October 24, 2006
For quite some time, mail had been popping up in my PO box with Dad’s name on it. Mostly junk mail, catalogs and Publisher’s Clearinghouse letters and other assorted bullshit. Today there was an additional letter for Mom informing her that her credit card application had been denied. That sucked, but what sucked even further is that she hadn’t applied for one, which meant that Dad was up to his old tricks again. He had an annoying habit of opening up credit cards in her name, running up the bill, and sticking us with the collection notices. His way of showing how much he loved her, I guess.
Of course, the real question was how he found out about my PO box in the first place. That was the real reason for him sending his mail there. His way of rubbing it in my face to say, “ooooh, look, I found your PO box!” Nonetheless, I finally decided to confront him about the mail situation (I’d leave the credit card business for Mom to handle). So I marched right over there with one of the collection notices. I knew he wouldn’t admit to anything (he never does) but I was determined to give him a piece of my mind.
I spent a few minutes with Grandma first, and then Dad told me the computer was acting up and could I take a look at it? Sure enough it wouldn’t turn on, but Tina was the only one who used it so I wasn’t all that fussed. She was living it up like a princess in that house. Not only did she have keys to all the doors and free rein to do whatever she wanted, but Dad even let her use his car. I goggled at him when I found out.
“Does she even have a driver’s license?” I asked.
Dad shrugged. “Yeah, she said she did.”
“Did you see it?” I pressed. Dad shrugged again. Amazing. She already lied about her real profession and about her daughter living in Russia, so who knew what else she was fibbing about. But Dad accepted everything without question. I guess distrust, suspicion and paranoia was only reserved for family and not complete strangers. And had Dad let any of us borrow his car we’d probably receive an itemized bill for services afterwards.
Anyway, I said I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the computer and that it was weird.
“And speaking of weird,” I said, fingering the letter in my jacket, “I’ve got something very interesting I want to show you. Come over here…” I led Dad into the kitchen and pulled it out. “See that?” He squinted at it the label. “It has your name on it. And that’s my address. Now, why is mail with your name on it my mailbox?”
He straightened and gave me a goofy grin, the same one he displays every time he knows he’s caught in a lie. “I don’t know,” he laughed and shrugged.
“Oh, you don’t know?” I said icily.
“No!” he said, still flashing me his silly little fake grin. I felt like slapping it right off his face.
“I think you know very well why it’s on there.”
“No, I don’t…” he said, his grin slipped a few notches.
“Fine, then I’ll let you think about it and I’ll come back when you’ve figured it out,” I said and I made to leave. But he called me back and we went at it for about ten minutes right there in kitchen. Dad was really agitated and flustered, repeating over and over that he didn’t know how his name got on there. Bullshit. He knew very well why. Then he said I was probably getting it for the same reason he got all that junk mail that time – some joker signed him up for it.
Well, in case you don’t remember, that joker was me.
“Oh, so you think I did it? Is that why I’m getting all this mail with your name on it?” I asked. I wasn’t going to admit anything. If he was going to lie to me then I was going to lie right back at him. And we just kept going back and forth, me insisting he knew why I was getting his mail and him insisting he didn’t. He was getting closer to blowing his stack, so I finally asked why he was getting so worked up and we couldn’t have a normal conversation.
“Because you’re coming in here and accusing me of things – things I have no idea about,” he said, spreading his hands and going red in the face. A vein started pumping on his forehead. Then he started up with the usual sob story about everybody in the family is against him, etc. etc. And it’s a mystery why, he said.
“No, it’s not a mystery,” I corrected him. “If you sit down and think about it, then you’ll be able to figure the mystery out.”
“Yeah, they think that by not coming to see their grandmother, they can hurt me by hurting my mother… or whatever goes on in their sick minds,” he spouted. “And you still haven’t told me where you lived… You must be afraid that I’m going to stop by and say hello. Telling me how, ‘Oh, you can see it when I’m ready.’ And then you told me you felt like you were being forced out of the house because you were afraid I was going to make you start paying rent like I did with Johnny.”
“That’s not what I said,” I corrected him again. In fact, I had secretly taped my moving-out conversation with him for future proof. Then I started kicking myself for not taping this conversation as well. Dammit. But oh well, there would be plenty of other opportunities.
“That’s what I took it to mean,” Dad said.
“Well, I can’t help how you interpret things,” I said.
“Well, you made some flippant remark about it. You make a lot of flippant remarks, which I don’t like.”
Sorry, chief. I’ll make as many remarks as I like. Too bad if you don’t like them. But long story short, I got absolutely nowhere with him, just as my mother had warned me beforehand. I was so enraged on the way home thinking about our confrontation that I was in half a mind to turn around and go right back and start in on him again. I had more to say and never got it out. I was tarting to think there’s something seriously wrong with him. He acted an awful lot like a paranoid schizophrenic.
Obviously I got to him, though. Bill called me a week later to tell me that – in addition to fighting with Tina and finding someone else put garbage in the trunk of his car – but the mail stopped coming to the house. He said that now the mail just goes past without stopping. Tina must have reported to Dad that Bill was going for the mail one too many times, so Dad just stopped it altogether. Not the first time he’s done so, either. He did it years ago and Mom found him in the parking lot of post office, reading everybody’s mail in his car. But no, he doesn’t open other people’s mail. Oh no.