Steven Fales is an actor/writer/producer, public speaker, and creativity coach. His first success was his book and off-Broadway play "Confessions of a Mormon Boy" (Part One in "Mormon Boy Trilogy"). www.facebook.com/fales.steven or firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm diligently working on Oxy-Mormon
Memoirs: A Love Story with Footnotes*. Here's a sneak peek at Chapter One. I hope it grabs your attention. I have many drafts of the book I'm working from. I hope to finally get this book finished and on its way . . .
*Signed depiction releases have been purchased to mention Emily, the kids and her mother.
"Steven and Emily just before getting engaged." Utah, Summer 1993
OXY-MORMON MEMOIRS: A Love Story with Footnotes
by Steven Fales
Chapter One -- “Happy Anniversary"
I was working from the fourth floor
of the new city library in downtown Salt Lake frantically finishing up the
final draft of a new solo play I was writing (for someone else) so I could
submit it to this highly competitive theatre workshop at Sundance—a tiny blue
pinprick in the reddest state in the Union. Utah makes Texas seem liberal. Getting
accepted would be a much needed break in a career that seemed to have peaked
and was now going downhill fast. There was just an hour left to put the
finishing touches on this edgy new script about the founder of Mormonism’s
enigmatic bitter polygamist first wife and then electronically submit it (with
the $50 application fee I really couldn’t afford ) by the deadline that day.
The library closes early on Saturday and like everything else in Utah it’s
closed on Sunday so I was in a hurry to get it done when a call came in from
my favorite drama queen Emily—the Kim Kardashian of Mormondom. Only tall,
blonde and talented.And the mother of
my children. Our children. The
I was working from my unofficial
corner office because I needed the library’s free WiFi for my ailing Toshiba
laptop. It was dying. I think from a virus I got trying to download porn one
night. Porn’s not really my thing (why watch it when you’ve lived it?) but it
never leaves your laptop. Or your mind. At the dawning of the Great Recession I
decided to get another forbearance on my student loans and discontinue my
internet service in my studio apartment completely and just make do. Actually it had been shut off. At least my cell phone was still on. Thank you, Aunt
It was December 15th.
Just another cold, hungry day in the wholesome Mountain West—Zion. Mormon
missionaries and the homeless love this new library. So do the tweakers. It
could get really cruisy. But I had long outgrown that kind of old-school closeted
behavior. I was in recovery. And on deadline.
What did Emily want? I was the one
who was always calling her. No, I
couldn’t risk getting derailed. I could easily derail myself. I needed to get
this script submitted. Then I could call her back. “There’s no Mormons like show Mormons like no Mormons I know.”
Emily and I were both show Mormons. But this new show must go on!
Earlier that fall I decided I would swear
off my jealous mistress, arts and entertainment, and just hunker down and be a
full-time dad no matter how excommunicated I was in Utah. Or how much it was
their mother’s turf. Whether my kids knew it or not, they needed me. More than
that I needed them. Home is where your kids are. In the words of Dr. Laura, “I
am my kids’ dad.” It’s a documented fact that children who grow up without a
father are ten times more likely to run into trouble from anxiety to underachieving
to acting out in all kinds of destructive ways.
Ours was not your typical broken
home from the Mormon ghetto. My kids were lucky to have a dad. I was lucky to
be a dad and still have a dad myself as challenging as my relationship
continued to be with perfect Dr. Fales, M.D. Emily’s dad died when she was only
sixteen—of AIDS. Em grew up in a fatherless house. But her mother documented
everything in a national bestseller. And there were sequels. Lots of them.
Emily’s mother was the most celebrated writer of Mormon Arts and Letters—a
literary reality star. Memoir was the family business. My exotic mother—a trophy
wife whose second marriage had just ended—was why this former Mormon missionary
could handle his own Mormon American Princess so well. Sometimes.
Just not right now. Don’t you dare
pick up that phone, Steven.
We were both
sixth-generation—products of a dynamic blend of Mormon royal accomplishments
and Mormon white trash secrets—on both sides. Oxy-Mormons. Nevertheless and
notwithstanding we had really good kids. We got compliments on them all the
time. We have a son and a daughter. Our son is the older. Their nicknames are
Buddy and Gee-Gee. They get along with each other so well. Like Donny and
Marie. They have my watery brown eyes—just not as intense. Emily has the most
soulful, penetrating blue eyes to ever come out of Utah. Their eyes were a twinkling softened
blend of us both.
When they were little on those rare
occasions we ever had to discipline them we’d warn them first, “One. Two.
Three. Okay. Time out!” Then they’d politely march right over and plop
themselves down in the corner of the room and recite Shakespeare, “Tomorrow and
tomorrow and tomorrow.” Or sing the full score to Annie Get Your Gun, “Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can!” Or just
patiently wait five minutes until their lesson was learned and we were all back
to laughing and jumping on the trampoline.
“How do you get your kids to just go
to time out like that and like it?”
“Ancient Pioneer Secret.”
The best years of my life were when
we were a little family singing and dancing our way together through the apple
orchards and blueberry patches and Connecticut Repertory Theatre (while daddy
was still in graduate school at the University of Connecticut) picking out
pumpkins or chopping down our own New England Christmas trees in the land of
Martha Stewart. Just us. No parents. No in-laws. Being a busy, young dad
provided the happiest moments of my life. I could never dismiss Mormonism for
providing this bubble. Nor could I ever dismiss Emily.
It was when I moved us all back
to Utah that the marriage blew up and the bubble burst.
But even after the divorce, Emily
and I still did a lot of things together as a non-traditional family. Elaborate
birthdays, family weddings, vacations to Disneyland, Christmas in New York with
the Rockettes! All kinds of religious, educational, and cultural events—like
the annual Greek Food Festival in downtown Salt Lake. We still made a great
team. We had the same daddy-long-leg stride. Back in our East Coast days, we
could throw those kids in the double stroller and rip through the Washington,
DC mall in an entire afternoon—including the Smithsonian! We were exceptional
parents together. She was more pop. I
was more classical. I was New York. She was L.A. We balanced each other out. We
were built for cranking out beautiful babies and making Mormon art. We were
built for apron strings as much as showbiz. And yet our marriage seemed to be
doomed from the start.
I clearly told her I was gay
before we ever got engaged.
