Putting Things on the Table

Subject: Putting Things on the Table

Date: Friday 7/28/06 5:14:00 PM

Friends Locked for Obvious Reasons. The past few days have been…uh…fun…yes…fun, that’s the word…

Dear Dad,

We need to talk, but I think that since talking is

what’s now put this rift – which may be irreparable –

between us, it might be more efficacious to write to

each other and say what we both know has been needed

to be said to each other, in a respectful manner, for

some time.

Let’s start with what lead up to the fight; and this

isn’t unbiased, it’s my perspective, how I saw things

on my end so you’ll have to make allowances for that.

On the phone you told me to fax something, as I was

trying to explain to you why that wasn’t possible –

the fact that I don’t have a landline in my apartment,

which isn’t a complaint, I think anyone other than a

business should only operate on cellular – and the

fact that I have mono, am tired, and that it was

pouring outside so I would have to walk ten minutes to

south campus in a thunderstorm, wait an hour for a bus

at 4:30PM and sometime, at 5:30 when I got to campus,

I’d then have to attempt to find a place on campus

where I could send a fax.

However, you wouldn’t let me get a word in edge wise.

You then said “I’M DEALING WITH THIS IN 94 DEGREE

WEATHER!” the only reason I had them call you is

because I wanted them to tell you – my father – what

was going on because I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND. Just the

same way you ask me questions about Pharmacy I ask you

questions about things I don’t know; and when I

realized that you were tense and upset about something

and I wasn’t sure what and I was trying to ask you to

deal with this later you exploded.

What you said to me HURT ME; because I thought that at

our ages we were past that and we had a mutual respect

for each other, apparently that’s not so. What you

said cut me…something that very few people have been

able to do.

I know that your work is stressful, but my life is

stressful too. Since I’ve gotten to college I’ve had

at least one friend die a year, sometimes one die a

semester. I’ve held my friends as they’ve died of HIV

and AIDS and I’ve had my friends be beaten by the

police and I’ve had people shot in front of my car and

the thing is, I don’t get to ignore these things…I

can’t run away and I can’t fire these people. I’m not

a CEO, I’m a Gay Jewish Man who’s forced to stand up

to the Klan when they send me letters to my attention

to let me know that they’re going to demonstrate

because if I don’t defend myself, who will defend me?

If I am not for myself, than who is for me? If I don’t

stand up now, when? I know that you think I do too

much activism, please realize that I don’t have a

choice…the kids who put hits on my head in high

school are nothing to the challenges that I face right

now – and this isn’t me being melodramatic – just

illustrating that I have stress too.

These challenges are my own and like an adult I bear

the burden that’s been placed on my shoulders and I

try to keep things in perspective because I know that

there are other thing’s going on. Because I have

friends in Beirut and in Palestine and in Israel and I

feel for each one. So I’m sorry you’re having a

stressful day, but when you put it in perspective, I

think others have more of a right to complain about

stress than WE do.

We all have stress, but it’s how we handle it that

shows our valor.

I’d like for it to be okay to pretend that we had a

perfect relationship growing up…but we both know we

didn’t. I’d like to think that I have happy memories

but right now, after hearing the tone of voice that

you used the other day, one I haven’t heard you use

for a long, long time…the one you used when you came

home, slammed the garage door and yelled at my brother

and myself for not doing something that we ‘were

supposed to do’ but you never told us to do because we

“should just know.”

When did you forget what it was like to be a

kid…more accurately, when did you forget what YOU

were like as a kid?

My memories growing up aren’t of the BBQ’s but are of

you not being able to do things for yourself and using

your children as your personal staff instead of

treating us like family members. I can recall vividly

the fights of you not understanding that we had other

things going on and couldn’t drop what we were doing

to be your servants at whim; knowing full well that

you were capable of doing at least half of what you

requested us to do for you, on your own. My memories

are of you having no respect for anyone’s time or

things but your own.

I’m sorry if you’re angry that kids cost money, but

you produced us, we are of your flesh and your blood

so yes, the family gets to support us until we’re able

to take the reins and support ourselves and you don’t

SEE how lucky you are to have David, Sam and Myself as

your children. Three kids who haven’t succumbed to the

pitfalls of drugs or alcohol abuse, three kids who

aren’t in trouble with the law, three kids who are

smart and handsome and good people.

Does it BOTHER you that this is my perception of you?

Does it BOTHER you that your children breathe a sigh

of relief when you leave the house, because the

tension leaves? It should.

I know you may have said what you said because you had

low blood sugar. But guess what, that’s a reason, not

an excuse. I don’t blame things on my Tourettes or my

OCD or my ADHD because part of being a responsible

adult is taking responsibility and owning up to what

we say. And saying “I’m sorry” not “If I did this I’m

sorry” and there’s a difference between the two. Part

of being an adult is saying “I made a mistake.” Part

of being an adult is being responsible and that means

more than just going to meetings on time. It means if

you know that you get vile when you have low blood

sugar you keep a tube of glucose tablets with you.

And if you perceived me saying I don’t have a land

line as a complaint (which it wasn’t) and thought that

I was being spoiled – something we’ll address in a

second – guess what, I’m the 21 year old, you’re not.

I fuck up, I understand that. I fuck up often. I make

mistakes daily – and I try to learn from them, but no

matter what from now until I’m old and grey I’m GOING

to make mistakes…thank GOD, I can’t imagine the

burden of what it must be like to always be right and

never have the room to screw up, I like screwing

up…I learn things from it.

