“This is my house, goddamn it! I gotta defend MY house!”
When I was seven years old, my dad invited me into his bedroom to show me his Mossberg shotgun. “Here’s the trigger, here’s the loading mechanism, here’s the sight so you can see whatever the fuck you’re shooting, and here’s how you hold it,” he said, cradling the gun. “Now, don’t ever fucking touch it.”
The reason that my dad kept a shotgun on top of the cabinet above his bed was because he was convinced that we were always just about to be robbed. “We have a lot of shit in this house. People want that shit. I do not want them to get our shit. Make sense?” It did, but to my dad, anyone making noise inside our house after 1:00 A.M. was likely a burglar. I never understood where his anxiety came from, because we lived in a suburb. I once asked him about it, and he responded simply, “I came from a different time.”
“What time was that, Dad?” “I don’t fucking know, a different one. Jesus, stop asking me questions and just be thankful I give a shit.”
Despite his ever-present fear of burglars, my father likes to get comfy when he goes to bed. Meaning that he always sleeps naked. And when he’s naked, he looks like something that pops up from behind a bush in a Jim Henson film and starts singing: superhairy, with eyebrows that defy gravity.
One night shortly after he showed me his shotgun, my dad awoke to hear a rumbling in the kitchen at about 1:45 A.M. He immediately grabbed his gun from over the bed, told my mom to stay put, and walked bare-ass naked toward the noise, gun out in front, hand on the trigger. I woke up when I heard him clomp past my door, and peeped my head out of my bedroom just in time to see him get down on all fours with his shotgun and army-crawl toward the door that led to the kitchen. My dad stopped in the middle of the hallway, then aimed his shotgun at the closed door and yelled, “Come through this door, and I’ll fucking kill you!”
Inside the kitchen was my mom’s sister, Aunt Jeanne, who was staying with us, and, unaware of the 1:00 A.M. burglar rule, had decided to fix herself a late-night snack. Upon hearing his threat, she opened the door, spotted my father naked on the floor, with a shotgun pointed at her and his exposed rear reflecting the light from the kitchen. She ran past him into her room and slammed the door. My dad assumed she was just afraid of the burglar and remained agitated.
"Here’s the sight so you can see whatever the fuck you’re shooting, and here’s how you hold it,” he said, cradling the gun. “Now, don’t ever fucking touch it.”
Oblivious to what was going on outside her bedroom, my mom called 911. “Sam! The police are on the way! Put your gun down and your clothes on!” she hollered from the other side of the house. “Fuck that, I ain’t doing either! This is my house, goddamn it! I gotta defend MY house!” he yelled back. The police finally showed up, determined that there had been no foul play, and encouraged my father to put his clothes on and disarm himself.
The next morning my brothers, my parents, and I sat silently at the breakfast table. When my aunt came out of her room for the first time since she had retreated from my naked, gun-wielding father, she was not talkative, either. Just in case I hadn’t realized what had happened, my brother Dan leaned over and whispered to me, “She saw Dad’s wiener, then he tried to kill her.”
My dad turned to us and said in a serious tone, “I guess I should fill you in on what happened last night. No one broke into the house. BUT, remember, a man’s house is his house.”
He took one last bite of Grape-Nuts and chirped, “Okay, gotta go to work.”
“Give your mother the front seat. . . . I don’t give a sh*t if she said you could have it, that’s what she’s supposed to do, and you’re supposed to say, ‘No, I insist.’ You think I’m gonna drive around with my wife in the backseat and a nine-year-old in the front? You’re a crazy son of a bitch.”
“Jesus Christ, one fucking Snickers bar, and you’re running around like your asshole is on fire. Okay, outside you go. Don’t come back in until you’re ready to sleep or shit.”
On Going Away to Camp
“Relax, it’ll be fine. You’ll build fires, set up tents, sleep outside, it’ll be fun. . . . Oh, it’s basketball camp? Huh. Well, cross out that sh*t I said you were gonna do and just replace it with ‘play basketball,’ I guess.”
On Summer Vacation
“Watching TV all day is not an option. If this were Let’s Make a Deal, that would not be behind one of the doors to choose from.”
“You pitched a great game, you really did. I’m proud of you. Unfortunately, your team is sh*tty. . . . No, you can’t go getting mad at people because they’re sh*tty. Life will get mad at them, don’t worry.”
On Getting in Trouble at School
“Why would you throw a ball in someone’s face? . . . Huh. That’s a pretty good reason. Well, I can’t do much about your teacher being pissed, but me and you are good.”
This is an extract from Justin Halpern's book - 'Shit My Dad Says', which is out now. To buy the book, click the link below.
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