My father and to a somewhat lesser extent, me, have a seriously inappropriate sense of humour. I mean I’m not going to mince words-my father can be both hilariously funny and a total dickhead too,often at the same time. For instance, he let me know that my childhood dog had died (I knew she was pretty ill) by replying to my text inquiring after her condition with “Hovis cannot come to the phone at the moment, on account of the fact that she is dead.”
See what I mean? Anyway, I think the combination of being raised by wolves (or you know, the man responsible for that little gem) as well as my past careers in the type of industries that tend to generate a lot of black humour have really honed my inappropriate sense of the inappropriate to the Nth degree. I also wonder if a lot of the reason why myself and my Gothy mates get on so well is because we think on the same wavelength about such things.
My family history is half Russian Jewish circus (seriously, circus-I still have third and some cousins in the Moscow State circus today) on my father’s side, and Romany traveler (mother’s side) and I think these things have helped somewhat too-my collective gene pool has fairly Seen Some Shit In It’s Time.
With this in mind, my crew and me sat down the other night to talk about the most
ridiculous/inappropriate shit ourselves and our families have come out with, and as I suspected, my da took the dubious winning crown. He is a compulsive liar too for its comedic effect, and he will tell you anything if it makes him giggle.
This means that oftentimes when I go and visit the ‘rents, I have at least one conversation with my mother that goes along the lines of “you know when I was seven and da was in the hospital and he told me it was because his ass fell out, was that true?” The answer is always “no, your father is a compulsive liar, you know this.”
Anyhow, I’m going to share a few of his little gems/biggest lies with you below-the man is an absolute legend, and not necessarily in the good way. Also I warn you, when I say inappropriate, I mean really, THE MAN CAN BE AN ASSHOLE so take that under advisement before you read on.
Story one: How to ruin your child’s reputation while they’re still tiny
During the early 80’s, I was in infants school. You may also remember the early to mid 80’s as the era when the AIDS epidemic really came to the public attention, and was still at the “we have no idea what is going on but loads of people are dying and you can catch the fuck out of this shit” stage. Anyway, my grandmother (paternal) was-not that nice of a woman? And to say that her and my father (her son) had a complicated relationship would be something of an understatement
Anyway, at one stage when I was maybe five, he decided it would be funny to tell me that “granny has AIDS” when I was too young to know what that meant, and so I told everyone in my class, including my teacher. Bear in mind that this was enough to get your parents called into the school and cause something of an overblown public health panic in our sleepy middle England village, that resulted in my ma being called in with no warning to explain that my father is a massive liar, and that my grandmother did not in fact have AIDS.
He slept on the sofa that night, if I recall…
Story two: during the war…
It amazes me how often I fall for my father’s nonsense, even as a grown-ass woman. Anyhow,Christmas before last, we were sitting round watching some Hallmark Special about evacuee kids during WW2 being sent off to the countryside. My father, apropos of nothing, piped up with “I didn’t like being an evacuee.” I paused here, because I had never realized that my father was an evacuee kid, but being as his childhood was spent in the two tactically important cities of Bristol and Birmingham respectively, it was plausible.
I asked him where he was evacuated to (Devon) if my uncle (his older brother) went with him (yes) how long he was there for, the names of his evacuee family, etc etc., all stepping rather carefully because this could of course be a sensitive topic, and I didn’t know if this was a wholesome, happy time for him, or things were about to get all Goodnight Mr. Tom in short order.
We had this whole conversation for a good half hour, me with this picture in my head of him feeding lambs on some Devon farm, bla bla bla.
About three weeks later, something started niggling at me-my now-deceased uncle’s birthday was always relatively easy to remember because he was born on VE day. You know, my father’s OLDER brother. So, if he wasn’t born until the day the war ended, my father was no motherfucking evacuee five years earlier… As soon as I called him and said “HANG ON A BLOODY MINUTE” he started sniggering like a kid, because he had actually got me AGAIN at the grand old age of 37 or so.
NOT MY FATHER.
Story three: the mental great aunt
When I was a very small child (sometime around the time of my grandmother’s “AIDS scare,” if I recall) I remember my father taking me along to what he told me was a mental institution to meet his maternal aunt, who had come over with my grandparents from Russia.
My father told me that said great aunt was in a mental institution because she “went crazy” (considering both my own and my father’s often precarious mental health, you might expect a little more sensitivity, but nope) and ran down the road stealing bananas and raw chickens from the street market they were in, before stuffing them into her underwear and running off.
Said elderly lady was perfectly pleasant and normal when I met her, and upon reflection, the “mental hospital” could easily have been a care home. Ergo, as soon as I got to the age at which I began to realize that my father was the world’s biggest bullshitter, I wrote this tale off as the horse shit it clearly was, and accepted the fact that he had lied his ass off about this poor old babushka living out her twilight years in a British old folks’ home.
I never even bothered to ask my mother about this one, as it was so clearly a lie-until about a week ago, when we caught him in yet another (totally unrelated) lie, and the topic came up.
I outlined what he had told me and said in passing that I never even bothered to ask her about this one because it was so obviously bollocks, and she said “oh no actually, that one was true!”
Said great aunt was unlucky enough to get trapped in the Siege of Leningrad-which, if you are not familiar with it, was when the Nazis hemmed in the whole city of Leningrad in a years-long siege, during which most of the populace starved to death and/or ate their neighbors.
Ergo, when she finally got to the UK after the war after living through something so truly horrific it is beyond the realms of imagination for most of us and found herself in a country where you could just fucking buy food and people weren’t hungry, she lost her shit somewhat and decided to start stockpiling-in her drawers.
The moral of these stories!? Don’t play two two truths and a lie with my da, I guess… Also, don’t be a massive liar, because karma will get you. That whole prior “grandma has AIDS” thing? Well, a few years later, my father caught hepatitis of a then-unknown strain (Hep C today) from still-unknown causes, and was treated largely like the sexually deviant leper that people with HIV/AIDS were at that time by members of the medical community and a lot of the public at large.
He also spent near-on six months in hospital in intensive care showing an attractive hue of yellow skin, and as I now know (although my mother did well at keeping it from me to a degree at the time) was not expected to live.
You’d think this might have made him a bit more speculative about pissing off karma, but just the other week he was telling my little cousin all about when he and the rest of his SAS squadron stormed the Iranian embassy in 1980, and how much he misses Andy McNab and his old crew…
Anyway, if you have a mad story (parent-related or otherwise) I would love to hear it-if you’re the person that never gets the bus because you’re the numpty magnet, that kind of thing-please share!