My father believed in two things – which deeply informed his parenting: making money and doing whatever he pleased.
(ed:..i have only known one true ayn rand devotee..he was an american living in byron bay in australia..and he lived the philosophy he believed by picking the which of his two daughters he most preferred..and walking out on his wife/mother of those two children..and on one of those two daughters…taking his favourite with him back to america..(with no notice to either wife or daughter…)
really ‘doing what he pleased’..eh..?..living that rand dream –
– of fuck everyone else except me..)
My father was a man of numerous conflicting yet dogmatically held philosophies.
Most evenings he sat on his side of the couch – a moat of lids and wrappers between us and read Ayn Rand on ‘The Virtues of Selfishness’.
He would look up over his reading glasses – get my attention and then read aloud with an almost endearing devotion.
‘No man can have a right to impose an unchosen obligation – an unrewarded duty or an involuntary servitude on another man’ he intoned.
‘There can be no such thing as ‘the right to enslave.’
This was a philosophy he applied wholeheartedly to his parenting.
Being his offspring did not give me the right to receive from him anything that didn’t benefit or please him to give me.
One of the results of this philosophy was that my father did not cook for me – nor buy me meals – though he did allow me the bread off his plate when we went out.
In short I was hungry.
I was always hungry and the only thing he ever seemed willing to buy me was junk food.
That’s where the ketchup chips came in: He bought me two family-sized bags as we walked through the bright clanging games and gambled.
I had asked and he had provided.
He provided and I ate until my hands were stained with bright red crystals – until my belly flared.
I ate until I couldn’t see straight.
I was proving something to my father — proving I could do the Exhibition just the way he wanted and more.
When I was 6 and my parents were still together I walked between them in the living room to distract them during one of their fights.
Most of the time when they fought my mother would take me to the basement – turn on Bugs Bunny and lock the door at the top of the stairs.
This time she’d forgotten the lock.
I felt like it was an invitation to intervene – like I could make a difference.
I closed my eyes and walked like a silly soldier but I went too far – hitting the brick of our fireplace with my knee and tearing myself open.
I cried in the uninhibited way children do – fell to the floor and looked up just in time to see my father walking out the door.
‘He doesn’t like blood’ mom said.