One Hundred Dollars

You know, I imagine when most people go see their parents, they leave either exhausted or in a state of bliss and content. After leaving my parents’ home, however, I feel like I am losing touch with reality often questioning everything that is and isn’t. I wouldn’t admit to suicidal thoughts but it is often cloudy, cold, and depressing even on the brightest and warmest of days.

A couple weekends ago, Nate and I drove down to my parent’s home to work on my car. My dad had been charging my car’s giant battery for the week so it had a wonderful, deep charge that lasted the entire time we were working on it. It was good to see the car turning without a problem.

My dad is riding around on his riding lawn mower drinking a beer. A good thing to see. He approaches us and tells me, “Michael, you will never be able to start this car.” Thanks for the vote of confidence ass hole.

Of course, I am not ranting about my dad but I do feel I need to catalog some of the reoccurring themes in my childhood. He kept trying to talk in Czech but I answered in English steering him into English around Nate. I wanted someone else to hear the things he says to get a second opinion.

Anyway, Nate and I worked on the car trying different things. It had started six months or so before and ran for 10 or 15 minutes and then died. It was getting late that time so I didn’t keep trying especially since the battery was losing its charge. Something broke and it no longer sends a spark. We replaced the plugs and there are a few other things we can try but I will probably end up having to test all the various electrical components. My dad would intermittently come by and say things like, “Michael, there is no gas station in America that will fill this car.” in his usual heavy Czech accent.

Now I guess some of his comments might be jokes but they are so condescending and I know they reflect how he feels. He feels that my project car is a complete waste of time and it is completely impractical to own a car like this. My father supports me only when I do what he feels is correct. Otherwise, I am a complete failure and waste of flesh and the resources needed to keep me alive. I am not allowed to voice or have my own opinions. I am an automaton who must comply to the will of the father.

“Michael, if you can tell me one thing you have done right in the last 10 years, I will give you one hundred dollars”, he tells me in English in front of Nate. My whole family is beyond cynical. My mother laughs and everyone just shrugs. This sort of abuse is just accepted.

I fear most for my sister because she, at around 26, still lives there and I notice little “isms” in how she talks to me about various things. This negative, mean spirited approach to everything is something she has accepted. It would explain some of the vileness she exhibits when it comes to affection and dealing with men.

So when I put on some Czech music, movie, or I speak in Czech to my son I shudder sometimes. I want to cut off my cultural heritage and pretend it never existed. The angst and sadness I cause in my own struggles to destroy these behaviors in myself make me wonder why Crystal has remained with me as long as she has. Surely, not all Czech people are like this? Surely, this cynical and hateful behavior is unique to my family.

It doesn’t matter. My father is the bastion of Czechness I know and because of that I resent everything Czech. I know I have to move on and learn the better things about myself and life around me, but in the mean time I second guess everything I have done in the last ten years wondering, have I really not done anything right?

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