of our universe to being fringe, at best. Especially with daughters, who marry, and find men to take care of them (I’m speaking theoretically here) in the same manner that they used to. Your father is doing something that makes perfect sense…he’s trying to be an intimate part of your life the way he was for XX years, and to do SOMETHING/ANYTHING for you. He needs to feel like he’s adding value. So he pulls your weeds. AT least he cares….

  • pinky

    2003/06/06 at 5:48 am

    I think it’s hard for Dads to have daughters all grown up and not needing them anymore. He wants to be useful and necessary, maybe, even though he is some sort of hygiene deviant.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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