My Friend’s Weird Dad

I remember my best friend’s dad growing up, and he was weird.
Most people’s dads err on the side of “normal”, “boring” or “uncool” (because teenage kids always have a great handle on what’s cool), but my friend’s dad was more on the “pardon me” and “huh?” side.
He owned a health food store and was super into it, not that that’s a bad thing, but he was also into conspiracy theories in a big way and had more energy than most of us to pursue them because, well, he owned a health food store and was super into it.
This was back in the day before the Internet and one had to be especially dedicated to play the conspiracy game by gathering information about the government, the CIA, how we are all being secretly drugged and fed propaganda about the women’s rights movement, or how we are all being secretly drugged and fed propaganda about everything else.
My dad was stable, logical and never panicked. My friends dad was unstable, hot tempered with no logic, and always panicked, and that made me love hanging around him.
My solid upbringing made everything I experienced with my friend’s dad a pleasant surprise. How many times did I walk in to a room with him expounding to his long-suffering wife for the millionth time about something she didn’t care about? Wow!
Bored? Ask Mr _____ what he thinks about taxation?
Slow day? Wait until he’s breathless and say “I don’t know… I really like the government!”
My friend’s dad was also religious, but not in a good way. Let me explain: religion is amazing if it celebrates an actual relationship with God. Religion that celebrates the ceremony and trappings and forgets the groom at the altar gets weird pretty quick.
If I could be perfectly honest… weird gets even weirder when one can say “God thinks the same way I do” or even “God TOLD ME to do this”.
If I was relaying a message from dad to my little brother, I’d better resist the temptation to put a spin on it that benefitted me, if I wanted to eat and live indoors that is. And I imagine God might feel the same?
But what happened to my friend’s dad happens to all of us sooner or later, and not because we really want it to but because we’re human. We tend to see God and people the way WE are, not the way THEY are.
It started off innocently enough in their home with the dad trying to do the right thing by keeping the rules, and there are definitely rules if you want to keep a family together. But when you start with a million rules out of fear you’ll break the real rules, and add to it a little every week it just becomes impossible to maintain, so the unspoken truth is that no one actually keeps them because it’s ridiculous. And you just end up keeping the ones that make you appear to be keeping them all.
That’s when everything gets weird.
Not wanting your kids watching bad movies is good.
Not letting them watch any movies will likely backfire.
Not wanting your kids to listen to the garbage music you did is good.
Not letting them listen to music because it has drums (and everyone knows that drums come from jungle music in Africa and they probably worship the devil there) will likely backfire.
I could go on…
Basically what I noticed was that my friend’s parents didn’t do much outside of the house because that might mean they came in contact with white-sugar eating communists who play drums and worship the devil, so they stayed inside where it was safe.
The home I grew up in was built on a different idea, that our family didn’t just exist for our family. That each child was not the most important person in the whole world. That if you were lucky enough to receive a great education, food and shelter and go to a fun church, it was all to prepare you to learn how to give your life away to help other people find the same thing.
Our home was different. We had two rules:
  1. Be nice to your mother.
  2. Never tell a lie.
I suppose there were other rules but we didn’t spend a lot of time talking about them because my folks were too busy living them…

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