Chapter 3

The whole family eats at the dinner table. My parents ask about my day and I give them the lowdown on what I think about my classes. They seem happy that I’m not complaining.

My mom asks me if I made any new friends. This is her way of saying that I need some better friends, friends that will keep me out of trouble. Little does she know that the trouble that happens to me is mostly my fault. Tim and Steve’s parents are probably saying the same thing about me. My dad is probably wondering when I am going to get a nice girlfriend.

At the table, my younger brother Robby stares at me like I’m always full of crap. That little punk is always sticking his nose in my business. The rest of dinner is all about my sister Cindy’s daily happenings. She is a senior, and a bit of a drama queen. She can go on for an hour without stopping to shovel some food in her mouth. I guess she doesn’t know about my scuffle, because she would surely bring it up.

            Our family appears normal: two parents, three kids and one dog. We live in a two-story house with a two-car garage, lawn in front and a big tree that sheds an incredible amount of leaves. It is my job to rake those damn things six months out of the year. We have a pool in the backyard, but it’s an above the ground pool called a doughboy that we have had for over ten years. I still use it because it beats the hell out of sweating all summer long. 

            As far as my parents are concerned, they do the best they can with the cards they have been dealt. They are raising three kids that are probably driving them nuts. My siblings might have a different point of view when it comes to our lives. I am old and wise enough to know what is expected. I have seen plenty of other kids raised in single parent homes. Or they live with their grandparents. I can’t imagine living with my grandparents; they fall asleep at like nine o’clock. Who goes to bed at nine o’clock? Maybe those poor bastards to have to work at donut shops at 4am.

            My dad has worked as a machinist his whole life. He’s been employed at various companies, and even works on machines, like grinders and drills in the garage. I don’t think he has ever thought about doing anything else. I am not sure how my siblings feel about him, but I admire him most of the time. He is not a perfect guy and has been doing crazy things the last few years. He gets told he is having a mid-life crisis but will deny this accusation every day of the week and twice on Sunday. He has grown his hair long and barely interacts with anybody. He has become non-existent at times and takes off for long periods. My mom is trying to deal with him and has decided to accept him for what for he has become. At least I think so. My father lacks enthusiasm in his day-to-day family activities. Mom wants him to see a shrink, but there is no way he will go. Hopefully he will be happy again but it doesn’t look like it’ll be anytime soon.

            My dad’s name is Ray. I don’t know anybody with that name except him. No one names their kid Ray, or Raymond anymore, and absolutely nobody names their kid Fergus or Ferguson. Ferguson is Scottish, but my parents are not Scottish. My dad told me he liked the name because his best friend in high school was a guy named Ferguson. I found this guy in my dad’s yearbook and I thought he was odd looking. In his senior picture he had a jacked-up haircut and a goofy grin. He seemed to be smiling in all of his pictures; not normal smiling, but big toothy ones that stretched across his face. I once asked my dad about him, he told me the guy was an enigma. I didn’t know what that meant, nor did I think my dad did, so I looked it up. The dictionary states that an enigma is:

     “A person of puzzling or contradictory character.” The example said, “To me he has        

     always been an enigma, one minute completely insensitive, the next moved to

     tears.”

            So, I was named after Ferguson -an enigma. Instead of being named after Great Uncle Chuck, or getting a biblical name like Paul, I am named after a guy with a broken scissor haircut. Am I an enigma? I guess the verdict is still out on that one.

            My dad used to take interest in my life, and never pushed me into anything I didn’t like. He never forced me to keep playing soccer. My dad is more of a baseball guy. I think he liked going to my Little League games because they served chilidogs. It didn’t matter what his intent was, because it was something we did together and didn’t bitch about it. Most of the time he stood off in the distance, lit up a cigar and drank a beer. That probably wasn’t too popular with the other parents. The soccer thing would piss him off because the other parents at the game screamed at their six-year-olds to pass the ball. Talk about a bunch of dopes without lives.

            Don’t get me wrong, I am not looking for some ‘super dad’ who builds your science project or buys you a new car on your sweet sixteen birthday. Yeah, the car thing would be great, but it’s not going to happen. He is a machinist, not some high-tech big shot. I also noticed he doesn’t cuss in front of his kids. I have only seen him throw out an F-bomb once, and that was because the garage door hit him on the head. I use the fuck-word sometimes, but it’s not one of my favorite cuss words. I am more of a guy that uses words like “holy crap.”  That one cracks me up since I heard my neighbor say it. He is 86 years old. If it’s good enough for him, then it’s good enough for me.