When we had the “divorce talk”
with our kids they were just five and three. We thought we’d wait to tell them why
we got divorced until later when it was more age appropriate. We didn’t want
them to find out on the playground. Google’s a real snitch. So are Mormons. So
after two years of our son asking every day to tell us why we primed the pump by letting the kids watch re-runs of “Will
& Grace.” And when they were eight and six we sat them down and on one of
his many visits home from New York daddy took the lead.
“Usually it’s men and women
together. But sometimes it’s men and men together. And women and women
together. And daddy seems to do best when it’s men and men together. Daddy is
what we call . . . gay.”
Buddy ran out of the room and
into the backyard. After a few minutes I went and talked him down out of the
cherry tree. I don’t believe he was upset I was gay or should I technically say
bisexual? It was because this reason blew the chances his parents might get
back together out of the water. This was the same reason his mother’s parents
got divorced. I was so relieved when Buddy said, “I still love you dad.”
When I mentioned to Gee-Gee that
my being gay was also why I was excommunicated she paused and said, “That’s
stupid.” That was my cue to teach them my “Excommunication Polka”! “Excommunication! Latter-day Saints on the
run. Ex-x-x-x-x-com-mu-ni-ca-tion! Everyone else join the fun . . .”
Back in full-time Salt Lake I
would now do my best to see my kids continued to thrive no matter what odds
were stacked against us. Buddy was twelve. Gee-Gee was ten. The perfect time
for a dad to really step up, right? This wasn’t my first time at the Salt Lake
rodeo trying to be a good single gay dad behind the Zion Curtain. But I’d
already lost too much momentum working in New York and being on the road paying
I would make amends for being a
long-distance dad by meeting their needs. Make their dreams come true. Take
them to rehearsals. Go to their basketball and volleyball games. Scouting.
Braces. Ballet. Cello. Maybe start taking them back . . . to church?
I would retire from touring my
old off-Broadway war horse Confessions of
a Mormon Boy forever and go back to teaching middle school or community
college . . . real estate? I would step off the “Mormon Boy” treadmill and rest
by being a busy old dad—at 37. Stop trying to keep up with the sex object on
the poster. Stop smiling so much. I would take my darn hairpieces off for good
and just wear a BYU baseball cap. Let the gray show through and the Botox run
out. Maybe put on a few extra pounds. Wear baggy dad clothes and glasses. Retire. From being fabulous.
After several full-time months
back I was having a “showbiz slip” and taking a day off from being daddy by finishing
up this new historical play at this award-winning, state-of-the-art library
next to these large modern floor to ceiling windows with tiny snowflakes
flurrying over quaint and oppressive Salt Lake City. Where the Mormon voters
are cold-stone sober and the local gay activists get back at them—by drinking.
So I get this call on my cell.
And since it was Emily vibrating, I picked up. You pick up when it’s the mother
of your children and you are the non-custodial parent no matter what deadline
you’re on. “Non-custodial” means you have basic constitutional visitation
rights as a dad and the right to pay child support but not a heck-uh-vah lot
more. Everyone pays lip service that your presence and opinion matter. But the
Church and the courts favor mothers no matter how well you change diapers or
how good your tuna casseroles turn out or how well you tell bedtime Book of Mormon stories.
You ultimately have no real legal
say in anything. You’re a second-class parent. You don’t really exist. So you
learn to work around it. You give up asking to see report cards or expect to be
told about parent teacher conferences. And try to ignore that fact that even
your immediate family sends their yearly Christmas cards to her.
So when the sole legal guardian
calls, you answer—and hope for the best because she has all the power. And an
even more powerful mother. I used my best inside library voice:
“Hi, Former!” We affectionately
called each other “Former”. She had perky down better than me.
“Hey. Do you know what today is?”
I had to think about it, “Uh.
“It’s our anniversary. Today
would’ve been our fifteenth wedding anniversary!”
“Oh! Of course. Sorry. I forgot.”
“Well, I wanted to call you and
wish you a happy anniversary . . .” She paused and in that pause seemed to play the
most tender of movie soundtracks as she began to cry, “And thank you for our
kids. They are so amazing.”
“Yeah, they really are. You’re
welcome. How sweet. Happy anniversary to you, too, Em.”
“Love you, Former!”
“Love you, too. Uh. Bye . . . “
Emily and I had been divorced
over seven years now. I thought it strange that after all this time she would
cross that matrimonial fine line with her surprise call. It was something I
Two weeks later she would call
the police and do everything she could to bar me from ever seeing the children
And that script I submitted to
Sundance was rejected.
Meet a young gay divorced dad who used to try to control everything. The more he did the crazier things got . . .
This is the latest chapter I've been polishing for my forthcoming Oxy-Mormon
Memoirs: A Love Story with Footnotes.*
*Signed depiction releases have been purchased to mention Emily, her mother and the kids.
"Gee-Gee, Daddy, Mommy, and Buddy." New York City, 1998
OXY-MORMON MEMOIRS: A Love Story with Footnotes by Steven Fales
Two – “Whack!”
Daddy was back in Salt Lake and
at your service whether he was Utah’s “Most Unwanted” or not. It had now been over
seven long years since our Brokeback Mormon marriage abruptly ended and a week
after Emily’s sweet yet suspicious post-divorce anniversary call. According to
the official divorce decree (or “custody constitution”) Em and I rotated
holidays each year. This year the kids were Emily’s for Thanksgiving and mine
Ho! Ho! Ho!
In my family Christmas trumps
Thanksgiving like mommies trump daddies in still-Victorian Utah. I humbly spent
this Thanksgiving camped out with my latest local milk-toast sponsor and his
gracious, simpleton parents (and a bland meal I’ve completely blocked out) knowing
all would be rewarded with a warm and cozy Christmas with my two bright kids who
I missed chronically.
As needy as it may sound missing
my kids was a form of prayer. I constantly ached for them no matter where I
roamed. A father without his children is always at risk. Their presence—just their
voice—is a stabilizing force. Even a text from them is grounding. No lover on
earth could replace them emotionally. I had tried again and again. Larry Kramer says in The Normal Heart, “It is not natural for a man not to love.” It is
not natural for a dad not to be near his kids. But this
year Santa was about to bring my kids giftwrapped and all to myself.
Ha! Ha! Ha!
While spunky Emily was going to
be flying to her mother’s in progressive Walnut Creek, California for a much
needed holiday break, I was taking the kids to my mom’s 250 miles south in
provincial Cedar City home of the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival.
They would want me to add that they still talk about my “Astaire-evoking” turn
in The Boy Friend and my ravishing
“Player Queen” in Hamlet.
