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Natural erosions

Don't fight it



My computer has been infected by so many viruses, I finally had to quarantine it to the corner of my house, where it sits to this day, surrounded by flares so no one will go near it. It's truly evil, that computer, but I'm afraid to throw it away because it has stuff in there I need, like downloads of Grant's face superimposed on the body of a fat masturbating lady.

I don't know how to get that picture from my old computer to my new one, because I've converted to Macintosh, you know. Yes, I've got this new, sleek thing here that I can practically put in my pocket. Unlike my PC, it's not polluted inside, its cogs and inner workings aren't all crud covered, and when I turn it on, it doesn't sound like I'm trying to start up a rusty lawn mower.

My only beef is the color. It's not just white, but white white, and I'm uncomfortable around so much purity. Lary says I should take black markers and just soil the thing once and for all, but I can't bring myself to do it. I have a hard enough time just witnessing the natural erosion of things.

Take the car I bought when I was 18. It was a sleek Datsun 240Z, and I paid for it with what was left of my share of my father's modest, company-paid life insurance policy after I finished blowing half of it on cocaine for me and the gaggle of back-stabbing assholes that made up most of my friends back then. Jesus God, that car was gorgeous, as blue as the color of a prom queen's eyes, with white racing stripes. I bought the car used, with 90,000 miles on it, but to me it was as pure as Play-Dough fresh from the can. Six months later, I totaled it on the San Diego Freeway. The nice man I rear-ended gave me a ride home after they towed my wreckage away, as his huge Ford fuck-you mobile hardly sustained a scratch from the accident.

"That's right," he said, pounding his dashboard, "this here is American made. Nothin' better."

My father would have agreed with him. When he died, he had a job selling used cars at a lot across from the Los Angeles airport. Every single one of them was American made. At his office a week after the funeral, when my father's supervisor handed the checks to my sister and me, I noticed a poster taped over his desk that read, "Believe = Achieve."

"Can I interest you in a new car?" the supervisor smirked. My sister and I looked at him expressionlessly. "Bad joke," he finished, and showed us the door. Outside it was raining those big, fat, heavy raindrops that actually hurt when they hit your head. We drove two hours home in the rain, not saying much to each other, but thinking a lot nonetheless.

I was thinking of the time my father caught me in bed with a handsome heroine-addict named Scott. It was after my mother left us, then kicked Dad out because she refused to pay his rent while they were separated. She was reluctant to move back in because the lease she signed on her apartment in a singles complex was good for three more months. My older brother and sister had long moved out, so my younger sisters and I, both minors, were left to live on our own for a while, not that our parents didn't check in on us occasionally.

That's how I was busted in bed with Scott. My father broke the law by opening the unlocked sliding-glass door of his former home and letting himself inside. Scott and I were asleep in my father's former bed, but I've always been a light sleeper, and I bounded up just as my father walked into the room. Thank God I had on pajamas.

"Dad," I exclaimed, taking him by the arm and leading him back out to the living room, "what are you doing here?"

"I came to check on you," he said.

I had it in my head that maybe my father didn't get a good look at Scott, who still slept obliviously in the bedroom. Maybe, since Scott had long blond hair, maybe I could get out of this by telling my Dad it was my friend Kathy who came to spend the night, and we both just fell asleep innocently while watching TV in his bedroom. Yeah, that's it. He'll believe that.

"Of course I believe you," he said softly, and I could hardly fathom this was the same man who beat the crap out of me four years earlier just because I accidentally accepted a Roe vs. Wade pamphlet from an activist.

I was relieved to have evaded a scene, but I still remember my father's face, it was the face of a man witnessing the erosion of things all around him -- his marriage, his health, his daughter's purity -- all of life's natural erosions that you can't do a damn thing about, but tend to fight anyway. Then the day comes when you catch your kid in bed with a boy, and that is the day you give up.

"Don't leave the sliding-glass door open anymore," my father said before leaving. "It's dangerous. You can get into all kinds of trouble." At that he closed the door quietly, and left his life behind.

Hollis Gillespie's commentaries can be heard on NPR's "All Things Considered." To hear the latest, go to Moodswing at

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