My dad, the Motivational Drill Sergeant, is hard to get to know. Still, we have our moments, when we bond. Sometimes he’s not even shouting at me.
We were out in the backyard, building ferret traps. We don’t have ferrets in our area, but my dad likes to be prepared. I was feeling bored, so I asked, “Hey, Motivational Drill Sergeant, how did you meet Mom?” I asked this because my dad hates personal questions and I figured it would get a rise out of him. You get him on a good enough rise and he’ll start ranting, which is wicked fun to watch. He once ranted about taxes, automatic transmission, Assyrians, the undead, and Hannah Montana, all in the space of ten minutes.
“Are you saying, Boy, that I have never told you the account of how I met your mother?” He always phrased things in a shouty sort of way, but his tone was casual. He had just finished yelling at a senator for an hour and that always put him in a good mood.
“No, sir,” I said.
“It was before you were born,” he said, and paused. I considered this rather obvious information and waited for him to continue.
“Your mother was a political activist. She was into politics like a badger is into a termite mound: is wasn’t really her thing, but since she was there, she thought she might as well try to take down the whole thing.
“She would call up members of congress in the middle of the night and say, ‘It’s 2am, do you know where your constituents are?’ She wouldn’t hang up until they told her the location of all of them. Then she’d call up the constituents and tell them their members of congress were spying on them and that they’d better elect another one. She still does that sometimes, if she’s bored.”
“Were you a political activist too?” I asked him.
“Are you crazy, Boy?” he shouted. “I hate politics. No, I’d go to rallies and shout at the protesters: tell them to wake up and don’t be so angry all the time. Better ways to change things than walking around, waving a bunch of fruity signs. Then I’d shout at the police and tell them to stop oppressing citizens and standing in the way of progress.”
“So, you yelled at everyone?”
“They all needed a good dose of the Truth,” he said, with a small nod. He stapled the last piece of barbed wire to the ferret cage he was working on, hooked up the battery, and picked up another one.
So many people to yell at.
“Anyway, I was at a rally in Washington D.C when I saw her. She was pretty. I noticed that about her. So I went up to her and said, ‘You call that a sign? I’ve made better signs while I was passed out drunk on the side of the road. If you allow me, Ma’am, I will take you out to dinner and instruct you on how to make a proper sign.’
“She said, ‘You call that a pick-up line? I’ve worked in sewers that didn’t stink half as bad.’
“‘That’s disgraceful!’ I replied. ‘A pretty girl like you shouldn’t be working in a filthy sewer.’
“‘So now you’re telling me where I should work?’ she asked. ‘Just because you think I’m pretty?’
“‘I tell it how I see it, Ma’am,’ I said. ‘And you being pretty is all I know about you so far. I cannot ascertain more without further reconnaissance.’
“At that point, she hit me with her sign. ‘Listen up, you chauvinistic pig of a stuffed shirt,’ she yelled. ‘I will rip your crew cut from your head and use it to scrub my toilet if you don’t back off right now! If a miserable worm like yourself has the gall to insult a woman like me, I will feed you to the sharks!’
“‘Will you marry me?’ I asked her. She hit me with her sign again.
“‘We’ll see,’ she said. We were married six months later.”
“Is that true?” I asked him.
“Are you calling me a liar, Boy?” he shouted. Then his tone softened. “Go ask your mother.”
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