My dad cornered me for another talk overnight. TL;DR, it seemed to be for the best in the end. Against the odds, I think I got through to him about some hard truths that my parents almost never want to hear (that is, hard truths for them; I’m used to most of that shit by now).
The striking sociological takeaway from this talk was just how skillfully and thoroughly Joe Dirtbag has manipulated my parents and walked all over them, from a position not only of general socioeconomic inferiority but also of direct financial dependency, by playing a dominant and aggressive role in the family structure. Come to think of it, this is psychology, too, a subject that a normal person couldn’t stand to study without being blind drunk. Thanks, Dr. Hasan. Slavoj Zizek or I dunno who the fuck once said that America is a psychological society, not a sociological society; look it up for yourself if you give a damn, because it’s pretty fucking true.
The quick and dirty reason for this is that sociological explanations would scandalize the lower classes about the conduct of the bourgeoisie and the big money, causing fine rice bowls to shatter and make a mess. That isn’t exactly what’s going on between my parents and Joe Dirtbag, though. Much of his stance towards the impressive number of moneyed and/or leisured people in his life is shockingly craven and cynical to the extent that any sense can be made of it at all. By my dad’s reasonable enough speculation, he resents people he perceives as more privileged than himself (specifically me, but I’m a minor investor, and I have to believe it applies more or less equally to his major investors). They give him money and/or free labor, but he still manages (we suspect) to stew about what a shitty, degraded lifestyle he has come to lead, in contrast to those he occasionally squeezes for handouts, and blames this misfortune on things other than his refusal to properly monetize his farm and try to restructure the debts that he incurred in the course of unbelievably reckless business deals.
I often imagine that he resents me for owning Red Wings, and often fairly new ones, while he makes do with $40 Chinese pieces of shit from Bi-Mart. It’s not like he isn’t surrounded by affluent softies who wouldn’t explicitly give him two or three hundred dollars in boot money for the asking. The obstacle to Ephesians 3:20 boot money is that, like the Family Shrew, he is appallingly disingenuous about his financial dependency on others. On a couple of occasions when I was staying with them, JD crudely pretended to totally be able to afford groceries even though he suggested that it’d be cool if I stopped by the store and picked up my own half-and-half. He clearly thought he was being smooth. I was profoundly disgusted. I recognized that it could be humiliating to admit to being so broke, but they never minded trying to score freebies for ostensibly philanthropic but functionally for-profit purposes, and I’d been working for free through an indefinite stretch of unemployment, so I found it inexcusable that JD wouldn’t cowboy the fuck up.
The bigger problem for me, manifesting itself in full several years later, was my parents’ insistence that Joe Dirtbag was fundamentally a decent person, and hence incapable of the abusive and menacing acts that I had specifically accused him of committing. Just tonight my dad repeated his suspicion that I had never given him a full and accurate explanation of the circumstances surrounding my disagreements with JD, i.e., in effect, that I was catastrophizing innocuous behavior and shading the truth in my own favor. I can imagine that I inadvertently offended JD and FS from time to time, but they offended and distressed the hell out of me more times than I can count, and I generally kept a stiff upper lip. Besides, nothing that I possibly did to offend them justified Joe Dirtbag’s drinking behind the wheel or his repeated out-of-control emotional rampages in front of me. That shit was abnormal, full stop.
I didn’t start wondering consciously whether Joe Dirtbag might be senile until my attorney friend asked me about this during our phone consultation in April 2013. The incident provoking the consultation (cornering me indoors while I was on my way out of the shower and asking me how I was doing at the top of his lungs) had involved disinhibition serious enough to make me take the possibility seriously, and his stunning meltdown over the yard work in May 2012 was almost a year old, but at the time I was hesitant to say that senility was a factor. Day One of the two-day clusterfuck with Busboy and the cop in September of last year looked powerfully senile at the time, but Day Two, the calculating and self-controlled day, I found truly chilling. The creepy geezer was either going senile on Day One or uncannily feigning senility to gaslight me. I have him dead to rights on the gaslighting; what I can’t say for sure is what his true mental state was from hour to hour on Day One.
What I can say about his comments on Day One is that they were totally out of character from everything I can recall him having previously said about the police. I had known him to be exceptionally perceptive and thoughtful about specific agencies and officers, so hearing him suddenly yell crazy nonsense about a cop he admitted to never having met was alarming. I had higher expectations of him than of, say, Mixups in my Mind. Mixups cursing the fucking pigs at the top of his lungs would not have surprised me because I knew full well that he was crazy as hell and prone to violent ideation. Joe Dirtbag didn’t come close.
Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure that Joe Dirtbag would have immediately confronted Mixups from within punching distance if Mixups had come onto the property and started hollering about the police in the same fashion as JD hollered about Busboy and the cop. I don’t think he would have put up with my yelling about that shit, either. He probably would have told me to shut up. And again, I can’t see why any reasonable person would have no problem with a geezer squealing disinhibited slurs about one of his tenants and a random cop from a position of authority, starting while the cop was on the property, well within sight, and possibly within earshot. Tolerate it, maybe, but approve of it? Hell no.
It’s been surreal to find myself unable to convince my parents that Joe Dirtbag is a vector of low-class chaos and danger. They’ve complained about the squalor of his property and conceded that he “has an edge to him,” and I’ve told them about his menacing of me, the untreated acutely psychotic guys he allowed to wander around his property for years, Captain Flimflam and the overflowing portajohns, the rats, and Pot-o-Shit Friend. Among other things, as I’ve discussed at painstaking length in these pages. They wanted desperately to believe that JD remained fundamentally middle-class. They’ll probably want to believe so again. The middle and upper classes cannot fathom the lower classes. I developed a decent working sense of the lower classes in my teens and twenties, so I knew pretty well what I was facing with my slumlords in Eureka and then with Joe Dirtbag’s meltdowns. This didn’t make it conveyable to my parents. I’m thankful that they’ve even started listening to my stories of belligerent white trash hell from time to time. I don’t make any of that shit up. What I’ve actually faced is too excruciating and frightening to embellish.
God do I hope Pot-o-Shit Friend was a joyous poo enthusiast, not just an ineffectual, humiliated poor loser like Lady Pisspan clearly was. A psychological society of malnourished-looking gay hipster freaks secretly savoring their own flavor in the privacy of their shit shacks is a credible pursuit of happiness, although not the Ragin’ Canajun’s happiness when he disposed of the trash can afterwards. A sociological society of Tobacco Road feudalism funded by gaslit pushovers is a scandal and a disgrace. Writing to code enforcement was the least I could do. It is to my quiet but ongoing guilt that I have yet to report that disaster to the police.