Confusion Corner: Disinheriting your history

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April 1, 2008

1:49 AM

My dad is a history nut. Although he currently works at a pharmaceutical company, his drug of choice is not Tylenol or Vicodin but American Civil War History. Left unattended, the man would wander Civil War battlefields for days like some meth head.

As you can imagine, Williamsburg holds limitless allure for my father. I, on the other hand, am too worried about the present to concern myself with the past.

Dad’s hobby, or addiction as I choose to call it, took the two of us to the Shirley Plantation last month. It took us over an hour to find the plantation amidst the unnamed roads of Charles City County.

The landscape was barren save a few rancher homes and tackle shops. Thin pine trees reached hesitantly for the sky, aiding an otherworldly air to the scene. I was certain that at any moment an army of mutant farmers would descend on our car and eat us, like in The Hills Have Eyes.

“Nonsense,” my dad said as we pulled off at a country store. If there is a gene for being confident and thrill-seeking, I certainly did not inherit it from my father. I am too busy worrying about the present to concern myself with the past.

Sometimes my worries are slightly irrational, like my concern about being mauled to pieces by mutant freaks. Sometimes I worry about real issues, like the economy or the amount of sugar to put in my coffee.

Unlike me, me father thrives in new situations. We had only been parked at the county store for one minute when my father emerged and walked to a nearby pine tree. He told me to roll down my window as he began urinating on the tree. He explained that the Plantation was only another ten minutes down the road as he concurrently emptied his tiny bladder. I would never have the nerve to pee in public. I would be too concerned about what people would think of me, or whether a passing mutant might attack while I had my hands full.

Public urination is something my father does best, among other embarrassing acts. By the time we arrived at the plantation, the last tour group was getting ready to leave. I went into panic mode, naturally, worrying that we would not fit in the tour group. As my stomach slowly knotted itself into a pretzel, my father let out a fart and asked, “Could you fit us into the last tour group?” It was as simple as that, and we were on the tour.

“Will you look at that?” my father asked as he pointed to a ceiling beam wider than me, “Can you imagine how much work it took to cut that?” I failed to notice the beam until he pointed to it.

“Oh,” I said, “That’s neat.” My father could have pointed to a solid gold chamber pot, and my response would have been the same.
After the tour, my father and I wandered along the James River, which borders the plantation’s southern edge. I was about to comment on a relatively high pollen level that day, when I heard a faint trickle. I turned to find my father relinquishing his fluids to the James River.

I wondered what he was thinking about. Perhaps he was contemplating all the people who had urinated there before him.

Or perhaps, like a canine, he wanted to leave his mark on this historical site. I knew he didn’t care what others thought about him, but, just the same, I kept a lookout for any marauding mutant freaks.

James Damon is a Confusion Corner columnist. He’s working on a better way to mark his territory.

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