There’s a nearly unbearable pain that rises deep within my gut. I distinctly recall the first time I experienced it. My wife was six months pregnant with our son and we’d just discovered there was an expensive repair to be done to our only car – several hundred dollars, if I remember correctly. A sudden certainty of financial ruin flashed before me. The car repair would take nearly all our savings, leaving me to welcome my first born with no safety net to speak of. There would be diapers, clothing, medical bills – oh Lord, the medical bills! – and unknown miscellaneous expenses that come with a child needing to be addressed.
That was the first time the pain came, but it was far from the last.
It comes regularly twice a year now. Once in the summer for a few weeks culminating on July seventeenth, but most prominently it comes this time of year, an ignominious infection that flares from November to December, leaving me to ring in the new year with disgust, disappointment, and self-loathing.
My wife insists that what I provide is enough. Make no mistake, I am not destitute, nor am I delusional enough to fail to realize that I am privileged to have a good job that affords an income well above average. She points out that what I provide our son is well beyond what either of us had as children.
But it is never enough.
It is clear to me that you have no idea what I’m talking about and I’ll tell you why. You were sitting at this bar alone when I entered, already wreaking of scotch. I was here not two minutes when you insisted on striking up a conversation with me and had the sheer idiocy to ask a grown man why he looked so downtrodden and crushed by life but a week before Christmas. Only a man with no children would ask that. My insides are ruin, sir. I have nothing but shame and disgrace within me because no matter how high I pile the gifts under the tree it is never enough. It can never show my son how much he means to me. The happiness of a child is fleeting, and no matter how hard I fan the flames I know that eventually the fuel will be expended and he will supplant me in this world of pain and injustice. But for two times each year I want to give him a clear moment of pure childhood ecstasy, something that he can hopefully hold onto for the rest of his life, because if I succeed, then he will have had the childhood that I was always denied.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our little chat. Now leave me the fuck alone and go back to the other end of the bar.