Thursday, October 27, 2005

Grandpa's Poyton and O'Meara

Well, I find myself in the (un)enviable position of having too many different things I want to talk about. So, I will try to be as brief as possible. First off, for those of you who have been dying to find out (a number which I estimate to be in the area of zero), my official name in the Knights of the Round Bottom is to be: Sir Lee Padthaiserver, which has won with 45.5% of the popular vote (the popular vote consisting of 11 votes).

Diet Update: Lost .6 pounds last week. Apparently, eating pad thai once a week is perfectly ok. Eating pad thai 5 times in a week … not so good.

Novel Update: I'm at 8,500 words.

The Gay Narnia Prequel

Ok, so Laura asked (i.e. pimped) me to into telling the prequel to the Gay Narnia story. A few years ago, my friend Gary and I decided to drive down to Chicago during the summer. We go every year around May for the Chicago Improv Festival, and have an awesome time. We had a few spare days in the summer, and decided to head down again. We wanted to check out some improv shows, maybe see a ball game, and just soak up the

When we arrived, we dropped off our bags and decided to go for a walk. We noticed that people were dressed rather ... strangely. Way more leather, feathers, and ass-less shorts than usual. Turns out, we had come to the city during Gay Pride. The parade was over, but we walked around and soaked up the atmosphere. It was my first Gay Pride celebration, and everyone seemed to be having ... well, a gay old time. I enjoyed the sites for sure, a lot in the way of flamboyant dress and originality.

At one point, two young men dressed in feathered boots and white short shorts walked by carrying super soakers. One of them shot me in the butt with the super soaker, so Gary went around for the next 2 years telling everyone I took it up the ass at Gay Pride.

We stopped for lunch a the Mongolian Barbecue, where I got hit on by a gay man. There was a guy dressed all in black leather (yes, even his shirt) who always seemed to be in line ahead of me (you had to get up for refills), every time I went up. Eventually, I said to him that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't seem to get ahead of him. He replied "Oh, if you asked, you wouldn't have any problem getting head". Now, my saloon doors don't swing both ways, but it was still flattering.

Now, to the main topic I wanted to cover today (geez, long winded or what?). Seeing as I wrote a piece about my maternal grandmother, I thought I’d take a few days and do a spread on my other grandparents (how often do you see the words “spread” and “grandparent” in the same sentence?). Today, I’ll be talking about my maternal grandfather.

First off, I have two maternal grandfathers. The first, William Poyton, died years before I was born, so I never got to meet him. He was an accomplished musician who could play numerous instruments. He was also a very good artist, and painted a number of murals on the walls and ceilings of businesses and private homes (all of which, as far as I know, have long since be destroyed). I only have one picture of him, which I have posted here. Note, he did not paint the lady in the picture. That’s my grandma. Originally, he was painting a landscape, but I took a photo of my grandma, and added it to the photo to make it look like he was painting her.

My grandmother was later remarried (again, before I was born) to a man named Victor, who was my grandpa as I grew up. Victor was never really a pleasant man. He rarely laughed, and often times yelled and bellowed. He had a form of epilepsy that resulted in violent bursts of temper, and even at the best of times had difficulty keeping his cool.

Growing up, there were numerous times that he blew up, lost his temper, and chewed me out. He said very hurtful things during these times and often made my cry as a kid. When I was in college, I was going to school during the day, and working nights as a security job. At the time, I was living with my mother, who owned a restaurant, and I had a room upstairs. I had been up very late the night before, and as I had an exams that day, I didn’t have to be at school until 3:00 pm.

Now my grandparents worked in the restaurant with my mother. Apparently, it had been an insanely busy day, and my grandfather was pissed that I had slept until 2:00 pm (never mind that I had good reason). When I came into the restaurant, he exploded. Even though there were about 8 customers in the restaurant, he screamed at me (yelling as loud as you can imagine … no, louder), telling me I was a lazy bastard who didn’t care about the suffering that my mother and grandmother had to do through, etc., etc.

As he was yelling at me, I felt something inside me click. I don’t know how to describe it any other way. In one second, I loved him, and the next second, I did not. I could not continue to love him, because he used that love, over and over again, to hurt me. It wasn’t a conscious decision, it was just something I felt happen.

Now, in his defense, he did have a medical condition. Also, his parents were brutal with him as he grew up, and there were definite issues in his childhood. He would also, after he calmed down, feel bad about his tirades. However, he was pathologically incapable of apologizing, due to the fact that growing up, his father would beat him if he ever admitted to being wrong.

About 15 years later, he died of cancer. He chose to die at home, in my mother’s house (where he and my grandmother lived), rather than waste away in a hospital. I respect that decision. He died at home, in comfort, with his family surrounding him. When the nurse told us he was dead, I surprised myself by crying. I realized that I wasn’t crying so much for the loss of the man he was, but for the wasted potential of the good man I know he could have been.


Kim Ayres said...

My mother once said that growing up was about learning to undo all the shit your parents and other adults pile on you as a kid. And it can take a lifetime.

BStrong said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Even though your warm feelings for your grandfather diminished that day in the restaurant, it was kind of your family to be with him in his final moments. With the exception of his medical condition it sounds like he had a hard life growing up as a young boy. Certainly his experiences growing up transformed his views of how life should be lived and it was good of you to recognize that, even though it doesn’t take away the pain.


PS. That was a very cool thing you did with the photo of your grandmother.