            Then there is my mother, Judith. She works as a bookkeeper for some sort of doctor’s clinic. I am not sure if she likes it, but she sure does have a lot of stories to tell about the patients and doctors. She blabs away with everybody and shows off our family pictures. My mom will talk to anybody, anytime; about anything. She will gab and nod her head, which can go on for hours. I have seen my dad getting frustrated at times as he tries to make gestures to her to speed things up, but she ignores him. It never works; in fact, I think her ‘conversations’ are getting longer.

            I don’t know what to say about this type of behavior, but I know that being a bookkeeper at a doctor’s clinic has probably been the wrong profession. She should have been a counselor, or a salesperson, because she breaks you down until you give up. My dad has somehow fought her off the last few years. He has tuned her out and looks at her like she is off her rocker.

            The last thing I’m going to tell you about my mom is she knows that I will not be growing up to be a rocket scientist. She obviously figured out a long time ago that I am not a brainiac, and science and math is not my cup of tea. She is basing this theory on my grades. I like science and math is okay, I just haven’t figured out the trick to getting good grades. The whole incident with the hydrochloric acid was my attempt to do my own experiment at home. Damn principal thought I wanted it for mischievous purposes. The truth is I’m very misunderstood. I have been tagged as a trouble maker and delinquent; complete bullshit. My little brother called me a malcontent. The little jerk heard that somewhere and just had to use it on me. It is probably better to be a malcontent than a delinquent.  

            Robby (my little brother) is a pain in the ass. He is too smart for his own good. Because I share a room with him I have had to endure endless hours of him telling me what I should do, could do and would do. It’s endless. Think about it, I am fifteen, almost sixteen and I share a room with my thirteen year old brother who gives me advice. When I try to read, or listen to music, he is on his bed glued to video games or the computer. That’s another thing, we share a computer. This is just wrong. I have to police his activities because I know he is checking out porn which will get us both in trouble. I am ready to chuck the whole thing out the window.

            Some day we may be friends, but right now he is just a thorn in my side. As far as boys his age go, he fits right in that zone. He does what they all do and he likes what they all like. There is just one thing that separates him from all of the other boys - he recites and memorizes long passages of useless (and at time useful) knowledge. He uses this information against me in arguments. He leaves us all speechless at times with the stuff that comes out of his mouth. He is not a delinquent, at least not yet. He has a few years to develop into one, and he might get caught up in the wrong crowd. I think he may turn out to be okay and not be the odd ball in the family. I might have to carry that burden the rest of my life. 

            My older sister Cynthia likes to go by Cindy. She is a senior this year and will turn eighteen in January. She mostly does her own thing, and she still checks in on me now and then. I think she has taken it upon herself to be the leader of us since Pops isn’t really involved anymore. In some ways we use to be closer when we were young. She is everything I am not - in the academic sense. She excels in all of her classes, is into school government and the yearbook. How she can juggle all her extra-curricular activities with school baffles me. She is also involved in the drama club and various musicals. She hangs with that type of crowd. It’s hard to describe those kids because they are not part of the mean and popular group that screws up every school. I’m not sure if I can ever be in a school play because of my mortification of public speaking. If she wasn’t my sister, we wouldn’t talk.

At the dinner table she demands attention because she has more stories than my mom. Once in a while, my brother and I will get in a good smart-ass remark about her activities. She gets sensitive about our jabs and then my mom takes over the conversation and tells us to pipe down. 

            Cindy will probably be one of those kids that will go away to college and visit home twice a year. She has bigger things planned for her life than I do. I just hope she doesn’t get knocked up. She will have to move back home, and my room will be turned into a nursery. Next thing you know, I will have to sleep on the couch and my brother will sleep in the attic. Now that I think about it, I should move up there. Cindy has a good shot at getting to do a lot of cool stuff. I can see her traveling the world with her fancy boyfriends. She has enough personality to do whatever she wants. She could sell lemonade to Eskimos, as they say – or was it ice?

There you have it, the story of my existence. It’s nothing to be perplexed about.