01.30.2022 | 23:22 CST

[ BACK ]

Here's the deal. Until I was 11 years old I thought my father was one man. A man who was in prison. For reasons, now that I look back, I never knew as a child. Come to find out later that he was a sexual predator in the truest sense. He had preyed on women riding bike alone in a park. He would imobolize the bicycle however and when the woman was not on the bike anymore, he would strike. I would visit him in prison with my mom and I thought he was funny and had a big moustache and could probably be that funny character from a gangster movie. He always had a felt tip pen in the pocket of his short sleeve button up shirt. And felt tip pens are fun when drawing on something more porous, like a paper towel, when compared to sketchbook pages. And, boy, did I draw on a lot of paper towels for a few years. Thinking it was normal having a father in prison until kids in class started asking me where my dad was. Prison was not an answer you could give a kid in your class back in 1987 without some ignorant asshole punk taking it and running with it and making life a living hell for you for over a full calender - not just school - year.

Aside from a spell in elementary school being really unbearable after a bitch ass class mate found out my dad was in prison, I was not really sure how to deal with it or how I would allow it - knowingly or not - to impact me. I remember being disappointed when my mom told me. We used to lay on the couch together and watch movies when I was a kid, and that was the enviornment she chose to tell me. That mood was ruined and it has ruined my ability to enjoy movies at a theatre or with company in any setting. It didn't take me long to figure out the disappointment was additionally and mostly rooted in the ritual of packing up, grabbing fast food on the way, and the whole experience that is going to visit someone incarcerated in a state/federal prison. I mean, really, as a super poor kid growing up, simply going out to eat was a noteworthy happening. Everything else was like a whole other world adventure that I didn't really understand for what it was. I didn't grasp, being the kid I was, that we were going to visit men who were locked up for doing something terribly wrong. To me, it was an adventure. The sign in, the patdown, the sliding doors made of bars, the chipping paint everywhere, the time I jumped off a coffee table in the waiting room and smacked my mouth on the base of one of the waiting room benches - which were essentially (and possibly actually retired) wooden church pews. My bottom middle tooth that was biggest at the time, I was a kid, went all the way through my bottom lip. There was blood everywhere. The state penitentiary first aid team took care of me.

But I have never truly been able to understand my feelings in relation to finding out that my incarcerated sexual predator father was, in fact, not my dad.

Or my feelings in relation to finding out that my actual dad, according to my mom, just disappeared when he found out my mom was pregnant.