Every time we go on vacation you tell us how much each

of us cost you and you don’t even realize you’re DOING

IT (and not realizing doesn’t make it okay) and if we

don’t go with you, you also get angry…so like

always, the deck is stacked against us. We can’t win.

My entire childhood never being able to win a game

where no one but you got to see the rules and the

rules always changed. Guess what, I’m not playing

anymore and I’m smacking those rose colored glasses of

how you were a perfect child off your face and I’m

calling you out on your bullshit.

Marvin, the rift that you put between us is big and I

don’t think you realize just how big it is. You can

call me many things, but don’t ever call me spoiled.

Every family member contributes what they can to their

abilities. From each what they can give, to each

according to their needs. Dave helps out with what

he’s good at. I help out with medical and legal issues

(you’ll recall I was the one with you at Jacobi), Sam

does what he can, but he gets a lot of leeway, or at

least he SHOULD because he’s a kid and should get to

play, not just for himself, but because there’s kids

around the world loosing limbs right now and he gets

to play for them because they can’t and Mom manages

the house, handles all the paperwork, the bills.

Everyone contributes…and yes you contribute money

but you don’t see yourself as WE…you see yourself as

I. And the money as YOURS…it’s not YOURS it’s what

you CONTRIBUTE TO THIS FAMILY.

But this is how it always is, it’s “your office” and

“your living room” and “your kitchen” and “we take up

too much space” – it’s not yours, it’s OUR living room

and if you can’t see why this difference is so

important, you don’t get what it means to be FAMILY.

You say mean and hurtful things; I will never forget

when you grabbed my stomach last year at the movie

theatre and called me fat, and how you made fun of my

weight growing up – you’re lucky I didn’t develop an

eating disorder – and I can still remember when Mom

called me crying – YOU MADE MY MOTHER CRY WITH YOUR

WORDS. YOUR WORD ARE POWERFUL BECAUSE PEOPLE LOVE YOU.

As a child if I got angry because you were out of

line, offensive, horrible, mean it wasn’t because you

were any of those things – no, because you can never

admit you’re wrong or what you said wasn’t okay – It’s

because I ‘need my medication upped’ – YOU FUCKING

TRIED TO DRUG ME BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T WANT TO DEAL WITH

YOUR SHIT AND THAT ISN’T OKAY. You didn’t ever want me

to be mad, only butterflies and roses here…you

didn’t think it was okay for me to express the gambit

of human emotion and that isn’t okay…because it says

a lot about you.

I’ve dumped boyfriends for less…I’ve kicked people

out of my life for less and I’m not doing that to you

because you’re family but you’re walking a fine line

and pretty soon you’re going to have to make some

choices and what those choices are, are up to you, and

what decision you make, is also up to you. I’m hurt,

and I’m hurt bad and I’m angry and I’ve read and

re-read this letter to make sure it was okay to

send… because if you’re going to be mad at me, I’d

rather that be because I stood up like a man and laid

everything out on the table like guys are supposed to

do instead of whatever transgression you perceived me

of making.

You’ve never been called to account for your actions

to other people (and an ‘I’m kidding’ or a ‘sorry’

doesn’t cure everything) and I can’t send you to your

room but I’m calling on your bullshit in the only way

I can.

Come up here and get the car, I can’t even look at it

without wanting to vomit and having my chest fill with

heat and anger. Come up here, fly up, and drive it

down – I never want to see it again, and then give me

back my money – every dime I paid you for it. I’ve

never been more serious in my life, I won’t look at

it, touch it or drive it. It’s yours again.

I’m mailing you my cell phone, you’ve told me how much

that cost you constantly too so clearly it’s a burden

you shouldn’t have to bear. Take it. I don’t want it.

You’re not getting my new number, if you want to talk

to me, you’ll have to write it down, this will help

both of us because when you write I’ll know that what

you’re writing is what you mean to say instead of

having you say hurtful things that you may say in the

heat of the moment, if you say something hurtful I’ll

know you meant it.

And I’m saying this because it needs to be said; I’m

21 and I have a lot to be proud of, I’ve had some

really rocking achievements but the truth is you don’t

know anything about me – at all. You don’t know who I

am or what I stand for or what I like or what I listen

to or what I study and I don’t expect to change

people, because people will only change if they want

to but I’m putting everything down on paper so you

know where you stand.

The only way you can be in my life now is if you’re

there to support me (and we’re not talking

financially) just be there on the sidelines. I don’t

want to hear “well you should study pharmacy” or “you

should do this” I know what I need to do for me.

Another thing you’ll need to deal with: I’m graduating

in short order and I’m going to be traveling

internationally to countries that you’re not going to

want me to travel to but I’m doing it with or without

your support. I’m doing it with or without your

okay…because even though (and you don’t realize just

how much you’ve done this) you constantly throw

hurdles in my way I’m in a department where my

professors know my name and where they want me to

succeed so I have a support network of people saying I

can do it and I can make it who are rooting me on – so

either jump on the bandwagon or jump off but I won’t

let you hang on the side.

I’m done being criticized, and I’m done being lectured

to and I’m doing being verbally abused. I’ll make it

with or without you; it’s your choice if you want to

be a part of that or not. But the only way I’ll let

you be a part of that, is if you’re going to be a

positive influence. And if you read this letter and go

“how dare he” and get even angrier than you’ve missed

the entire point but you’re an adult so I’m not going

to hold your hand through the process.

I love you, whether you know that or not.

Your Son

Matt