To understand this story, you will need to understand my parents’ house. This picture is not my parents’ house, but it is close enough to do it justice. They built a lovely, custom home in the early 1990s. My parents were always concerned about storage; they never seemed to have enough of it. Thus, when they built a colonial with a three car garage, it was actually a four-car garage because the one garage was two cars deep. My dad needed a place for his tools, the lawn mower, the snow blower, and whatever else he was tinkering with at the time. You could enter the house through a door that led from this section of the garage. The inside of the house had a long hallway that traversed the length of the two car garage. On the opposite side of the hall was a laundry room, a double closet, and a small bathroom. The hallway emptied into the kitchen and living room. They built these rooms to be interconnected and flow; it had the feel of a great room.
When I was 24, I was still living in this house with them. I was finishing my seven-year stitch of undergrad at Baldwin-Wallace College, and I was working for them part-time bartending three nights a week. It was the perfect gig: intellectual pursuit, entertaining industriousness, and free room and board.
I rarely worked on a Friday night. However, somehow, I usually ended up there. Sometimes, my friends would meet me; other times, I would go alone. It didn’t seem odd to anyone if I was there alone. I loved the Friday night live entertainment; it was a comfortable setting; I knew everyone working; and, I usually knew the majority of the crowd. It was my own personal Cheers.
On the Friday night pertaining to my story, I was flying solo. My friends wanted to go downtown; the Flats were still thriving, and on most Friday nights in March through October, bars like River’s Edge and The Basement were crowded with young, jubilant twenty-somethings looking for a good time. Personally, I never liked the Flats. I never understood going to a bar where the only people I knew were the people I was with. Maybe it is because I grew up with my parents owning “the neighborhood bar.” Whatever the reason, when my friends went Downtown, I stayed back.
I got to the bar around 9:30. I had left my parents in their usual locations: my dad sat at the kitchen table and my mom sat on the couch. As I said, the room was like a great room so even though my dad was sitting in the kitchen, he was only inches from my mother, and he had a full view of the T.V. They loved to spend evenings watching movies my mom taped off of cable, so when I left, I am sure they were in the middle of a movie.
It was a strange evening at the bar. Ricky was diversifying the types of bands that were coming to the bar, and on this particular evening, he had booked an Ozzy Osbourne cover band called Blizzard of Oz. Usually, the bands he booked were Indy rock or 80s alternative cover bands. The people who came to see these bands, the people I expected to see, were not there. The people this band attracted were what I thought of when I thought of Ozzy– big hair, acid-washed jeans, Harley leather, bandanas, and beards. It was a busy night, so the crew was unable to spend time chatting with me. I spent most of my time nursing Bud Lights, playing the Touch Screen video game on the bar, and people watching.
After two hours, I had had enough. I finished my beer and headed out the door. I was kind of excited, I had not been home on a Friday night before closing in a long time. I was going to get a good night sleep and have a productive Saturday morning.
It took less than ten minutes to get home. I pulled in the driveway, used my garage door opener to open the garage door, pulled into my spot, and turned off the engine. As I was getting out of the car, I could hear what I thought was the television blaring. “Man,” I thought to myself, “these people are really starting to go deaf. That is loud!”
As I reached the step to enter the house, I realized that it wasn’t the television. It was Johnny Mathis. My mother loved Johnny Mathis. I hit the button on the wall to shut the garage door and put my key in the door. I turned the knob and opened it.
As the door swung open and the melodic crooning of Johnny Mathis got even louder, I gazed down the hall and my parents were…well they were naked on the livingroom floor having sex.
“Holy Shit!” I screamed. I hightailed it out the door. I stood at the bottom of the two steps and thought it again and again. “Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit. What should I do? Should I leave? Should I sit down on the steps and wait? Do I get in my car and drive around the block? I desperately wished I had stayed for another beer. Why did I pick this night to come home early?”
I was about to get into my car when the door to the house swung open. My mother was standing there in a long t-shirt. She had already lit a cigarette. “Well,” she said, “You ruined that one, you might as well come in.”
I was mortified. I made an excuse about a stomachache. I walked past her without really looking her in the eyes, and I went to my room. No child, no matter how old that child is, wants to admit that her parent have had sex more times than the number of children in the family. I had witnessed what no child should ever see.
In the morning, my mom acted like nothing happened, which was fine with me, I really didn’t want to talk about it. I literally avoided my father for three days. I timed my comings and goings around his routine. By the time we did see each other, we, too, pretended like it never happened.
Six weeks later, on another Friday night, I was meeting my friends at the bar. My parents were watching a movie– my dad was sitting at the kitchen table and my mom was seated on the couch. We small talked for a split second and I said my goodbyes.
“Love you, Guys,” I said. “Be home early.”
“Yeah right,” my dad countered.
I was half way down the hall. I spun. “Dad, maybe you should count on it.”
He crimsoned and I walked out the door.