However, now as they watch their three boys tackle the “real world”, they get a tad nervous.
My two younger siblings, however, both have business degrees. With tons of practicality and left-brain thinking on their side, these two future six-figure contenders are not my folk’s primary worry. My mom and pop, regardless of how nervous they are about my siblings’ rocky beginnings, know that their boys will be able to climb to the pinnacle of their professional mountains with no problem.
Shift the focus to me, however, watch as my parents’ look of pride fade into confusion.
It isn’t because they don’t have faith in me. When it comes to faith, their support is as strong as a shepherd hacking up their first-born son to an invisible deity. They know I’m smart. What they don’t know exactly is what the hell I’m doing.
My profession is theatre, specifically playwriting, even more specifically, being a struggling playwright. Since my mom and pop have had no real experiences with art, the idea that I’m doing art translates into me doing nothing. When I say I’m a professional playwright, what they hear is only the word “play”, nothing else.
“Son, how is work in
“It’s good, Dad. We’re in our last week of rehearsals for my newest play and it’s looking pretty good.”
“No. I no ask about how you play. I ask about work.”
“I know, dad. I write plays. I’m not actually playing.”
“I ask about work.”
“This is work.”
“You said you play.”
"No, Dad, I said I write plays.”
“See, you play!”
“I. Write. Plays.”
“Right! You play!”
“Are you even listening to me?”
“I ask about work.”
“Who’s on first?”
“Don’t make fun of your father!”
“Work is good, Dad. I’m making money.”
“That’s all I want to know. Thank you.”
Obviously, there’s a bit of a communication gap over the AT&T long-distance lines.
What’s great about them, though, is the fact that they supported me through all my theatrical education with zero debate. Unlike alotta folks, they didn’t freak when I said I was going to be a theatre major in college. I’ll admit that their support was kind of incidental to the fact that they didn’t know what the hell theatre even was, but regardless, ignorance bred happiness when I brought home report-cards filled with A’s instead of my high school C’s.
“Son, it look like you did very good in . . . Commedia dell’arte? Uh, what is that?”
“It’s a theatre class, Dad.”
“What was your question again?”
“Don’t make fun of your Father!”
“It’s . . . an Italian math class, Dad.”
“Ahhh . . . VERY GOOD!”
Okay, so I’ll admit I wasn’t much help in fostering their understanding of my profession either. However, in the last couple of years, my parents have picked up a few facts here and there.
“Honey, did you know there is a
“No, Mom, I didn’t.”
“If you move there, you can work on that street. Then you be on Broadway! Isn’t that what theatre people want to do?”
“Not the same thing, Mom.”
Now, it’s really cute that my folks have tried to find a way to understand my passions. Sadly, though, their facts are a bit skewed. Instead of going to books or even the internet for their facts, they decided to get their insights from a much more reliable source – the redneck regulars at their diner*. To say the least, theirs view on Artistic folks now have become a tad . . . general (Or thoroughly fucked up. Whatever.).
“Honey, I talk to Clarene at Restaurant about theatre yesterday.”
“Really, Mom. That’s cool.”
“She say theatre people are all gay.”
“Um. Okay. Well, Mom, some theatre people are . . .”
“I just want you to know that your father and I love you very much. We accept you.”
“We accept you.”
“Mom, I’m not gay.”
“We understand that you are an individual and you make your own decisions.”
“Mom, I’m straight.”
“It okay. You can tell me.”
“I like women.”
“No need to hide.”
“Mom, I’ve been in a ton of relationships. Remember Anna? We dated for three years. And this girl Abby I just met -”
“But why you not married?”
“Because I’m not ready.”
“No, it because you not like girl!”
“I’m not Gay!”
“Mom - ”
“I love you, my gay son.”
Click . . .
As I said, my folks are very supportive. They are crazy as all fuck and apparently slightly deaf, but they’re supportive.
My father, at least, realizes that I don’t worship the cock. He’s a bit more old-fashioned than my Mom, though. I’m not saying he’s a raging bigot. He just likes to give advice.
“Son, I know you have lots of gay friends.”
“Yes, Dad, that’s true.”
“But you not gay.”
“Not even the teeniest bit.”
“But if you are gay, we still love you.”
“I know and that really means a lot to me.”
“You know, though . . . gay people really like to drink.”
“If you drink, you should not get too drunk with gay friend. Maybe you get confused and go home with gay friend.”
“Get confused, dad? What are you saying exactly?”
“You not see very good. Your eye all blurry. You think your friend is girl because they smell like Gucci perfume and then . . . oops, you sleeping with man. Then you Gay!”
“Dad, you drink a lot. Have you ever slept with any of your male friends?”
“No! But I not in theatre.”
As I said before, my folks don’t get what I do. But maybe I’m asking too much. Looking past all the mess and past miscommunications, though, I realize that alotta other parents – especially Asian parents - would have freaked that their kid was dedicating their life to something not practical. Not my folks, though. Regardless of understanding my job, the type of work I do, or even the lifestyles surrounding the aura of my artistic community, they have blindly thrown all their love and support towards my success, even though they don’t know what success in my field actually even means. Then again, I don’t even know what that exactly means. But as I get older, I do know it has something to do with what my parent’s already have. Faith, love, and little bit of nuttiness.
* Though, I do refer to my folk’s regulars as Rednecks, these guys are some of the most open-minded soft hearted people I’ve ever known. Though they’re simple, they aren’t crazy racists. I just call them rednecks because they love Reba and eat pickled pig’s feet. In my opinion, that’s just enough country to earn them the Redneck title.