On Being One That Didn’t Fall Far From The Tree

I’m sitting on the toilet. It’s a normal day, just like any others. A whole lot of me, pants around my ankles, trying to kill time at work. Business is slower than the first electric wheelchair. Half the people that come in are looking for cigarettes or wine, neither of which we actually have. Most of the cashiers are doomed to do stock, which is still a fruitless job when there isn’t any stock depleting. Although I am ashamed of myself, I waste a good 5 minutes on the communal throne. In between a spastic set of beeps being heard outside, I smell something. Something far too familiar to have followed me all the way here. It smells like home. Not home as in the combination of a couch, over-sized bed, hammock, and roommates that love you [but not love you that much]. It smells like the dread I would get as a child as I had to urinate 32 minutes after dinner. Or 85 minutes before dinner. It smells like him. I smell like him.

I should have saw the smell coming. It is genetics after all. You would be hard pressed to argue with an imprinted chemical code. When one is approached and told that he is just like his father, the one would most likely not make the argument “Fuck you! The science behind it is all a lie, coordinated to make you love your father more!” or “Fuck you! The science behind it is all a lie, coordinated to make you love your father more, even though my own mother didn’t love him enough to stay with him, or use his semen to procreate! Take it back, dickhead!”. Okay, well I’m sure these phrases have probably been said by someone. It’s only natural to hate or disown your father. For the past 10 years, my cousin Nick has had the tendency to call me Uncle Pat when I “act out of character”. This is a phrase that I had grown accustomed to, maybe even proud of, but a little confused by. On the other side, if I was to call Nick Uncle Cecil, then the night would regrettably turn into a no holds barred anger and cry fest. People have different opinions about their fathers, and how they feel about becoming them. But it could be argued that I may be just as much like my father as Nick is, although we both know my father more, and also appreciate his existence infinitely compared to Cecil. But you don’t choose your genetic code, and even if you don’t even know your father, you will probably still end up having a similar personality. And me? I’m slowly learning that I am becoming a carbon copy of him.

It started when I was really young. Or at least, young enough to believe that I could grow up to be like anybody. I was probably dead-set on being an introverted computer programmer, living in the hills of Minnesota. I was too young to even know if there was hills in Minnesota. I would have disagreements with my dad. Probably over stupid things like Pepsi being better than Coke, or not being able to get the new Limp Bizkit album. Every time this happened, after we both retreated to our respective rooms, my mom would come in. She wouldn’t console me, or make anything better. She would merely state a fact:

You two only fight because you are so alike, and neither of you understand why”.

My mom was never the wisest wolf in the pack, but she has always seemed adamant about this fact of life. Slowly throughout life, I have been picking up many of his characteristics:

– The way we introduce ourselves is striking in resemblance. A limp lean-in and handshake, with an abrupt and winded “Hi!”. The tonal inflection in this phrase is exactly the same between both of us. It is also the same exact “hi” that is placed before “yeah” whenever we start a business-like conversation.

Yeah, hi, this is Pat Turnwald: M-13 Storage”

“Yeah, hi, this is Troy Turnwald: I’m calling about cock ring replacement”

There are many other aspects of conversation that we both bear. We have the same bewildering stutter when we are trying to make a point. When we decide to agree with something that should be disagreed upon, we have the same 7 second pause, followed by “…okay…”. This is the same phrase/same inflection that is used when we decide to ask someone a senseless question, and then give the OK as the only response to the response.

“Are there many bathrooms on Mackinac? …Okay…”

“Is there anything cool going on in Chesaning? …okay…”

Our home habits are similar as well. My latent continual watching of episodes of Seinfeld are very reminiscent of his prior syndicated M*A*S*H addiction. Although we eat different things outside of the house, his dinner diet of Hot Dogs and Baked Beans is just like my steady diet of Chili Dogs and Cheese Fries.

– I discovered years ago that I have an affinity for waking up early to go to work. For the past 25 years, my father has risen at a time between 2-4AM to do the daily grind. When I found myself to be in a position to do the same, I knew deep down that I would not screw it up. There’s something so damn serene about going to work at an early hour. Whether it was driving from the sleepy grand Rapids to a sleepier Standale, or taking a zombie train from Bed-Stuy to SoHo, I have cherished these serene moments. I understand a small part of my father’s motive for all these years. I could only hope that if we act alike, we also think alike.

– In general, my work habits have been changing drastically. I am starting to get angry at my co-workers for slacking off (and in the same respect, I get mad at myself for slacking off). I now feel that if there’s a job to be done, to fulfill a tiny brick into the process of humanity, that we all might as well do these jobs with stride. I am starting to become frustrated over being shorted 45 minutes on my time-card. There are many occasions when I almost downright refuse to leave work. If I have nothing to do outside of work, then why exactly should i leave work? I could work 5 more hours, and not feel any different. I’m getting pissed over having holidays off. I get antsy on my days off, thinking that I could be working. The fact of the matter is that I am on the path to workaholism. This is a disease that my father has had since the day I was born. He works, and works, and works some more, so that the people around him could have a better life. Right now, I am at the phase of wanting to work, work, and possibly work some more. Once I find a work that’s worth ending my life over, I will feel much more comfortable with having his work habits.

In a July daymare, I saw him in the mirror. As the years go by, the obvious is starting to happen. My hair is parted in a fashion that he has had it in years. We both grow our hair out to strange extremes. When I grew out a red mustache, it was the icing on the cake: I was a 23-year-old version of him. I am the spitting image. And my voice is the is the aural equivalent. We share the same laugh. Sometimes I creep myself out with it. Same can be said about sneezes and coughs. It seems like the farther away I become from him, the closer I become to being him. Although we have lived extremely different lives, we are still the same person in many ways. Many men are afraid of becoming their dad because they spend so much time focusing on his fallacies. I still can’t really see any major genetic disasters. My father is a hard-working man who loves his wife and children. I can’t help but think that someday, I would like to be like that too. Everything else in between, well, that’s the adventure of life.

My name is Troy. And I am Pat Turnwald’s son.