Irresponsibility: A retrospective

Looking back (ain’t that how a retrospective is supposed to begin?), I suppose I should’ve heeded more the advice of the weatherman from “Groundhog Day.” It’s the easiest advice to follow, even if it was given to a groundhog: “Don’t drive angry.”

I don’t listen very well, which is how I end up down these roads in the first place. It starts with one of those rubber-burning starts that scare the hell out of the kids on their bikes and gets you kicked out of the neighborhood association. It evens out about the time you run over the third innocent squirrel. And it ends somewhere in the countryside of your mind, where the roads get windy, but always lead back home.

I’ve gotten by over the years on sheer luck. The fact that I’ve never landed in the pokey or seriously injured is only fate having dealt to from a deck full of too many aces. I suppose there are a lot of folk out there like me. I suppose most people are like me and forget not to push their luck.

This good fortune has afforded me many good times over the years. Just skimming this blog in a fit of angry driving, I ran across this old picture, a celebration of a buddy’s fatherhood that ended in sheer silliness that is still fondly discussed today.

It’s the fun times that keep me sane. Two years ago, just a couple of weeks before Bradoween, I endured the sickest of all possible professional fuck shows. I was emotionally spent, and yet Bradoween was on the horizon. This brief entry pretty much summed it up.

There are things that I can’t write about, even in this dangerously honest forum. There are things that can threaten a person’s professional life. There are things that are so ridiculous that the mere possibility that they may be taken seriously boggles the mind.

Some fine day, I will write about these things. But for now, let this suffice:

To all friends: I thank you for your shoulder, your ear, and your support.

And bring Bradoween the fuck on.

Those who know me well are aware that I’m a big fan of creating memories. To that end, I sometimes go over the top a little bit. I get excited. It’s what I do. To wit: I was inordinately excited last year about Bradoween and found this little web trick to be the bees knees.

It was about that time last year that I was on the verge of becoming a father. I recall the story of an unnamed busy-body talking about how it was unbelievable that I was still throwing my annual party with a seven-months pregnant wife. I could only answer, “Um…she said it was okay.”

And hence, I shouted the following announcement from the rooftops.

Bradoween IV–ALERT

While my wife’s impending baby production output threatened to cancel the annual Bradoween festival, we have together done the math, calculated the chances of an early arrival, and decided that we are safe to try Bradoween IV this year.

Out of town guests in search of good airfares have started inquiring about the date. That date has now been set.

Bradoween IV (theme and details to follow) will be held at Mt. Willis on June 19th, 2004.

Last year’s event (Bradoween 3D, for those who forgot or blacked out in mid-party) was record-breaking and is still the source of many stories. We at Mt. Willis expect, especially with our official youth about to end, that Bradoween IV should be just as exciting.

Remember: Everyone is welcome at Bradoween. Except Darren Whitman. He and I didn’t get along in high school and I don’t plan on reconciling 12 years later just because I like a lot of people at my damned parties.

At the same time, I was worried about fatherhood. In the weeks before last year’s Bradoween, Scoop the Therapy Mutt got sick and I fell into unbelievable fits of worry that led me to a doggie ER in the middle of a Sunday afternoon. I wrote the following upn my return.

My wife (oddly, the voice of reason in matters pertaining to the dog’s physical health) has been reassuring me for hours that Scoop is okay. However, she insists my over-concern is a good indicator of being a good father. She watched me check on Scoop every ten minutes, hand-feed her the bland, stinky food, and pick through her droppings to make sure everything looked okay.

She said I’m going to be a good dad.

Me, I think I’m on my way to be one of those dads.

So, let the ridicule begin now. If you need me, I’ll be in the Emergency Room for the next 18 years.

That predicition turned out to be about as false as possible. Though I believe it’s not for a lack of love, I tend not to worry so much about L’il Otis. Though he’s been a sickly kid (due in large part to day care visits), I’ve not once been as worried as I was about the dog that day.

There’s a part of me that worries that it makes me a bad father. That is, if Mrs. Otis believed my worry for my dog would translate to worry for my son and it has not, then, by definition, I’m not as good a father as she hoped and expected.

Now, she will tell you that’s not the case. At least, that’s what she tells me. Trust me, I’ve asked.

So, what brought us down this road? I dunno. Not-so-latent guilt I suppose. Now that I’ve come this far, I don’t feel much like thinking about it anymore. I guess that’s why I drive. Sometimes you run across an old byway you forgot. Like this one from 2003.

I sometimes stumble after eating Chinese food. I may be allergic to MSG. My head gets a little swimmy, like when you suck the “air” out of a whipped cream cannister. It may go a long way toward explaining why I thought I heard Elizabeth Smart’s uncle say, “I’ve always believed in marigolds.”

Miracles, of course, was what he actually said.

Believing in marigolds as I do, I gave the man a hearty “good show, man” and “who took the picture of little Richard?” They are things I say when I don’t have a worthy response.

And still, yes, still, I believe in marigolds.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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