OK, my 5c... Great dialogue, the tension at the dinner table is good. Growing up to see what your parents actually are... also great. I'll point out some issues in green:
well I posted this in another thread and never got a response... does this strike the right tone between the latent racism of the father and the digust for it from his son?
Sometimes I really hate my dad. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love him, he is after all my dad, but then he just opens his mouth and stupid seems to fall out, letter after letter, word after word.
“So I’m at the gas station and this spear chucker is trying to clean the windshield while the gas is pumping.”
And here we go again...
“God, dad, really?” I chew off my quick retort to what is about to likely be a somewhat funny the problem is racism is never funny, so this might put people off. I feel it points to the sons latent racism. I know that's not what you meant, but it reads badly yet highly racist story from my pops.
“What? What did I say wrong this time PC police?” he pauses for a second and puts down his fork, laughing at the uncomfortable look on my face. “What, spear chucker isn’t okay?”
I grunt and shove another fork full of spaghetti in my mouth before I’m tempted to answer.
“I’m not saying anything negative about him, all I know is he’s dark enough to have just stepped out of the oven, so yeah, spear chucker.”
My little sister and two brothers both have their eyes locked on their plates and the only other person at the table looking up is my mom. She’s got that little sad frown in the corner of her eyes and winces every time dad opens his mouth.
It’s not that he’s even racist, well outwardly racist I guess. He is racist because he says racist things, so stop making excuses for his behaviour, it just makes the MC feel like a bit of a racist too. He just thinks its okay to make those types of jokes and say those types of things. You can leave this in.
Mom reaches an arm out and grabs him by the elbow.
“What? Not this racist crap again.” He slams a hand on the table. My eyes go to my plate again as my stomach starts the fall into my shoes. “I’m the farthest thing from a racist. Do you see me running down the street with a noose in a white cap and gown? Jesus Christ. It’s just a story.”
I’m ashamed. Yeah, I love my pops, but in this moment, like the many before it, I’m ashamed. He’s the most racist person I know, and yet I feel bad when I point it out to him. Good, more like taking a stand, which doesn't fit in with the wishy-washy "outwardly racist" stuff above.
“You know what I think, pop,” I say as I swallow the mouthful of food I have. A silence follows my words and the whole table becomes quiet.
I put my fork down beside my plate and rub my hands on my shorts for a second, trying to get rid of the sweat there. When I look back up his eyes are still leveled at me, they bore into the back of my skull and I almost look away but I can’t bring myself to.
How can someone so nice be so twisted and ignorant at the same time? The sad part is that to a degree he’s right. In public, I have never seen him raise a hand or be put off by anyone no matter the color of their skin, or their race. I've seen him go out of his way to help the same people he calls funny names at the table. It doesn’t excuse the ignorance, though.
“So what are you doing tonight anyways Max. You never said.” He finally says as he picks up his fork and continues eating.
I slowly swipe my hand up my shorts again and can feel the circular ring of the condom in my pocket. For a moment I can feel the ring almost heating up and burning into my leg and I thank god that I’m sitting at the table correctly. I rush to place my hands on the table again.
“uh. Capital U here You remember Kate right? The head cheerleader?”
“Cute girl, kinda tall and skinny, no ass?” he asks with a chuckle over at my mom. Her wince is more noticeable this time.
“Uh yeah. Uh no, he's also a sexist now and that's OK...? Maybe have the MC call him out in head on this too? Well, she’s having a pool party and I was…”
“Going to get smashed and try to have sex with her?” He cuts me off.
I can feel the burn on my face as the blood rushes in.
“No, dad. Dad with a capital D I hardly even know her.”
“What’s to know? She good looking, you’re 18, go get her!”
“I’m going with Aliesha.” I blurt out and instantly regret it.
My dad starts his heartfelt belly laugh from the other end of the table. Growing up I can remember hearing this laugh and knowing that something good was about to happen, feeling the mirth of the situation wash over me. Now I just wondered wonder, you're in present what stupid thing he’d say next. Lovely, how we worship our parents and then... don't.
I push out of my chair both hands on the table and my mom jumps as it clatters to the floor.
“She’s Canadian pop. And her family is from India anyway, not Pakistan.” My Cheeks burn hotter as a seething anger finds it way into my thoughs. thoughts
“Are you guys dating? Did you look her up on connect the dots dot com or something?” he laughs a little as I turn away from the table.
“No, we're not dating. We’re just friends.” My right hand is fisted at my side as I start to stalk out of the room.
“Max, you know he doesn’t mean it. He’s just trying to be funny.” Mom doesn’t even sound like she believes it.
I round on the table again, all eyes on me and start waving my hands in the air as I rant. Pull the line below up here
“Holy crap dad. It's racist, how can’t you see that? You think because you make small jokes behind closed door doors it doesn’t hurt anyone, but then Steph and the twins are there the whole time hanging on every stupid hateful word that is tumbling out of your mouth. You’re turning THEM racist and you just think it’s a goddamn funny joke!”
My dad is on his feet in a second and closing the distance between us. I drop my hands to my sides knowing I couldn’t stop what was about to happen if I wanted to. Stars explode across my vision as he slaps me in the face.
“I … AM … NOT … RACIST!” he bellows.
I turned and looked him in the eye again, his anger slowly faded as I stared him down. I reached a hand up to the still burning handprint on my cheek and rubbed it a little.
“Pops. Your intentions might be the purest thing in the world where other people are concerned. Hell I know I've never seen you treat anyone with anything but respect, but do you think if a single person of color heard you talk like this, calling them pakis and spear chuckers, that they would think that you were anything more than a racist? Why the hell do you think I’ve never brought Aliesha over here, I’ve only been friends with her for 8 years.”
As he opened his mouth to say something I cut him off.
“Do you have any idea what it feels like to be ashamed of your father?” I ask before turning on my heel and marching myself out the door.
My car was sitting in the driveway in the slowly fading light, and I stopped on the front porch and took a couple deep breaths as I worked my jaw.
I do actually like it, it's very confrontational, and tragically a conversation that is a reality.