Fun Fact: My Daddy is a redneck. An atypical redneck, but still –- a redneck.
While the majority of his immediate family worked in construction or factories, he has a PhD from a university. In England. He was a college professor –- and even a college president for a short time. He is technically white collar, yet can’t shake his blue-collar upbringing or his firmly entrenched poverty mentality.
He is a right wing, gun-collecting, born-again Tea Partier with a visceral hatred of anything hinting of socialism. Public enemy number one used to be communism, but since the Iron Curtain rusted down, it’s not been on his mind as much -– now he’s now more into hating socialism.
Like a good born-again capitalist, he has a deeply entrenched relationship with God and his son, Jesus. The relationship is so strong that when talks to God, God talks back. No, really. My sisters and I get frequent emails and phone calls from him detailing his “God Sightings,” which consist of things like:
“November 12, 2011, 4:46 p.m., God Sighting: There I was, in my apartment, getting ready to meet Mac at Bob Evans and I couldn’t find my damned glasses. Can’t drive without my glasses. Hell, I looked everywhere, The kitchen. The living room, the bedroom. Nada. I was about to give up, go to Kroger’s and shell out $10 on another pair when god said, ‘TOP OF YOUR HEAD, BOB!’ and sure enough, there they were. Right on the top of my head.”
“August 25, 2009, God Sighting: My damn VCR/DVD player conked out on me. Couldn’t get it to work for the life of me, so I went over to Best Buy –- and do you know what they wanted for a combo VCR/DVD player? $600 bucks! So I said, screw that and went over Sam’s Club – which wanted $300! Hell, I was sweating it for a minute and then God said, ‘WARRANTEE, BOB!’ So I went home and wouldn’t you know it? That thing had a warrantee. Called up Sony, spent four hours on the phone with customer service and three days later got a brand spanking new machine for free.”
“April 5, 2012, 9:27 a.m., I had a God Sighting. I was putting the pedal to the metal down old I-75 trying to get to work so the Slave Driver at the University wouldn’t try and fire me again and God said, ‘SLOW DOWN, BOB.’ Sure enough, there was a copper just waiting by the side of the road to pull me over -– ha! Not that day, buddy!”
I mean, Daddy and God are so close, God not only talks to him, but is his personal speed radar detection system!
Every now and then, the subject of his daughters must come up with God, and apparently it’s not super pleasant. The culmination of these Daddy/God daughter talks used to end up with a call from Daddy, begging me to get to know Jesus. Like God had called him up, chewed him out and was pissed that even though he and Daddy were tight, Daddy’s kid didn’t want to hang out with his kid. Like Jesus and I weren’t getting along in the playground or something and an intervention was called for.
These playground intervention talks stopped a couple of years ago. He’d called one weekend and, right smack in the middle of a 30-minute monologue on, say, socks, he suddenly stopped and sighed.
“Dammit Paully,” he said. “I’m just so scared for your eternal soul.”
“Huh?” I asked. “What the heck are you talking about? I thought we were talking about socks…”
“Well, unless you learn to recognize the Lord Jesus Christ, you’re gonna go to hell, and it keeps me up at night.”
“I’m not so sure you have to worry, Dad,” I said. “I think I’m a pretty good person, living a pretty good life.”
“That’s not gonna cut it,” he said dolefully.
“But I believe in God.”
“Gotta know Jesus.”
“But Jesus was the son –- so if I’m down with the Dad then I’m still good, right?”
“Nope,” he sighed dramatically. “That’s not gonna do it. Unless you recognize Jesus at those pearly gates, you’re gonna burn in hell.”
“What? That’s crazy,” I shot back. “I mean, what about Gandhi?”
“What about him?”
“He was flipping GANDHI! Is he gonna burn in hell because he was a Hindu?”
“Unless he finally recognized Jesus, yep.”
“Well, what about Elie Weisel -– I mean, hasn’t he suffered enough?”
“It’s sad, but again, until he comes to recognize Jesus, he will burn in hell.”
“That’s all it takes? To recognize Jesus?”
“Yep, pretty much.”
“OK then -– what about Jeffrey Dahmer?”
“What about him?”
“He sodomized and then ate young boys.”
“God-damned bastard –- just disgusting!”
“But when he went to prison, he converted and he recognized Jesus as his personal savior -– so does he get to go to heaven?” I asked.
“Well, it ain't that god-damned easy!”
“Sure sounds like it,” I said. “But I’m done. Let’s leave it at this –- I’ll take Gandhi and Elie –- and you get Dahmer. Let’s not have this discussion again.”
And, to his credit, we haven’t.
Daddy ain't Ward Cleaver, but he’s mine and damn, does he make me laugh.