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The Day I Became a Man

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
Posted in Joel by Joel Gross

Can you pinpoint the day you lost your childhood innocence and became a man?

I can. June 29, 1999. I was 15 years old.

The day was pretty standard for that summer- my parents fighting each other and me being a cranky teenager and getting in fights with them too.  I was stuck in that sweltering hot house all summer, but in the outside world the Seattle Mariners played their last game in the old Kingdome the day before.  The South Park movie was coming out, but I wasn’t able to see it due to the negative effects it supposedly would have on my moral growth. 186 days remained till the Year 2000 and people were panicking about the Y2K computer bug.  The tech bubble was booming and wouldn’t bust for another eight or nine months.

My parents had been breaking up and getting back together for over two years at this point and this was their final attempt at living together (they would break up permanently in another few months).  My mom was heavily into drinking and using meth.  Once when she was tripping hard, she got all four of us boys and made us hide under her bed while she patrolled around with a baseball bat hysterically screaming about drug dealers coming to get her.  Such was life in Graham.

While hitting the children was never a problem for them, my parents rarely hit each other.  Until that day in late June.

Arguing all day about everything, my parents got more and more hysterical.  My brothers and I were quite used to fighting, but in the late evening we could hear loud slamming noises and screams.  I made my brothers stay in their rooms and went to my parents room to investigate.

Inside, I found them battling.  Both were red faced and panting while screaming, slapping and clawing at one another.  My mom and dad were nearly equal in size- my mom is 5’11” and my dad is 6’1”, but I was taller already (6’2” or 6’3” I think).  I pushed them apart and grabbed my mom, dragging her out of the room and shutting the door to the master bedroom.  I yelled at both of them to shut up and told my dad to go to the bathroom in the master bedroom and my mom to go to the other side of the house.  They both obeyed for a few seconds before resuming shouting through the door which I was leaning against to hold shut.  My heart sank in my chest and what little respect I had for them drained away.  My mom had the remote phone in her hand and was screaming that she was calling the police to have my dad arrested.  Dad freaked out even more than he already was and they both started pounding & pushing on the door trying to get at one another again, but I held it shut and finally got them separated.  My brothers kept coming out crying and I had to holler at them to go back to their rooms and be quiet.  I realized adults have the same childish & uncontrolled feelings that kids do. I felt very old and the world looked bleak and unhappy.

After half an hour, police sirens rang out and the cruisers slammed into park on the gravel outside.  My mom went outside, screaming that my dad was beating her with blood running down her face.  She had gone into the other bathroom and cut herself with a razor.  After protesting his innocence, dad was led away in handcuffs and my mom laid on her bed and cried.  My dad eventually was convicted of assault/domestic violence and served something like 500 hours of community service and a week in jail.

I wish I could say I comforted my brothers, but I think I just yelled at them then went to my room to be alone.

7 thoughts on “The Day I Became a Man

  1. Funny, I was just remembering the “night” a couple weeks ago, and didn’t remember you being there. I thought you were up at Bestemor and Grandpa’s by then. It’s interesting how one event can result in so many different outcomes for the people involved.

  2. Josh has a brain as large and powerful as a jet engine. Currently, its secretly working on cures for cancer, a resolution for the coming petrol shortage, and how to provide peace in the Middle East. All while his conscious mind is working on sending out three dozen texts in the time that it took me to type this message.

  3. 3 dozen texts with words of wisdom like, “Lol ok”, ” u b nice”, and “haha”. I stole his phone once and there was nothing longer than 3 words in an entire conversation. I changed his name to “Grunt”.

  4. To quote Joe Wilson, “You lie!” The only time I use “text lingo” is for lol, and the rest of the time I follow the rules of grammar and spelling. And at least I don’t text every girl in my phone creepy, drunken, rape jokes…

  5. While he was putting you in your place, he managed to divert an asteroid from certain planetary destruction. Kudos Joshua. Kudos.

  6. Josh is a man of infinite wisdom and he’s only 16. But he can mature no further, since he has already reached infinite status.

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