Some of the most memorable times of my life involve my dad going berserk. (His word, not mine.) His freak outs typically revolve around one of two themes: problems with a certain boy or the computer. See where I get it?!?
The episodes are rare, which make them especially hard to predict. But one sure sign that someone’s life is in grave danger is the way the vein roping across his neck bulges. Out of nowhere it pops from the left side and you can actually see it pulsing. His face then loses any hint of an expression and you have about ten seconds from that point on.
The closest my dad ever got to ending a person’s life was when my brother (the boy) and a friend accidentally lit Emily’s back woods on fire in high school. When the boy and the pyrotechnic genius, who hereafter will be known as “Paul,” arrived at our house, the fire trucks were already gathered around the cul-de-sac and Em’s mom had already phoned my dad.
I can’t recall if any words were exchanged beforehand. All I remember is my dad holding the boy and Paul’s limp bodies by the throats in midair while my mom danced around the kitchen screaming, “Honey! You can kill Matthew. But you can’t kill Paul. He’s not ours!”
Editor’s Note: Paul and the boy survived the outburst. However, it took Paul two years before he would ever come to our house again. And several years more before he could be in the same room with my dad. But the boys never lit another fire in the woods. By the way, my dad actually loves Paul.
Anyhow, my father’s most recent flip out occurred yesterday. This time it was the computer who had wronged him. He has spent the past four months writing and editing a medical textbook. His deadline arrived and as he was trying to e-mail the chapters to his editor he discovered that one chapter was missing. He swears that he backed it up on four separate files and that somehow it still ended up in the trash.
Now, my dad may be a skilled doctor in the ER, but emailing is not his forte. And I am not entirely certain he knows how to save onto one USB device, let alone four. His version of IT support often involves banging the side of the offending device or throwing it against a wall. He has gone through at least five cell phones this way.
But I am proud to say that I think he is growing. This time, nothing was destroyed and there were no holes punched in the walls. I am not saying the neighbors didn’t hear obscenities coming from my parents’ house for about two hours yesterday, but my dad managed to solve the problem himself. He has decided to continue writing all manuscripts on his typewriter in the future.