I said “This time, none of it.” She had promised to be more patient. We were in the midst of a global pandemic. The perfect time to give people a break (which she hadn’t for her birthday, but that’s a whole other story that ends with me gripped by anxiety over the very thought of celebrating her birthday. I don’t recall ever being an anxious person. For the past few years, I’ve been wracked by anxiety. Again, conditioning). She arrives home to an immaculate house covered in balloons, flowers and handmade welcome home signs, with her favorite dinner and dessert ready to go, with no silly distractions for me like work or deadlines. I took care of everything.


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I’d love for you to be in my shoes. Taking food to “grateful” customers who tip little to nothing all day, dealing with both of your grandmothers who have especially demanding needs/wants that are outside of my control, and dealing with your step-father who would lose his head if it wasn’t attached to his shoulders because he can’t focus long enough to watch the road is more of a job than FIVE people can handle. And when it comes to you? You’re the easiest of the whole group of jobs that I have, because you practically take care of yourself (Note: He’s 17 years old.) So… Go out there with your father, keep him from crashing the car into someone else (again) and see if that isn’t a job in itself


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When my daughter was a teenager, she had a group of friends who liked hanging out at my house. I’m not sure why; I was a single mom making ends meet on a teacher’s salary, so our house wasn’t as large or as nice as theirs. Yet for some reason, my house became the #1 hangout spot. I didn’t mind, because her friends were, for the most part, nice kids. There was one friend in particular, however, who I didn’t care for at all. “Gina” was the daughter of a prominent couple: her father owned a successful insurance agency, while her mother was an RN.


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I could tell from my daughter’s stricken expression that she was mortified. She had only started hanging out with the so-called popular group that year, and I knew she wanted to continue doing so. I decided that offending one bad apple at the possible expense of alienating her from the entire friend group was not something I wanted to do at that moment. One weekend, I was hosting a slumber party, and as always, Gina was in attendance. The other girls were in my daughter’s room, and Gina came out to the living room, where I was watching TV, announcing that she was hungry.


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I was working for Sears long ago. They had a garage with 20 bays with lifts. The average day there were 20 to 30 mechanics in the garage. The majority were between 25 and 35 years old. A lot of Vietnam vets. Most were motorcyclist and hung out together. I was 19 and rode a ten-speed bike to work. They had bays for anything maintenance related to a car. Wheel alignment to mufflers. I changed tires. I would put the car up on a lift and take whatever tires off that were on the ticket.


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And she got ripping mad at me over the fact that my sister hadn’t responded to a text she sent days ago. I said I hadn’t spoken to my sister and I didn’t know why she wouldn’t respond. My wife’s attack became twofold. First, my sister was a spoiled, awful bitch. I was confounded, as my family always treated her well. The bitchy awfulness amounted to the past 6 months, all stuff we had discussed before. At a late night family event around the holidays, my sister left without saying goodbye. There was the slow text response, and at Christmas, she gave my wife what was deemed to be a bullshit gift. And finally, my sister was visiting on a long-planned vacation, staying with my brother, when my wife’s parents decided to drop into town unannounced.

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