Joe S. Thomas
When I was a young man of about 6 years old my mother married a fat, redneck, scumbag named Mike. I’ll only use his first name. It sounds dickish enough. No offense if you’re a cool guy named Mike, but this fucker was far from it. I was sitting on the deck earlier after watching a few Creature Skateboard videos having a cup of coffee and all of these horrible thoughts about him started coming up so I thought I would write about some of those times.
My real father was a casualty of the Vietnam War. He didn’t die physically but he came back home a warped human being and a severe alcoholic. My mother couldn’t take it and they divorced. I really didn’t form a relationship with him until I was in my thirties. It wasn’t the healthiest of relationships either. My mother had to work around 12 hour days to put food on the table, pay bills and purchase clothes for my older sister and I to go to school. She did what she had to do. I appreciate and admire her for doing so. The only question I had was… why Mike? In my eyes, he had no redeeming qualities. To this day he has no redeeming qualities.
I’m really not down with poking fun at the way a person looks but I will suspend my manners while I write about this dickhead. Mike stood about 5 foot 5 ( I’m being generous), and he weighed well over 300 pounds. He attempted to dress like Hank Williams Jr. He wore cowboy boots, the cowboy hat, jeans and button down flannel, always. I’m getting nauseous just remembering. The guys I used to skateboard with actually dubbed him Hank Jr. It stuck. He drove a huge truck just like the one Jello Biafra describes in Night of the Living Rednecks. You could hear this thing from miles away due to the huge tires that would whine as he came down the street just from their sheer size. Talk about tiny penis syndrome… Yeash.
From what I remember my mom, my sister and I were living in a trailer until she met Mike. They saved up some money with the two of them working and bought a decent house for us in the suburbs. At the time the house was pretty nice. Especially coming from a home on wheels. We were pretty stoked for a while. My sister, who is five years older than I, had her own bedroom and I had my own as well. We started going to an all white, shitty high school with plenty of bigots, jocks and assholes who wanted to smash anything different from “their own” around this time as well. I fucking hated that school. Still do. It’s the same way it was when I left from what I’ve heard.
I think it’s important to say that I wasn’t a hell-raising kid. I was by no means an angel, but I knew kids who did things way off my radar that I would never think of doing as a child. I was a typical kid that needed guidance as all children do. I was fairly quiet and rather nervous as a kid. I felt horrible when my mother had to be away from us during her work hours. I can remember walking the streets and feeling extremely lonely and looking back I’m pretty sure my depression issues were already starting. I believe some of these things were due to the DNA of my father but I also know some things were due to the actions or lack of action on my parents’ part. I’m not blaming my mother, as I stated she did what she had to do but at some point I would think that somebody would notice the antisocial tendencies I was coming to know. I didn’t do anything evil or mean, I just preferred to be left alone most times.
As a young man I played baseball and football. One of the rules my new stepdad had was “if you start something, you’re going to complete it whether you like it or not.” I ended up hating group sports and got heavily into skateboarding. I told myself to just finish out the season of whatever sport I happened to be playing and never let them sign me up again. My mother seemed to agree with Mike on this issue and as an adult I can understand teaching a child responsibility but if they’d known the mental damage it was doing I have to wonder if my mother would have allowed it to continue. I just wasn’t able to voice my issues then. If you were a good player you had it made with the coaches and players. If you sucked you earned the pure hell that children can inflict on one another often with the backing of their parents. Looking back some of these people should have been investigated. I shit you not.
