Justin Alan, contributor
My father story can be quite depressing. Seeing as this is typically a humor and/or comedy oriented magazine I will get the bummers out of the way up front, and then we can all have a nice fart and be on with the article.
When I was 16 years old (I’m 25 now) my father killed himself. Throughout his adult life he had attempted and failed this deadly serious act many times. (Was that too soon to add a joke?) Now that the sadness has been aired out, we can get on to the article.
My dad was born and raised in Detroit so who could blame him for the depression. He left the midwest for the warm California girls shortly after going AWOL and subsequently being discharged from the U.S. Navy. Skip a few steps and he met my mother in the San Francisco Bay area, namely the east bay. They fell in love, all that gross business. They lived in Oakland for a bit, cranked out a baby (my brother, Erik), moved to Union City shortly after that first baby, then they cranked out the pimpin’ ass baby who grew up to write this article.
This is where things get good, or relatively good. In Union City, we lived in a mobile home park by the name of Central Park West. A mobile home park for those unfamiliar is a fancy trailer park, that is all. Most of the homes have sold the wheels out from under them and therefore are not mobile. Growing up there, we were quite poor. I remember when kids at school would show up to school with a new bike they got for Christmas, and I remember more vividly when my dad affixed three bicycle tires to a large plank of plywood (two on the sides near the rear, one on the front center) similar to a chariot. He built this and then realized that he did not sand this wood, so it might be dangerous for small children to play on. For safety he used some tin tape to tape up the edges. Funny thing about tin tape, it is as sharp as sheet metal.
He hands it over to my brother and I and says “watch the edges, don’t cut yourself.” Good plan Dad! We then inquire how this fine contraption is to be propelled, to which he answers “you can ride it down hills” …we lived in a mobile home park in Union City, not a hill in the place. So we pushed it around over speed bumps. He had a lot of imagination, with a hilarious lack of follow through. We had a hot tub for a couple summers. Let me clarify though, we had a hot tub, only the hot tub, no housing on it, no deck or wood structure, bare tubing and wiring around the sides, in a backyard that was dirt and dead rose bushes. That is how we class it up in Central Park West!
Despite the awesomely poor lifestyle we were living, the addiction problems, and consequential drug dealing problems my father faced, he pulled off being a good dad. He didn’t buy us the newest and best toys. He didn’t take us on vacations every summer. My father did something most fathers have trouble with, HE WAS THERE. He took us kite flying, he took us to soccer, he cooked with us, he played, he laughed, he joked. He totally slept for like weeks at a time when he was detoxing but come on now this is the Daddy Issue, not the Faggy Saint of Some Lame Church Issue.
Love you, Dad. Thank you for being in my life.