Today would be my idiot ex-stepfather’s Maurice Eugene Washington’s sixty-sixth birthday. Maurice died almost four years ago, after a twenty-year losing battle with Type-2 diabetes, kidney failure, hypertension, heart disease, limbs lost, and a host of other ailments included. That, after years of abusing his body with food, much more often than he laid a fist or kick on me or my Mom.
Most of the time these days, I feel far more pity for Maurice than anger. Forgiveness does come with the benefit of some empathy. If only because I know that Maurice had less maturity and more confusion in his heart than a sociopathic misogynist in the middle of puberty. Which, in point of fact, would pretty much describe my ex-stepfather from the time his was fifteen until his death in 2012.
So in the spirit of macabre humor, below are some of Maurice’s favorite stock phrases from my being forced to grow up around him between ’81 and ’89. Most of these made it to Boy @ The Window:
“You and your brother [Darren] are gonna be my brown-skinned servants.”
“Take that base outta ya voice, boy, before I cave yo’ chest in!”
Maurice would sometimes sing his threats, bellowing
‘I’m gonna beat yo’ ass, jus’ like a car burns gas,’ adding, ‘And ya KNOW that!’ at the end
It was something he pulled from the disco group known as the The Jammers.
Whenever I reminded him that he wasn’t my father or whenever I told him that I’d never call him “Dad” again, Maurice would yell
Don’t you EVER say that again, muthafucka! I’ll kill you next time!
Sometimes, he’d threatened to kick me out of 616.
That boy’s defiant. I won’t tolerant it in my house!
Once I passed fourteen, I knew this was an idle threat. Boy, he loved calling me “boy” or “it” when I stood my ground. Maurice had colorism issues long before I ever knew what colorism was.
Or, Maurice would get all Hebrew-Israelite on me and quote from Exodus 20.
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Even in the midst of busted lips, bruised ribs, and knots on my forehead, I found that last one absolutely preposterous. We owned nothing. This irrational abusive asshole wasn’t my father, and had beaten up my Mom in front of me. Only a god in cahoots with the devil him or herself — or my idiot ex-stepfather — would think that Exodus 20 applied to my situation with this shell of a human being. Mind you, the fool kept quoting this verse to me as late as the week before he broke up with my Mom in ’89!
There is some humor to glean from these, as much as you can find alcohol content in a fresh slice of bacon. I just hope I never say things even in the same galaxy of stupid, demeaning, or threatening to my own son as this idiot said to me growing up.
Sometimes, though, when my son asks, I tell him what it would be like to have an abusive father in the form of Maurice. Sometimes I’ve even imitated how the fool would’ve sounded, and my son will then start to laugh. Luckily, he sees my stories as stories, not the hellish nightmare that my life had once been.