I was running late. Again. Yes, I
know non-custodial-homosexual-bisexual parents should always be on time to pick
up their kids, but it’s hard work packing the sleigh without any Christmas
elves. Especially when there weren’t any fancy presents this year—except the
ones I got from the thrift store or made with the hot glue gun.
This year there would be no new
leather coats or chic scarves or dresses or navy blue blazers from
Bloomingdale’s or colorful iPods. I didn’t even have an iPod. I still didn’t
have an iAnything. I’m a PC gay. But with Emily’s help I’d already figured out
something cool and inexpensive for the kids. Rechargeable generic digital
cameras she got from a friend. Dumb. My provider ego was bruised but it would
be okay. I hoped. Barely. I didn’t expect any gifts for me. A dad's job is to
give more than to receive. Ideally.
The seashell recession wreaths I
made—and insisted that the kids help me with—for my mom, dad, Emily, and
Emily’s mom looked spectacular. I had all the living grandparents and their
mother covered for Christmas for next to nothing. Whew! The cream-colored clam
and midnight blue mussel shells were from my walks on the beach in Marina Del
Rey during my run in Los Angeles. The pink scallop shells were from wading in the
Atlantic during my run in Provincetown. All of them sealed with hot glue and
love on dark wood branches twisted into circles from Michael’s handicraft
store. The sand dollars and blanched starfishes were like white bows and
ribbons, the finishing touch.
The kids hated making them as
much as they hated scrapbooking with me. I pushed them too hard to make them
perfect. Hot glue burns little fingers.And it's embarrassing to have a dad who can scrapbook better
than the mothers of your friends—or your own mother. Emily would want me to
mention that she has always been jealous of my impeccable penmanship--cursive
and block. Because when I write something down it usually happens. It's a Mormon thing. She was once
at the top of one of my short lists.
Perfectionism and well-meaning,
passive aggressive control are two of my greatest character defects.
I was now responsible for making
Christmas fun for two amazing, precocious, pre-pubescent children who I’d
spoiled rotten on credit the year before. My dad would want me to add that
precocious does not necessarily mean mature. Ahem.
I hated being relegated to the
role of Disneyland dad, but it was the overcompensating position into which I
seemed to back-slide best. All those years and years of living extravagantly! Webster
would want me to add that “prodigal” means extravagant. I didn’t spend money on
a fancy sports car or a chick magnet apartment, I spent all my disposable
income on my kids and the next round of publicity photos. Okay, and a few
mini-boyfriends. Where were those boyfriends now?
This year I barely had enough
money for gas, but I still had lots more homemade fun up my sleeve. It always
took time for the kids to warm up to my ironically less-permissive parenting
style, but they had made the transition before and they could do it again. No
one could argue that daddy wasn’t fun—when he had money. No matter how he
dreaded their learning curve or how depressed he might feel daddy would make
the yuletide gay.
Ha. Ha. Ha.
When I arrived to pick up the
precious Christmas cargo, Emily was annoyed I was late but still pleasant. She
had a hot meal ready for us that we scarfed down. She had mastered my mother’s
gravy recipe. Emily looked stunning. The new Em! She had it goin’ on! We have
always looked ten years younger than we are thanks to all that good, clean
Mormon livin' together in our 20s. All that work she had done after the divorce
was pitch perfect. I never needed boobs back in our day. I was a leg man and
she had legs forever. Her house was immaculate as her new teeth! Remodeled and
ready to sell. I did not approve.
Earlier that fall, I helped
orchestrate a day where my out-of-state dad and I helped rebuild the deck, transform
her backyard and make all kinds of electrical and plumbing repairs. I also
helped re-paint the basement that was still stuck in the ʼ70s. I had mowed that
lawn and cleaned that kitchen countless times since our divorce while visiting.
Who taught Buddy how to load the dishwasher? Who taught him how to mow a lawn
and get the lines in the freshly cut grass just so?
She had let me store my boxes of
books and files in the side storage area above the gardening tools when I
originally moved to New York. I’d moved them by now after a little fight we had
that ended with an expletive. I had just asked a few simple personal questions
about whether she was drinking or something and she hung up! Imagine! We made
up and spent many non-traditional family birthdays and holidays there with the
kids. Including last Christmas with her mother. We had a nice flow. It worked.
“What are we getting your mother for Mother’s Day, kids? The new Margaret Cho
DVD she wants or the latest Augusten Burroughs? Okay, both!"
I’d even brought boyfriends by
like the Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, the BYU cowboy, and the Texas oil
billionaire. She was still best friends with my ex- fiancé even though I
wouldn’t have anything to do with him. She had even dated a good friend of mine
from graduate school. He got his heart broken. What was he thinking? He couldn’t
upstage me even back in Connecticut! He might have had the big narrator part in
Dancing at Lughnasa, but my role as
the singing scoundrel dancing dad was flashier and underscored the title of the
I loved our. . . her
little four-bedroom cottage in winter, her Christmas lights perfectly
illuminating her perfect, long icicles. The Mormon Church had recently
re-roofed her shingles. They were always watching out for her. Who sat quietly
and watched the kids in the congregation when she was asked to be the keynote
speaker at church that first Christmas after our divorce with all of her
fervent, sentimental testimony? She knew how to play her single-mommy card just
right. With her famous Mormon mother she had them wrapped around her little
finger. I would have done the same thing. She took the stage and all the praise
and sympathy for playing the role of the poor ex-wife of that homosexual. She took all our friends and
professors from BYU with her. She could have them.
Emily’s house was one of the few
middle class houses in an upper-middle class suburb of Salt Lake called Sandy.
Upon our return to Utah, the four of us had lived in a cramped two-bedroom
apartment for a year while I taught drama at a posh private school called
Waterford—where A-list Utahns like the Huntsmans send their kids to be groomed
for Ivy League success. I subsidized teaching by waiting tables at Macaroni
Grill and auditioning for local Shakespeare and did several commercials which
helped Emily and I take a Caribbean cruise. That ship sure sailed. Especially
when she realized the crabs I gave her near the end of our wedded bliss did not
come from a toilet seat in Puerto Rico like I said, but were from sparkling
underground DL, Salt Lake City. I’m not proud of that. Or that I gave her chlamydia. It could
have been a lot worse.
The shipped also sailed on my
idea for starting Mountain West Repertory Theatre. I re-wrote her mom’s first
Mormon musical The Order Is Love for
the season starter starring Emily. We did a promising staged reading, but the
divorce the next month delayed things a little. And no matter how youthful she
still looked she was just a little too old to be playing a teenage ingénue.