The last good year of my childhood was my last year of sixth grade in elementary school. Before I started attending the high school I spoke of earlier. Before getting into my high school days I recall something Mike did to me around the time I was in sixth grade. I wasn’t feeling well and my mother was at work. The school called my home and Mike had to come pick me up. The first thing he said to me as I opened the high, heavy door on his truck was, “you don’t look sick to me, get in.” I sheepishly hopped up on the seat and strapped myself in. I rarely said much to him because I didn’t like him. I noticed we weren’t heading toward our home so I asked where we were going. “It’s a surprise,” he said with that smartass look he would get on his fat face. We ended up going to Hardee’s so he could get himself something to eat though I was feeling ill. Not only that but he insisted we go in to eat. As he was in line I slinked over to a table to wait on him and the food. I put my head down on my arms and apparently fell asleep. When I woke up I saw Mike sitting there looking at me with pure anger in his eyes. I also noticed he’d eaten all of the food. “Are you ready to go now,” he asked. I said nothing about him eating my food though I was feeling a bit hungry. Once we got to his truck and out of earshot of anyone he said, “I guess you’ll think a little harder the next time you’re a smartass and try to hide from me.” I had no idea what he was talking about. When I put my head down I apparently drifted off to sleep and he didn’t see which table I had taken for us. He went and apparently ate all of our food at a different table before coming to the booth I was at, waking me and telling me to come on. None of what I did was on purpose in any way and I can’t tell you why, but that situation hurt my feelings so badly that I swore by all that I was I hated him and would never allow him into my life. And I didn’t from then on. I simply tolerated him because I had no choice.
Once, possibly trying to make up for the shitty behavior he was throwing my way for no other reason than I was a child, Mike tried to make up for a bit of his behavior in his own way by giving me a cheap ass watch. At the time I thought, wow, maybe he understands what he’s been doing and is trying to make up for it in his own way. The watch was a cheap, metal contraption that had the logo of the carpet mill he worked for on the face. He gave it to me, set it and told me to be back by a certain time. He rubbed my head and I took off on my bmx bike to see what my friends on the other side of the block were getting into that day. Every few minutes I would look down at the watch and beam with pride. I’d found a few friends that were on the streets jumping ramps, tossing a ball around and all of the other things kids around the age of ten were usually doing in the southern suburbs of the 1980’s. I remember not really being able to tell time very well on a watch with hands. I was more of a digital watch man back then but Mike showed me once the hand was on the 9, I was to be back home. It was only about 30 minutes from when he’d given me the watch. I kept looking and kept looking but the watch never reached the 9. I continued playing as any innocent kid having fun would do. Apparently the cheap ass watch had died while I was out playing. I ended up heading back home when I thought enough time had gone by. I didn’t want him to know I couldn’t really properly use the gift he’d given me. As I walked into the living room there he stood with a smartass, smug look on his face. He grabbed my arm, looked at the watch and then accused me of winding the time back so I could play longer with my friends. I tried to tell him I did no such thing but he wasn’t having it. He took the watch from my wrist and I never saw it again. These things happened way too often for my taste and it cemented the hate I felt for his fat ass. I swore to god I hated him with everything in my young heart. And I did. The mental, abusive games he played with me were wrecking my nerves. I never wanted to be alone with him but had to be due to the work schedules he and my mother kept. He worked mornings while I was at school and my mom left for her mill job around 2:30p.m. I didn’t get home from school until around 3:15 so I rarely saw my mother until her days off. I never told her about the things he was doing or the way he was making me feel. I didn’t know I had that option. Looking back, it probably wouldn’t have changed anyway.
I was sick and tired of taking the brunt of his bullshit. My sister was five years older than I and had learned to stay with her friends as long as she could. I didn’t have that option yet. This is when I got into skateboarding. Along with skateboarding I got into some great music known as punk rock. The two together absolutely changed my life forever and I’m still thoroughly thankful they did. The aggressive drive of the music urged me along as I would sing Black Flag’s “My War” as I kicked down the street with all I had in my body. “My War, you’re one of them, you say you’re my friend but you’re one of them!” I was fucking hooked. Black Flag, the Misfits, Circle Jerks, early Metallica, Anthrax, Rollins Band, Mudhoney, Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, Descendents, Minutemen, Social Distortion and so many others ran through my mind giving me the education I would truly need to survive the upcoming years of high school and more of Mike’s bullshit. This is where I truly made every effort in the world to stay away from him and to not speak unless spoken to and then when I did it was just clipped, angry, half sentences. I simply couldn’t be bothered by his shit anymore. I was forming my own plan. He certainly wasn’t part of that plan. In fact he was the anti plan. I never wanted to be anything like that motherfucker. I promised myself I wouldn’t be and I have kept that fucking promise.
