On the drive home, I was complaining to my father about my problem disconnecting from work. It’s real easy for him and I think it’s because he’s always been an hourly worker. If he ain’t getting paid for it, he ain’t giving a fuck. I was also dreading doing homework with my son, who is kinda smart, but doesn’t put forth the right kind of effort. “Right kind of effort” is douchey. I know. But he rushes through everything because it’s not fun, you know? It’s fucking homework. So, pretty much every day, I have to wade through the wild lead scratchings on his papers and then deal with him being upset that I have found his answers to be wrong. I asked my dad, how the fuck did I do this? How was I able to do homework? My father didn’t even know English and I learned the language while in school. How in the fuck was I in honors classes? He says, aptitude. And I call bullshit, though I really don’t know how I pulled it off.

I ask him how he did in school. And he tells me he was smart enough but he just did enough to get by. He didn’t want to join the study groups. As long as he got a 70, he was ok with it. He tells me how instead, as soon as he could, he used to walk 3 to 4 miles to a camp with his grandfather to cut sugar cane and make a little money. And he’d walk the miles back with the old man, last name of Caballero. How when he was in Spain he used to work washing dishes in a hotel and how he’d think oh man, it’s gonna be an easy day and then several parties would show up at 10 pm and he’d be washing dishes til 1 in the morning. How in the labor camp in Cuba he was favored for being a problem solver and how some of the bosses would try to fuck with him but the head boss with the lispy voice would protect him. Was he fucking this guy? I don’t know. He tells me this is where he met and protected my pediatrician, Dr. Castro, who had never done work with his hands. I guess it was handy being friends with a doc. These are the little things I can tease out of him before he realizes he’s telling stories and quickly says he has some things to do and thanks for calling, he’ll talk to me later.

This guy, what’s he got to do but feed the cats?

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