Between the reading and divorce there was the
big birthday bash I threw for Emily. All of her friends were there. Emily’s
friends outnumbered mine ten to one. Could they sense that this was my last
housewarming hurrah? They would all soon swoop in and console her. One single mom from South
Africa moved in with her high strung little boy for a while. It was a unbearable for Emily and the kids but it was great for her friend. Where was her ex-husband?
We still joked that I should one
day direct Emily in Mame. She’s that
good. Who dragged her to audition with me for Connecticut Repertory Theater?
She walked away with a double nomination for best actress in a musical by the
Connecticut Drama Critic’s Circle one summer. Do you know how many Tony
Award-winning regional theaters are in that little state alone? It was a big
deal. I was getting the master’s degree at UConn so I could one day teach at
the Lord’s University but she had the talent. And now the kids. I should have
taken them to a Huskies game--but I wasn't at UConn for NCAA-winning frivolity.
We watched the Oscars and the Tony's in our household.
By harnessing the help of friends
and family, I pushed through my vision to renovate a fixer-upper on the right
side of the tracks even though I knew I wouldn’t be living there for long. The
equity in that house soared immediately. That house would not exist if it
weren’t for me and I had signed away any ownership without a second thought.
Suzie Ormon would never have approved.
I knew back in Connecticut that
our marriage wouldn’t last. I didn’t want it to blow up on the East Coast where
we didn’t have any family and Emily didn’t have any close friends. I could
never get her to fully engage in my East Coast dream. She actually thought New
Jersey was a borough of New York City. How
can you be living in the Tri-State Area and not know NJ was one of those states?
How can you join in jokes about the Garden State without that distinction? This
house was my subconscious parting gift. Within two months of moving in, I was
excommunicated and on my way out. It was more devastating than I could have
ever imagined--and it's well documented in Confessions
of a Mormon Boy. But we got through it and kept the ball rolling for our
Emily and the kids were set—the
popcorn ceilings and three layers of old wallpaper stripped and replaced. The
kids had a house they could be proud to bring their friends home to after
school. It became the fun house on the block with the slide and trampoline in
the back. And the mysterious, meticulous dad who had moved far away.
Deep inside I felt it was still
my house. I couldn’t let go of our family. I kept our old family portraits
close to me wherever I camped out. I’d even leave them up when a trick came
over. Emily had started taking all of our photos down. And her new photo shoots
with the kids dressed in stark existential black left me out. Who wears black
in Utah? That was my color.
Fine. I’d just take more colorful
photo shoots with the kids myself. I color-coded our turquoise wardrobes in
Central Park. “Come on, kids. Daddy’s getting new headshots. Put on your smiles
and let’s have fun! Get in the row boat.” I recommend MAC Studio Fix.
I wanted the kids to grow up with
piano lessons like we both did. My musical inspiration came from old Mormon
hymns I learned to play as much as Cole Porter. So I strong-armed Emily’s mom
into letting us “borrow” her big, black, rarely used Yamaha grand piano for the
kids. The piano was dusted off and reluctantly shipped from California to Utah
and landed in Emily’s front room. Why on earth did she send it back? As if to
undo anything I had ever put into motion! I felt erased. That piano was an
investment in our kids’ musical futures. A hyper creative family needs a piano.
And it looked fantastic there by the fireplace. Now it was egregiously gone.
Daddy made music happen in
addition to taking my son to Utah Jazz and BYU football games not to mention
that hokey hockey game when the Olympics came to town. And I made sure I took
my daughter to Ballet West regularly and bought those tickets to the first national
tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We’d
watched the movie a thousand times. “Raspberry!” I was supposed to become the next gay Sutton Foster. And all those Sunday brunches
at Market Street Grill after live performances of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
I couldn’t stomach a regular church service. But I was going to show them the
very best of our people and how to dress up.
They sang “Somewhere Over the
Rainbow” one Sunday.
Buddy leaned over, “Not as good as
Like a good gay dad I coached,
“And who was her daughter . . . ?”
He calmly retorted, “Liza
He knew who Shirley Bassey was,
A Christmas before, I dragged
them to see the 360 voice Mo-Tab Choir sing backup for Audra MacDonald.She was the only black girl
there. Her hunky new Mormon husband and I were in a Church propaganda film
together back in our BYU days and a staged reading in New York for ASCAP in
front of Stephen Schwartz about the cultish Salvation Army where he was
featured but I was the male lead opposite Eden Espinoza. How is Hair's Will Swenson's cool ex-wife these
days? Had they both left the Church yet? They attended a lavish party I threw
in my four-bedroom sublet on W. 83rd St. They brought their newborn son. Will said, "Wow! Fales is
livin' large!" Now I was living small. Epic
I’d made their braces happen,
too, with a major discount from an orthodontist fan and his wife who had been
at my big opening night off-Broadway—professional courtesy. And who was it that
paid for Gee-Gee’s first ballet and tap classes and cello lessons? Who was there at many of Buddy’s first soccer
and basketball games even though I was living in New York? Who had guest taught
art at Buddy’s school? Who was there at his presentation about Kit Carson? I'm
in the photos next to Emily’s mother.
And then there were the gifts I’d
given Emily—like the limited Lladro Cristus
statue I gave her for Christmas two years after our divorce that used to sit showcased
on the glossy piano—the generosity of the damned. I could really use that $500
now. Strangely, she had not taken that statue down, but it felt like she was
systematically edging me out as I was inching my way back in. My Piscean intuition was telling me what I wanted to deny.
I was panicking inside. I had
just moved back. How could this be happening? It was all supposed to be getting
better not worse!
I guess I could understand why
she wanted to sell and leave these and other “perfect” memories behind.
Especially after the break-up with her perfect straight ex-Mormon
apostate-atheist 6’4”, blond, muscular super-model-good-looking boyfriend of
five years with that stupid new Acura who had slept with her in the four-poster
pine bed we got as newlyweds. I baby sat for them all the time. Boy did he milk
her. Talk about a narcissist! He would want me to add that he was five years
younger than she and cheated on her so badly it made me look like a saint. I
waited years before fooling around and not until the very end! I heard he shot
blanks anyway. Thank God, Joseph Smith and all the prophets! The last thing I
needed was for my ex-wife to get pregnant on me. He had taken them all house-hunting
just as he did her wrong. To think I had ever suggested we could be workout
How dare he buy that basketball
hoop for my son and then split never saying good-bye. My crushed son gave up
basketball after that. He’d adopted the jerk’s favorite team the Sacramento
Kings. I’d been to BYU summer basketball camp when I was 14 and hated it. My
dad made me go to butch me up. But if basketball was my son’s dream, I was all
for it. I had no problem with my son being straight. Or my daughter.