I’m not saying there weren’t times that I did deserve to get into trouble. For instance, a skater friend and I got his mother to drop us off at the mall by ourselves. I think I was around 12 or 13 at this point. Well into skateboarding and punk rock. We both went into a music store, (remember those?), and stole some cassette tapes. I got caught and was held at the security guard office until one of my parents could come and get me. Who shows up, you guessed it. Mike. He told the security pigs he would take care of me and thanked them for not doing anything further in regards to legal action. I was actually scared to death and pretty glad myself. He grabbed me by the arm and led me out of their office to his huge Night of the Living Rednecks truck. Not a single word was spoken on that long drive back to the homestead. Once we were in the house he told me to go to my room and not come out until my mother got home which was around 8:15-8:30 pm. I was feeling really shitty for what I’d done and was prepared to make a heartfelt apology to my mother which was sincere and truthful. I really did feel bad. There was no reason for my behavior other than I saw something I wanted, didn’t have the money and took it anyway. That’s wrong and I knew it. When my mother got home it took her a few minutes before she came into my room. I assume Mike was giving her the low down on what happened. I don’t remember what set the two of us off but when my mother entered the room she was steaming mad which made me defensive and I don’t remember what was said but I said it loudly. The next thing I knew Mike comes around from behind my mother who promptly exits the room and he begins hitting me with a belt saying “you aren’t going to talk to your mother that way you damn thief.” Now, I’ve never spanked my own children because my girls never needed it. Even if they did, I’m not sure I would have had the heart to lay a harmful hand on my child. I agree I should have been punished but here’s where I have the problem. In my opinion, a step parent should never lay a hand on someone else’s child. Period. That’s my opinion and I’ll stick to it until I die. If my mother thought I should have been spanked, then she should have done it. He certainly wasn’t correcting me out of love with that leather belt and huge belt buckle. My adrenalin was spiked so much that I just laughed at his fat ass exerting that much energy toward anything other than eating. After this episode I cooled off and went to my mother and gave a heartfelt apology. I truly was ashamed. As for Mike, I literally never spoke to him again. I hated him and it was more than apparent that he hated me. Fine, cool.
A few months after this incident Mike started going to a gym. He would pack a bag of sweat clothes but he always came back in his “business attire.” It soon came to light that the fat motherfucker wasn’t going to a gym at all but he was going somewhere with another lady and was cheating on my poor mother. What truly blew my mind about the whole thing is the fact that there was another woman out there that would find that stubby piece of shit attractive enough to breathe hard on top of her. I wish I had a picture. I really do. The way I found out about the affair was somewhat strange. My friend and I had been skating. The sun was going down and I had school the next day so I decided to head home. Once I got there I noticed almost all of his stuff was gone. My mother hadn’t spoken a word to me about the ordeal but she already knew. To be honest, I have never been happier until I realized he’d hurt my mother and left her yet again to feed and clothe two kids on her small paycheck except now she had a mortgage on top of that. And so the story goes…
I suppose it was good for me to purge some of this shit and get it out of my system. Honestly, I’m writing this for future step parents. Please remember a child is a human being that soaks up everything around them. The good and especially the bad. Trust me, the bad can manifest in some horrible ways as that young man or woman begins to grow and have a mind of their own. If you’re a step parent, discuss with your spouse punishments that are tolerable when little Johnny or Jill fucks up. They will fuck up. But please use your hands to embrace, correct and love the child. Beating them and playing childish mind games will only lead your relationship down a path of destruction that could have been avoided but will never be forgotten. Listen, learn, love and be there and respect the children as the small human beings they are. Please. Our world needs love. Everyone needs love, especially through the trying times of life. You don’t have to listen to my story but maybe someone somewhere will read this and it will strike a chord within their heart. Those are my hopes anyway. Love and respect to you all. Except Mike.