The Apple Tree (part III)

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Scene 3: A Man’s Home is His Castle

D: I don’t know what happened. How did I come to this? Ya know? When you’re a kid, you think about what you’ll be when you grow up. You’re just kind of programmed by your environment to anticipate that future, ya know? – and when you’re so young, and just don’t know any better – you’re just so positive about it. So incredibly positive. I’ll be a firefighter. I’ll fly the big helicopter with the bucket and I’ll put out the fire and I’ll be the hero. I’ll rush into the burning building with my helmet and axe and save the little girl from the burning rafters. I’ll be a soldier. I’ll do great things for my country. I’ll drive the tank, and protect my family by defeating the enemies of America. I’ll be a farmer. I’ll cultivate the ground. I’ll make things grow, ya know? I’ll nurture the little plants, and I’ll watch them grow because of me.

I guess in each scenario, the kid always pictures himself doing something good. Being the hero. The infallible noble guy that would lay down everything for the right cause, and reap the benefits of doing the right thing. Ya know? The little house on the hill. The little wife. The little girl. The car. The security of being appreciated for what you’ve done. That feeling that it all was worth it.

You know what they don’t tell you? That it isn’t real. That whole ridiculous picture they force feed into your skull from the first stupid day you can start to think for yourself – it’s all fake. It’s not like a math equation – you do right, and you get rewarded. Like when you take out the trash, and your dad gives you a nickel. It’s not like that. You become an adult, and you take the trash out every stinking day, and you don’t get jack for it. Turns out being the hero sucks. You know why? Because there aren’t any heroes. We’re all just doing whatever it takes to keep goin – ya know? Just to keep kickin the tires long enough until you kick the stupid bucket. And then it’s curtains. It’s stinkin’ lights out. The stage goes dark, and the worst part about it all? There’s no standing ovation. There’s no stupid encore’. It’s all just over, and you never get to know if it was worth it.

So what do I do? I do my best. I punch that clock, and then I come home and do my best not to punch my wife. It’s not her fault – but she just doesn’t get it ya know? I’m doin’ my best, and if I could do better, God I would. She just wants things, expects things, and she wants me to talk about them. It’s not a lot in the grander scheme of things. Mostly she just wants me to give a crap. And dear God, I try, but I don’t think she realizes the pressure I’m constantly under. For once it would be nice to hear, “I know you’re doing your best, babe. And I love you and support you no matter what. I don’t need a house. The car doesn’t need air conditioning. Alice doesn’t need piano lessons.” – Alice….

Now, you see…. Alice…. If there’s one part of my life I regret – One thing I wish I could do better – Alice. . . I guess I sort of get it, ya know. You want your kid to have a chance. All those things you wanted for yourself you want for her too. It just kills me that I can’t give them to her. I mean, she didn’t ask for me. She didn’t ask to be my kid. I mean what kid, if they could choose, would choose a drunken failure to be their paternal model for life? She deserves so much more, and I know there is nothing I can do.

So, you see, it’s true. A man’s home is his castle, ya know? But my castle? The moat is dried up, and the walls have breaches so big, you could drive a massive tank through them.



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