Who bought Buddy that Michael
Jordan Bears Jersey—35—during my extended run in Chicago? Who attended Gee-Gee’s
volleyball games when I was back in town networking the last year at in Park
City at the Sundance Film Festival? Volleyball was my favorite sport to play
even though I was afraid of the net. Boy could I bump and set even if spiking
was my weakness. My boyfriends would want me to add that my overhand serve is actually
really, really good.
Above all, this was our kids’
home. I’d come back from New York and had re-painted their rooms: Buddy’s was
tan, Gee-Gee’s was butter-cup yellow, Emily’s was lime green—all with crisp
white trim and new swirling textured ceilings I called “Starry, Starry Night.”
I bought Gee-Gee new white furniture to match her room. And that collectable
Barbie. And the countless souvenirs, F.A.O Schwartz toys and presents and
Gymboree and Gap Kids clothes. All those collectable shoe ornaments from the
Metropolitan Museum of Art with my membership discount. The stained glass I had shipped to Em's mother for Mother's Day. It arrived broken.
The years of show posters and
prints of Tiffany stained glass we’d collected and framed looked great on the
walls, especially the fantasy art puzzles we’d mounted next to the “Shakespeare’s Island” print signed by James
Christensen, “The play’s the thing!” We’d spent that entire Christmas vacation
one year in Connecticut putting those puzzles together. Douglas Sills signed
our Scarlet Pimpernel poster “To the
Fabulous Fales Family” right beneath the tag line, “Seduction! Scandal!
Betrayal!” Douglas and I were both good. We never had that affair
after that staged reading in Stratford, Connecticut on our partners.
My pictures weren’t up but my
presence was everywhere. I’d planted those yellow narcissus bulbs in the yard
after the divorce to punctuate my existence! “And then my heart with pleasure fills/And dances with the daffodils.”
I kept the kids stocked with the
latest children’s books from Eloise
to Olivia and the latest Broadway
cast recordings from Spring Awakening
to The Full Monty to you name it.
Buddy would want me to add that when I read him Harry Potter and used my “scary voice” for Voldemorte he had
nightmares for a year. I was forbidden to even read bible stories to them now.
My dad had read Shakespeare and Edgar Alan Poe to me. I was just doing what my
dad did—except I didn’t make them memorize The
Book of Mormon. The book not the Broadway cast recording. “Quoth the raven,
I tried too hard. And daddy
didn’t take care of himself. Daddy had no savings just snowballing debt. He had
three assets: a son, a daughter, and an award-winning solo play he had run into
the ground and didn’t have the gumption or confidence to perform anymore. I’d
lost my oomph. The show had been professionally filmed live off-Broadway, but I
couldn't get the six camera HD film edited and sold. I'd run out of steam when
my team relapsed. Never do business on an AA handshake even if they work for
HBO. The book made me a Lambda Literary Award Finalist (the gay Pulitzers), but
the sales of the companion book to the stage play was paltry. It needed to be
on Kindle. Gay book stores have died out and my gay publisher Alyson Books went bankrupt—one of the oldest in the country. Was being gay now out?
What about their sweet nerdy friends
next door, the helpful snooping Mormon neighbors, Buddy’s scoutmaster that
lived down the street? What about their world-class public elementary school?
Their teachers loved me! A few blocks away was Falcon Park where I’d take them
to ride down the grassy knoll in the red wagon and where we’d play catch with
the baseball mitts I’d bought them. And the scooters we’d race around the
perimeter of the park as well as Manhattan’s West Side Park. Those rubber wheels
had seen a lot of miles. What about our ABBA sessions as I’d spin and dance
with both kids in my arms in the big back family room to “Honey, Honey”, “Angel
Eyes” and “Ring, Ring” until we were all sick from laughing? Daddy might have
been a little hung over but he showed up!
Like when I trimmed the trees in
the yard with a chainsaw. Daddy had been up all night the night before and the night before that. Those cherry trees were now butchered but they were
mine. Ha! I was never forgiven for allowing them to eat those cherries even
though I knew they had worms. Can’t a dad play a practical joke without being
crucified? Can’t a dad get any credit for trying his very best to make some memories! So what if I’d
stepped on Emily’s toes a little. I’m the dad! My son sure as heck wasn’t even
if Emily was now calling him her “little man”. Yuck.
And furthermore why was his
mother now letting him and everyone else get away with calling Buddy “Chris”?
No one consulted me about this! His real name is Christian! Do you hear anyone calling me “Steve”? I named him when
I blessed him in front of the congregation back when I still had the priesthood.
Just like I’d picked out the name of our daughter with Emily’s full approval. Tara—short for Taralyn. A hybrid of my mother Terry Ann and her mother Carol
Lynn and a dash of Marylyn Monroe. All strong women. To think we had considered frilly
“Annalise”. When Tara popped out she was born a woman. My fatherly intuition
took over and that was that. "So let it be written. So let it be done."
I knew this
noble soul we were entrusted with. Just like I knew my son when we saw that first ultrasound. He had his mother’s
brow and the weight of the world on his shoulders. But I blessed Buddy with the
gift of humor to shield him from a Maleficent world. I blessed Gee-Gee that she
would like and celebrate being a
woman in a family with penis envy. Fathers are given a special mantel to bear
their responsibilities and burdens and meet the physical and spiritual needs of
their offspring. It takes nine whole months to earn each new mantle. I looked
great for having had two kids.
And she never consulted me about
the mindless video games. One day they just appeared without warning ready to
prematurely deteriorate our children’s brains. I’m not good at Mario Brothers
Donkey Kong whatever. I could barely play Atari’s Asteroids. The trampoline (on which we wrestled and played “Got
Your Powers!” as they’d laugh and try to grab my baseball cap off my balding
daddy head when I wasn’t wearing my Confessions
hairpiece) and their first email addresses (so I could keep in touch) were my
idea, thank you very much! And the cell phone that they were to share. Start using them.
I had shown up for their baptisms
when they were eight even though I was excommunicated. Buddy knew all the
correct answers in his interview.
“Did your mom teach you all of
these answers?” the bishop asked.
“No”, buddy responded.
I’d bought them each those
leather-bound and gilded name-engraved scriptures. They cost a fortune. Come
on! I wrote a lasting love letter on the inside of each set like my mother had done for me.
