I came in this afternoon from the cafe. My dad was home, sitting in the family room with the big TV on. He had a beer in his hand and his feet up on the coffee table, the way used to never dare to do because Mom might catch him. He really loves that TV. It takes up practically the whole wall, and there are speakers hidden all over the room, under the furniture, on the shelves. He’s got the big dish antenna, so he can get like a thousand channels, not the three or four from Grand Forks like so many people. And with all those speakers, when there’s a loud sound and whatever he’s watching, like an explosion, the whole house booms. Which is really fucking annoying when you’re trying to get a little sleep, which is what I was heading upstairs to do, before I had to head over to the Uptown to work tonight.
Stupid me for trying to disturb the king in his court. He was watching a war movie, of all things, so I asked him if he could turn it down a little, I needed to catch a few Z’s. He said, “What are you doing — sleeping in the middle of the day?” I first wanted to say, “What are you doing? Sitting on your ass in the middle of the day?” But I didn’t. I might as well have. Because when I said I needed to sleep a little before I had to go to work again, he started in on that, too. If I wasn’t such a loser and I hadn’t wasted a good college education and I’d worked a little harder at basketball instead of taking naps in the afternoon, who knows where I’d be now. We’ve had this argument ten or fifteen times now, but it still gets him all worked up every time he gets on the subject. I’m glad he’s so inspired. The more he goes off on me about it, the more sure I am how wrong he is.
He thinks being successful is obvious by the fact that he can sit on his ass all afternoon and watch TV and I have to take a nap so I can go work a low-paying job at a bar. Or by the fact that maybe he’ll retire soon, when the plant closes down and he gets a fat severance and sells off the family homestead and goes off to sit in front of a different huge TV in Florida or somewhere warm like that and he maybe gets off the couch a few times a week to play golf. I don’t know what the hell he thinks is so admirable about sitting on your ass while everyone else around you has to work hard. He told us all our lives that we were lazy and we needed to work harder, but when you look at it, it’s like his dream in life is to be the laziest motherfucker in town. If there’s work to do, I’d rather be helping. Whether or not it pays a fat salary doesn’t make it better or worse.
I decided not to get into it with him. I just went upstairs and ignored him. The sun was streaming in through the windows, extra bright because the fields all around are still white with snow. I curled up in bed under the blanket and tried to get a little sleep. I’d start drifting off, and then a bomb would go off downstairs in that damned war movie he was watching and it would wake me back up. And I’d start having that same argument in my head all over again. Pretty soon I was so wound up, I just gave up. Put on a new pain of jeans and a new shirt, grabbed my coat and went out through the back door. Didn’t say goodbye, just got in my truck and drove off. I drove halfway to Devil’s Lake, and then turned around started turning off on different county roads, driving through all the half-gone towns between there and here. The roads helped me unwind. It was a beautiful afternoon and they were clear, black lines cut across the rolling white prairie. By the time I pulled up at the Uptown I was feeling pretty good. I think I need to find a different place to catch a nap, though. Going to have to drink a lot of coffee to keep it up after midnight.