My sister and I took my father out for an early Father’s Day celebration at our favorite local Pho place, and he remarked, as he often does when we take him for pho, that he still cannot believe he waited until he was 70 years upon this Earth before trying pho. He is not fond of Chinese food, you see, and having been married more than 40 years to a woman who loved Chinese food more than air, he had to choke it down without complaint because it made her happy. In his mind, Chinese food and pho were interchangeable. That’s weird, but okay. They both tend to have restaurants who spell out their letters with similar fonts, and if you don’t go in to try the food, how else are you going to judge? He went along with us to the Pho place the first time expecting to enjoy nothing but our company and to his surprise, pho is freaking amazing and he loves it.
The point he likes to make is that although he has known since he was a young man that it is wrong to let prejudice about people direct your world view, he has happily adopted prejudices about pretty much everything else. It is only in the past ten years, he says, that he has truly begun to explore what he thinks, likes, dislikes and believes about the world around him. Here are some of his discoveries:
It pays to be adventurous when it comes to food. Pho is awesome. A couple drops of Pure Evil in your morning tea will perk up a man’s entire day. An all-natural peanut butter, honey and crispy mealworm sandwich is both nutritious and surprisingly delicious. (Okay, that one needs some background. When Posey, my hedgehog, was alive, this was our favorite evening snack. Dad came down to the kitchen while I was preparing it and stole a bite. Now that Posey is gone, I have no reason to keep buying mealworms, but sometimes I miss our late-night snacks).
It’s not ‘a waste of time’ if you’re with friends and having fun. Similarly, any way that you can connect with people can be seen as being ‘with’ them. Crude humor can be funny if it’s not aimed at hurting someone (discovered this one playing Cards Against Humanity for the first time, and as a side note, yeah, he won).
Writing great literature can be quite a different thing from telling a great story. Great stories can be found anywhere, not just in books. (Side note: Games like Little Nightmares, Inside, Oni and the Blind Forest, and Unraveled have really broadened my father’s video game horizons. I think he used to think literally all I played was The Sims, World of Warcraft and horror games.)
The body grows old with or without your permission. The mind only grows old when you let it. Let curiosity, wonder and kindness in, and you will never really grow old.
Love you, Dude. Happy Father’s Day.
For those of you reading my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part 3: Children of Mammon, the new chapter is up at fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org, so head on over and check it out. If you’re still undecided about whether or not a fanfic based on the world of Five Nights at Freddy’s can possibly be any good, probably nothing I say is going to change your mind, but maybe my father’s words about letting go of prejudices and trying new things will encourage you to at least read this snippet, and whatever happens after that will happen.
Ana dreamed of endless crawling through a maze of ducts, pursued by some unseen thing that seemed at times to be a swarm of rats and sometimes a giant version of Plushtrap and sometimes, the worst times, a broken animatronic endoskeleton with her mother’s skin wrapped around it and stuffed with dead leaves and wires. As with all dreams of that sort, no matter how fast she crawled, it was just a little faster, closing the distance between them until she could see her shadow growing long before her as its eyelight burned on her back and feel the vibrations of its heavy body lurching and banging just behind her. Then its hand closed on her ankle—metal bones and gnawing rat-teeth—and she fell on her face, clawing in desperation at the rubbery pad as it dragged her back toward its jaws. She began to scream, proof this was just a dream, and it screamed back at her in many voices made of static and screeching and Freddy’s cheerful baritone singing—
“GOOD MORNING, GOOD MORNING, GOOD MORNING TO YOU! OUR DAY IS BEGINNING, THERE’S SO MUCH TO DO!”
Ana opened her eyes, disorientated to find herself in the curtained safety of her ‘room’ beneath the table in the dining room and not the ductwork maze. Was this a new chapter of the dream? No, she was definitely awake; she had the bruises, the full bladder and the headache to prove it. But the animatronics were singing and that meant…
Stunned, Ana pushed the curtain aside and immediately had to throw up her hand as a shield against the sun’s rays. The actual sun, not just its diffused light, peeking in at her over the roofless walls.
“No!” But Ana’s watch dispassionately told her, ‘Yes.’ It was eleven o’clock.
Her headache instantly got worse.
“Bonnie!” Ana groaned, snatching at her jeans as she kick-clawed her way out from under the table. “How could you?” she demanded, glaring at Bonnie as he sang and twitched and strummed his stringless guitar. “You had one job! Wake me up before you go to sleep!”
Bonnie twitched harder, stuttering out of sync with the others.
“You know what kind of time-crunch I’m under,” she complained, yanking up her jeans and trying to step into her boots at the same time. “I just lost five hours, thanks to you! Half a fucking day! God!”
Freddy lowered his microphone, mid-verse, and said, “DON’T. YELL. AT. HIM.”
“I’m not yelling and why not?” she added, turning on him with a glare every bit as fierce as his. “Should I be yelling at you instead? Did you tell him not to wake me up?”
“PUT. YOUR. CLOSED. ON.”
Ana glanced at the sports bra she’d been using for a pajama top, rolled her eyes and stomped over to the other side of her table to check her cardboard cubbies. No clean shirts. She picked through the dirty ones, sniffing until she found one she could stand to put on. She needed to make a laundry run, but not today, obviously. No time to drive to the laundromat or enjoy a hot breakfast at Gallifrey’s. Eleven o’clock. Jesus. “You did, didn’t you?” she grumbled. “You told him not to wake me.”
“YOU. NEEDED. TO. SLEEP.”
“No, asshole, I need to get the fucking roof on! And you seem to think I have all the time in the fucking world to do it!”
Freddy’s eyelids slanted slowly down. “DO. NOT. TALK. TO. ME. LIKE. THAT.”
“I’ll talk to you any way I want! Apparently, it doesn’t even matter what I say around here because you’ll just do whatever you feel like doing and to hell with me. Do you understand that I am not supposed to be here? That I am breaking the goddamn law?”
“Kids have always come out to fuck around at the quarry. There will never be a time when I can count on not being seen when I’m up on your roof. Got that? And do you understand that this kind of work is noisy and cannot be hidden? Can! Not! Do you?”
“DON’T. YELL. AT. ME.”
“Do you understand that the next opportunity to use fireworks as cover is in fucking January when there could be three fucking feet of snow on the ground? Excuse me,” she interrupted herself sourly and then shouted, “On the fucking floor!”
Freddy looked up, but not at the roof or the lack of one. His expression was a perfect plastic facsimile of Rider’s God-give-me-strength-not-to-slap-a-bitch stare. “YOU. NEEDED. SLEEP,” he said when he dropped his gaze to her again.
“No, I don’t. That is why I have a can of coffee and half a case of Redline in the other room! You know what else I don’t need? I don’t need a goddamn babysitter! You want the roof on?”
“Then let me do it and stop trying to control me!”