My dad watched a lot of problematic things when I was a kid. It’s actually kind of a wonder I didn’t grow up to fit the conservative ideals that Wyoming pushes. I don’t like to admit this, but I was born in Wyoming, grew up in Rock Springs and have yet to leave the state.
When I was really little, Bugs Bunny was a staple. On Saturday mornings, I’d wear my purple nightgown and pad downstairs to crawl on his lap and watch cartoons. “What’s up, Doc?” he’d ask me and my sister as he pretended to bite into a carrot, his beard yet to have whitened and his beer belly yet to have grown.
Unlike my mother and sister, Dad and I are both left-handed. I still remember the things he taught me. Like how to ride a bike, or how to change a car tire.
When I was older and there was less reason to censor what he watched around me, Larry the Cable Guy was one of Dad’s favorites. He’d come to yell, “Get her done!”, or as Larry spells it, “Git-R-done!” Dad would also repeat “Lord, I apologize”, which is taken from one of the comedian’s albums.
This is what I have to say to Larry about those two phrases—Yeah, you probably should apologize for misogyny. I’m not going to analyze the comedian further, but suffice to say I would not recommend his material.
My dad still leaves Fox News on all the time. It’s to the point where, when I’m home from college visiting, I’ll just grab a beer from the fridge and go into the other room. For one, the beer at my parents’ place is free and for another, I just can’t handle certain things about my family when I am sober. Especially not since my sister moved away to Texas and I don’t have her as extra support against my parents’ politics.
Two and a Half Men was another one of Dad’s favorite shows, until they fired Charlie Sheen. Every night, when I was home from high school and bogged down with AP Chemistry homework, he’d put on an episode. I’m not really sure what he puts on now that I no longer live at home. What I do know, though, was that there was a comfort in him always being there and comfort in watching the same shows over and over again. I had a home, I had a steady source of food, and I had a reliable schedule. I had both of my parents with me, night after night and during these shows, we were spending time with one another. It was time where we didn’t really have to talk about anything heavy, albeit it was as we were being exposed to a sexist, heteronormative, cisnormative, white culture via the shows we watched.
Nothing is ever simple.
It’s not as simple as to say that a part of me hates my father for voting for Trump. Among the signs marchers carry these days are the ones that say, “Love trumps hate,” and that carries over across Dad’s and my politics. This is my dad, who when I was a child, watched cartoons with me on Sunday mornings and let me sit in his lap. This is my dad, who still lets me sit in his lap when I get drunk because I’m the lovey, cuddly kind of drunk who shares their feelings a bit too much.
My dad, though he doesn’t always know how to take my gay jokes, still does things like buy me “Mount Gay” rum to show me support. Beyond that, mental health has never been the best for either side of my family, and somehow he’s always just known what a simple hug can do what “Don’t be too hard on yourself” can mean. My dad taught me how to change a tire and he let me hang out in the garage with him when he worked on projects, much like how he spent time with his own father, my grandfather whose depression has, like handedness, been passed down to me.
As for my mother, who watches ghost shows after my dad goes to bed, we roll our eyes at his incessant watching of Fox. But as we know, love is love, and though I drink coffee almost as incessantly as my dad watches Fox, I suppose I shouldn’t be too bitter about who he is. I just shouldn’t think too much about for whom he voted.