Sister Pearson had never been a Mormon missionary. Neither had her mother. I knew
all the Mormon questions. I’d failed the queerest one.
And those birthday extravaganzas
I threw for our daughter? Her friends still talk about them. There was the one party
with the red carpet going into the house with the white stanchion velvet ropes
leading to a tea party with the cute, handmade Marshmallow Rice Krispie nests
with chocolate eggs at each place setting with the strawberry milk as tea. The
next year was even bigger. I’d planned a year in advance to reserve the fabled
Lion House at Temple Square for that taffy pull. Buddy chose to wear the Daniel
Boone Raccoon hat instead of the pioneer bonnets like all the other girls. Good
call. I’d rented that 14-passenger van to transport all the girls in her class.
Can’t a gay dad get any credit for being a little too fabulous?
I had paid for their tuitions for
that children’s self-esteem course based off my own Landmark Forum. Est for kids! I couldn’t pick them up
because Emily forgot to sign the permission slip as the sole legal guardian.
Those kids, however, left having a glimpse of daddy’s big transformation. He
never went back to escorting again. My sex work experiment was now years in the
past. (See Confessions.) They learned
language and tools that would help us communicate and would be useful down the
line. Like right about now. Emily brushed it aside after taking the course
herself. I got everyone to take it, but I spoke recovery and “transformation”
alone. Am I playing the victim? Sorry. That's what I took the course to
overcome. Yesterday’s transformation is today’s ego trip and tomorrow’s
her permission I’d dog-proofed the back yard and got the kids the cutest Boston
Terrier you’ve ever seen. We adored “Rocky”, especially Gee-Gee. He soon became
known as “Snorty.” Kids without a dad around should at least have a dog, right?
She got rid of the new family pet within a few weeks and replaced it soon after
with a dog of her choice—a tiny, nervous Mini-Pincher. At least it wasn’t a cat.
But it’s worse than a Chihuahua! They named him “Joey” after Friends. Why were the kids allowed to
watch re-runs of Friends? I was their
friend! Why did my daughter seem to love I
Love Lucy more than “I Love Daddy"?
And Buddy! I had been to his Boy
Scout Court of Honors and I made the best tin foil dinners in his scout troop.
"Go, Raptors!" The secret is the canned cream of mushroom soup. I was an Eagle Scout. "Kaw! Kaw!" Of
course they let me go on that overnighter even though I was gay. I endured
those straight GOP buffoon leaders for my boy. I was perfectly appropriate the
entire time and I fit in that excursion to the middle of Nowhere, Utah just
before my Boston run. I know how to get dirt under my fingernails when I have
to. I had a dad. And who helped him with his Pine Wood Derby car? Who sewed on his patches
for his Cub Ccout uniform? So what if we lost the pine wood derby. His car
looked amazing! "I was a gay scout when gay scouts weren't cool."
Whose old prince charming high
school madrigal costume did he wear for Halloween? I sewed on all those pearls
on by hand. Who bought Gee-Gee's yellow Belle gown? The Disney Store made a
killing off me. How many times did I help pass out that candy while their
mother took them around the neighborhood? I oversaw Easter Egg coloring before that big Easter Egg hunt at the Mormon dentist's wife's annual blow out. I had such a crush on him not her. Remember the Godiva bunnies when you were little, kids? No? It cost me $50 dollars to overnight that big box of Valentines that one year so they would arrive in time. Daddy got distracted but daddy delivered.
What about all those calls from
daddy in the morning just as you were about to go to school? How did calls go
from daily to weekly to monthly? Was it me or Emily? Emily had all the holiday decorations
from our years of collecting. I was the one that couldn’t get enough $9.99
Victorian houses on sale at the Christmas Tree Store back in Hartford. She had
over twenty. I missed the Christmas Churches in our village and Friendly’s Ice
Cream we used to take the kids to. And those Yankee Candles all over the house?
Some of them came directly from the factory in Deerfield, CT we had toured on our
way to a weekend retreat at UConn professor’s Queen Ann in Vermont. Daddy was Christmas,
dang it! I let the Grinch steal it because I just let her have everything.
She had all jurisdiction over our
media archives, too. She had the video camera. She doled out a fraction of the photos and family VHS
tapes but there were others I wanted and needed and the divorce decree left it
all out. Why hadn’t I seen this coming?
She was changing. Emily was not
supposed to change. Nothing was supposed to change!
This house was where it all
happened. To me it was a sacred temple. Without this house I had no base. I had
even left behind all my power tools as well as the minivan—which she totaled.
Whenever I’d sub-let on my many long
stints back in Salt Lake waiting for the next career hoop to jump through I always made sure it
was kid friendly and there was room to spend the night. We'd agreed. No alcohol in the
house. At least not in my part of the house. Some of those homes were breathtaking.
I always landed on my feet. But it was not the same as Emily’s home base. Please
give me a break. Do not sell it. It, like me, was irreplaceable. Even with everyone
working overtime to fill my void, none of her uncles or any church leaders
could replace me. Not even my dad. I was expendable everywhere else. Don’t make
me expendable as a dad. Please don’t excommunicate me from my kids. Please
don’t disrupt this world I helped create. They are half of my DNA. You can’t change that!
Besides the market had crashed.
Not a good time to sell. Where could she possibly move to that she could afford
and that would be better than what she had right now? My greatest fear was that
she would flee Utahrded Utah altogether and move in with her mother in
California. The kids and I would be sunk. The quality of their lives and educations was at stake. And me.
Maybe it was time for me to let
go and stop trying control my actress ex-wife by peeing on her fire hydrant.
Mormons are personally responsible for fixing the world if you haven’t noticed.
Is that where I learned to play God? Maybe that wasn’t my job anymore. She
could take care of herself.
Why did I over pay her $1,000 for
recording that miniscule sound cue in my show? Why did I arrange for a former
lover to covertly hire her to do that industrial? Why had I once taken her
headshots to auditions and hand them to casting directors with my own? Why did I help arrange for her to speak at
that gay Mormon conference? Why did I still see dresses in shop windows that I
knew she would look great in? Why did I still think of her when I smelled “Coco
Chanel” on a woman at an HRC event? That was the fragrance I picked out when we were
married. Did she ever think of me when someone else wore Hugo Boss? No.
