As of late, his writing has been knocking my proverbial socks off. When I read his story about Christmas with his dad, it made me hold my breath, from sheer overload. I just flat out love it. The post originally appears here, and it is with Kono’s express permission that I repost it here. Go visit his blog, poke around, get aquainted. (Unless you’re a hipster douchebag who’s going to call him a carpet-bagger. Then, you can hit the bricks.) If you’re a commenting type person, leave a comment on the post at his site, let him know he is much beloved.
Without further ado, I present, for your reading pleasure, “The Wilderness Years – Xmas With My Father”, by Kono.
Click here for more: The Wilderness Years. You can refer to the Late Night Maudlin St. post for the back story or you can just pick it up here but the years following the demise of my nuclear family is what i refer to as the Wilderness years, for both Dad and me it was a strange and rough time, Dad found himself in an apartment on the west side of C-town and i found myself bouncing from place to place, apt. to apt., from migrant beach work to rust belt grunt to self employed purveyor of fine contraband, the big D had hit the old man right in the gut and it was as if i was right there with him, a younger version of Mickey, Rocky Balboa’s trainer, encouraging him to get up off the mat and live, he would, my old man is nothing if not resilient…
But this is not a Sad Panda kind of post so we’ll get on with it… when i was about 11 or so, back in 81 or 82 ye olde family had a garage sale and one of the items up for sale was the old man’s stack of classic Hustler and Penthouse which his young son had already discovered and took a liking to though he was not sure why, of course looking back i can bask in the glow of the pre-Brazilian days of porn when every woman was au naturel , i’m pretty sure mom wanted this out of the house before said boy hit puberty and locked himself in the can to flog himself mercilessly, she put the stack out and charged a dime for each one. They all sold in the first 20 minutes of the garage sale. At one point that fateful morn Mom had to go and hang some signs for the junk show so she cast an icy glare my way and stated that she had counted the stack of magazines and would count them when she returned and that they better all be there, i of course applied best poker face and said, What magazines?
Mom left and i waited for 30 seconds and Carl Lewis’ed it to the garage to get one last peek at the glorious golden age of nudie mags before some lucky bastard trotted off with the lot, of course as soon as the garage door buzzed i dropped the treasure and high tailed it back inside to sit at the kitchen table, sweat dripping down my temples and innocently studying the box of Trix as if i had just discovered the meaning of life and the rabbit himself was espousing on it.
We now fast forward 10 plus years to my Dad’s barren apartment, what i loved about this time was though it could have been another maudlin affair of woe is me and why did it come to this it was some of the best X-mas mornings of my life. No tree, no lights, just me and the old man, boiling water in an old metal pan and drinking shit instant coffee and eating toast cuz all the restaurants were closed and the old man now being a bachelor barely kept any food in the house, we’d sit and have a cigarette, talk about the state of the world, philosophy, books, my mother and his ex-wife, ( of which he never said a disparaging word and encouraged me to re-kindle some kind of relationship with) we’d watch Sportcenter’s Year in Review and Top Plays and when we’d had enough he’d retire to his room to sleep (he worked nights) and i would read on his couch between cat naps, glorious fucking days. The best present we had was each other’s company.
Of course my job as a salesman, off the books of course, gave me just enough extra cash to buy the old man something, it wasn’t the first year more likely the next that i showed up stoned out of my gourd, talking about my fucked up tooth which was on my right side while i stood rubbing the left side of the face, Dad just kind of chucked and said “wrong side son, musta been a helluva drive” and smiled at this gigantic wasted boy of his, i stopped, shook my head, laughed and said by the way i got you a present…
The old man looked at me quizzically, a present? he said, uh-huh i said and proceeded to pull a brown paper bag out of my travel bag and hand it to him, he pulled out the December issue of Penthouse, chuckled and said Alright. That’s not all i added, i got you a subscription and the video should arrive in the mail shortly. The normally unflappable old man looked at me and said no shit. I stood beaming at him like a 5 year old who had just handed his dad an awful tie but this time i was old enough to know that the Old Man was thrilled with his present. I figured it was the least i could do since Mom made you sell all the old ones you used to have. He laughed again and i told him, third drawer down hidden under a couple of t-shirts, i mean shit dad at least i hid mine in a shoe box and covered ‘em with baseball cards when i was at home. He laughed again and gave me a hug and while outside the world was awaiting the impending birth of their savior this x-mas eve and the snow fell on Cleveland, the Old Man and i cracked a couple of beers, heated up some pizza and turned on the tube.