She still had our matching
wedding bands tucked away for safe keeping with our saying, “Be beloved” engraved inside. She was going to
give one to each of our kids someday. Why wasn’t I holding onto them? They travel light. Did she think I’d pawn
I’ve never pawned anything. Things
have just been stolen from my storage unit when I’d fall behind on payments and
they changed the lock. Honestly. That golden railroad pocket watch that
belonged to my great-great grandfather was stolen along with my Prada shoes.
I’d have to give Buddy my pewter mug from my mission to Portugal someday
instead of that watch when he finished his Eagle Scout. My grandpa had given me that watch when I got my Eagle Scout. I was the firstborn and my middle name was his grandfather's and his first name "Heard". Buddy was getting so close to his Eagle! Star. Soon Life! Gee-Gee
would be getting her mom's stunning diamond wedding ring someday. It was my
grandmother’s. Emily finally gave it back to my “Native American” giver mom and
to this day my mother is wearing it. Oy!
I still felt guilty we never had
that third child. Buddy had always wanted a little brother to go with his
little sister . . .
Maybe it was time to focus on
myself—and let go of my obsessive need to be an extraordinary, exceptional,
manipulative ex-husband. It was time to just keep trying to be an
extraordinary, exceptional, sober non-custodial dad. Show time!
Ho! Ho. Ho . . .
It was getting dark by five
o’clock as we headed outside to stuff the car with the kids’ ten-day supply of
luggage, coats, and travel pillows. I looked up. There were heavy, black storm
clouds, like a tsunami of ice ready to crash down on us. It was so cold you
could smell the snow rolling in. I was hoping to beat the blizzard—but it was
just now breaking. Shoot!
"Hurry up everybody!”We needed to get past the Point of the
Mountain at the south end of Salt Lake County quick or we could get stuck. It’s
steep and the inclement weather can make it so treacherous. No one wants to get
stuck out there by the prison. We’ve had family there.
I drove a dinky new little silver
Hyundai Accent that my dad co-signed for after I’d been sober for a while. I’d
wanted an affordable clunker. Dad twisted my arm to buy something new and over my head. My waify
car wasn’t built for this kind of snow. I didn’t have chains or snow tires. And
the roads weren’t even plowed yet. Darn it!
We had to get to my mom’s that
night in Cedar City. I might have considered waiting out the storm if my
father, Dr. Fales, hadn’t taken an entire day off from his needy second wife
and his medical practice in Las Vegas to drive his Escalade two-and-a-half
hours north to take me and the kids skiing for their first time. I learned
early in life that you don’t keep an empire building workaholic baby-boomer
raging. I mean waiting. Disappointing or inconveniencing my perfect Mormon dad
was something you just didn’t do. He regretted me coming out enough. That’s
what he told the Miami Herald.
I had planned this ski trip for
over two years. It was important to me to introduce my kids to things they had
never tried before. Most kids their age in the neighborhood had already been
skiing. So I was introducing them to a sport that was as common in Utah as
surfing is in California. I was a dad of firsts. Like sushi and Wicked. Alcatraz. Skiing, like
roller-blading, would be one to add to all the others.
Okay. Okay! I’ll admit it. I keep
score. And I was taking risks leaving this late. I was a risk taker in a long
line of lucky risk takers. Our favorite board game was Risk—and Monopoly. This
risk would be considered minor. Both sides of my family would condone it.
Mormon pioneers had risked everything for Utah. So could I.
So the kids and I gave their
mother hugs, “Merry Christmas! Give me a call when you get to your mom’s,
Steven.” And we were off.The second I
pulled out of the drive way in our bobsled I knew this was a really bad idea.
The roads were slick with ice and the snow and sleet were pummeling us. Crap!
This wasn’t just another little storm. This was the End of Days!
When skies were blue and roads
were clear I loved to cruise along and calmly reach back with The Carpenters CD playing and
affectionately squeeze my son or daughter’s calf or ankle and reassuringly look
in the rear view mirror and wink, “I know you’re there. Your daddy loves you,
sweetheart. I’m on the top of the world
lookin’ down on creation and the only explanation I can find . . .”
But as the car skidded back and
forth out of the driveway and through the rush hour holiday traffic I was
freaking out! Would I slide into someone else’s red tail lights before I even
got to I-15? My hands gripped the steering wheel, white knuckled at ten and
two. Two and ten! The radio was turned way up to hear the traffic reports. The
windshield wipers were going crazy. The defroster was on full-blast. Snow was
piling up on the side mirrors. I was terrified we’d get in an accident on my
Near tragedy had struck before on
my watch. Gee-Gee spent ten days in the ICU after a horse accident when I took
the kids to visit my father in Las Vegas a few summers before. It was clearly
my dad’s negligence but I never should have left Pa alone with the kids. That
horse stepped right on her chest when he dropped her sliding onto the back of
his saddle. I was in the house getting ready for a legitimate business dinner with an
investor when it happened. Gee-Gee made a full recovery. But something about
her grew up too fast after that. She was different. The trust fund she got out
of the insurance did not let us all off the hook. I would not put Emily or the
kids through that again.
Why was I driving in a storm?
As I’m driving in the blizzard at
five miles per hour trying not to stress out or think about accidents past or
future—using all the recovery tools and skills of this new round of still
fragile sobriety, my sweet, adorable twelve-year old son who is sitting next to
me in the passenger seat pulls out his cell phone before he could buckle his
seat belt and starts texting his friends. Probably that he’s already having a
really bad time.
How dare he text on
non-traditional family time! He knew the rules. This was a hot-button issue for
me and he knew it. We’d been having this power struggle for months. He wasn’t
supposed to be texting, not first thing and not during the perfect storm. I
needed a little help here. "All hands on deck!" The pilot had just illuminated
the “No Cell Phone” sign and I needed a co-pilot. Emily used to be my wingman. All
electronic noise-making devices needed to be turned off and stowed away.Now! Or this flight attendant was gonna go
all JetBlue on everyone. Beverage and phone service was interrupted
I hated the sounds that gosh darn
flippin’ flip phone made. I’d already replaced it once when Buddy lost it at
the beach on our family vacation housesitting in Santa Monica: another blowout
to Disneyland (Their third time. They had been to Hersey Land when we they were
little. That’s where daddy’s world famous magnet collection started. They had
been to all the parks at Disneyworld
when they were really little. That’s how Buddy’s sword collection and Peter Pan
fetish began. Oh. I took Buddy to see Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan, too! At the Bushnell. At five he sat enthralled
throughout the entire thing when other kids fell asleep. He also sat enthralled
when I was in a second Equity production of King
Lear!), Knott’s Berry Farm (Boy had it gone downhill since I was a kid. The
Log Ride was broken! And Snoopy? Really? Yawn.), the Santa Monica Pier (I
rented those bikes.), the Hollywood Bowl (With the Star
Wars finale with light sabers.)and a Catalina cruise (Golf
carting all over the island and then snorkeling). We didn’t have time to tour
the Queen Mary (where my mother
treated me to my first lobster at that nice restaurant). They were bored
throughout. “If you don’t start pretending to have a good time, kids, then how am I going
to take you to the Pyramids?”
L.A. couldn’t compete with the blow
out vacation two years before during my extended run in San Diego. The San
Diego Zoo and Sea World with a SAAB convertible we ran around in thanks to a
gay friend. There was Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon with my dad. There was
Lagoon Amusement Park with my mom. There were water parks. The gondola and zip
line at Snowbird’s Oktoberfest, the “Alpine Slides” and rock wall at Park City,
the windmills in Palm Springs, ad
infinitum und ad nauseum, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera . . .
Nothing could surpass NYC. The
Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, the Natural History Museum. All those
Broadway shows from The Lion King to The Music Man. The American Ballet’s
Balanchine Nutcracker. The American
Girl Doll Shop. The NBA Store. Serendipity. Oh, we ate out too much. Too much
fine dining. I taught them which forks to use. Buddy downed that raw oyster! These
were good, cultured kids.So why then
did they always seem to act so bored?
Maybe because I am listing too
much right now. This was on top of child support and keeping me camera ready in
a ruthless gay media on a solo performer’s salary. Daddy had just begun to
swear off his sugar daddy fans who enthusiastically helped “sponsor” in his
message and finance his role as a dad but really just wanted to get down his
pants. Daddy wouldn’t put out in the end so that’s why he was learning how to eek
another season out of in his worn out tennis shoes. Gosh I missed those checks
for thousands. The whole country was going out of business just as I was
Eyes on the road, Steven. The
When I took him to work on his
Life Saving Merit Badge, he left his phone precariously close to the community
pool. He let me have it for pointing
that out to him. What the heck? It wasn’t even his phone. It was on loan. Did
he want me to put together a new contract for him to sign with my terms and conditions? I promise I'm not as understanding as Sprint call center representatives in the Philippines.
Who were these people he was
texting anyway? Don’t parents have a right to know? Or was it he texting his
mommy already? I originally got that mobile
phone so both kids could call me on the road any time and bypass their mother.
I’d seen Emily screen my mother’s calls. I kept an 801 Utah number so I was
only just a local call away no matter where I roamed. I may not currently have
internet service but we had family cell phones. And gym memberships!
Under the present circumstances
and hazardous road conditions the phone needed to be off.My request was reasonable. He was testing my
boundaries. And as my parents and their parents would say, “I’m not here to win
a popularity contest.”
“Put the phone away. Please.”
“I mean it. Put it away! Now.”
“Okay. . .”
He groaned as he rolled his eyes
and put it in his pocket and huffed. Did I mutter under my breath like that to
my parents? And hadn’t he learned by now to read my mind and anticipate my
every parental whim like my dad
We skidded and my split-frazzled
concentration went back to the slushy road. I glanced over and he's slyly pulled
it back out texting undercover close to his body next to the door incognito. Did
he really think I couldn’t see?
dads can see everything.
“I told you to put it away. Now
turn it off.”
“Ugh!” He begrudgingly turned it
“Now roll down the window and
wipe the snow off the side mirror. Please.”
Inside I am freaking out! My eyes
are glued to the road. My heart is pounding. He helps move the snow. I still
“Thank you, son. Okay. Now roll it back up.”
We weren’t even to the highway
yet. No, I'm not pulling over to the side of the road to meditate. The Dalai
Lama would want me to add that meditation is a luxury for people who don’t have
As if the cell phone addiction
weren’t enough my son reaches down and pulls out these huge headphones
specially designed to block out parents forever. What was he listening to now?
Was it that Green Day CD with the Parent Advisory Warning? I liked that CD! I
bought it for him when we boycotted Target.
But this was no time for Green
Day!.Not even Karen Carpenter. Maybe Olivia Newton-John. I thought to myself, "If one of these huge semi’s
starts to slide into our lane with its truck horn blaring and crash into us I
need to be able to shout out the orders. I want the last thing they hear from
me to be, “Hold on, kids. I love you!”
It was time to be the dad.
“Buddy? Take those off.”
“Son! Take the headphones off
“So you can hear me.”
“So you can hear me!”
He took them off and—
“WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!!”
My son had never sworn at me before.
He got this from his mother.
Nevertheless and notwithstanding,
in that moment, all the fathers in my family tree all the way back to the
primordial ooze called Adam came to me and I channeled them. All the pioneers
who had ever crossed the Plains. All the Faleses who had ever fought in the
Revolutionary War. All my Viking and Celtic-caveman forefathers who had ever
sired sons and daughters into existence rose up from deep within my gonads and
whispered, “Do not let this fine young man defy your authority and get away
with this act insubordination.”
My right hand instinctively flew
90 degrees with precision accuracy and the requisite strength to bring order to
the car. It landed right in the middle of his tender, innocent, belligerent man-boy
chest. No fractures or bruises. But it temporarily knocked the petulant wind
right out of him. The riot was over.
But at that moment I knew I had
blown it. This was not the way I wanted our ten-day Christmas vacation to
start. My emotional bank account with the kids was long overdrawn. I was more
broke than Greece.
Once the aftershocks rumbled
through the car and the defiant tremors ceased we slowly drove past the Point
of the Mountain in silence. I calmly gave my American-idiot lecture. Then I
apologized in advance that this Christmas just might be hard—it was going to be
at my mother’s. But if you haven’t had at least one bad Christmas growing up
you never grew up. And boy did I grow up.
The kids cried themselves to
sleep—stunned at the display of their father’s testosterone. I was shocked,
too. Gee-Gee would want me to add that when I grabbed Buddy's ski cap and threw
it in the back it hit her. The brown ski cap with the white NYC logo I gave
him. Hers was the same but pink.
I had never hit my son before. I
got this from my dad.
In good weather I could get to my
mom’s house in about four hours. That night it took me ten hours as I zeroed in
to find the tire tracks of the 18-wheelers whizzing by in front of us so I
could drive us semi-safely home in their wake. I felt so isolated on the ice .
Steven Fales is the writer/performer of Confessions of a Mormon Boy available on iTunes and Amazon,com.