Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Cup for Joe

Mitch swirled what was left of his coffee. The grounds settled to the bottom of his mug while the tan liquid raced around the sides. Outside the diner, cars shuttled back and forth on Main Street. Across the way, a couple college boys attempted to load a couch into the back of their truck, the local grocer set up his fruit displays, and in front of the theater, two young men sat on a bench together.
“Need a refill?”
“Yea, that’d be great.”
The waitress filled Mitch’s mug and said, “Whatcha looking at?”
“Oh nothing.”
“Like hell it’s nothing.” She pointed towards the window with her coffee pot. “You’ve been staring out that window all morning. You havent’ even touched the paper yet.”
“News don’t interest me no more.”
“Since when?”
Mitch turned towards the waitress. “Joe’s back in town.”
“Isn’t that something. You gonna see him?”
“Don’t know.”
“How long has it been? Five years?”
“Something like that.” Mitch took a tiny sip of his coffee as to not burn his tongue.
“Oh come on. He wants to see--”
“No!” He pounded his fist on the table, some coffee spilt over the edge of his mug. “If he chooses to live like that, I won’t have anything to do with him.”
“You know they’re now saying that it’s not a choice, hun. He was just born that way.”
“You blaming me? I taught him to play ball, fix cars, and all that...Never let him play with his sister’s dolls. Hell I never even got him a G.I. Joe.” Mitch resumed looking out the window. “Should I have gotten him a G.I. Joe?”
“Honey, no. You were a good father when he was a kid. Now, be one for him as an adult.”
He pointed out towards the theater. “There’s another one. Another man with him.”
“Go see them. Be a father again.”
“Bonnie, just get me my bill.”
“Naw, this one’s on the house.”
Mitch slid out of the booth and walked out onto the street.


John Wiswell July 21, 2011 at 11:25 PM  

What a nice lady. It's not too late to get him a GI Joe, either, though the sentiment may not carry.

Sonia Lal July 21, 2011 at 11:28 PM  

Doesn't sound like he is going to see his boy, which is sad. Also sounds like he blames himself, which is just odd.

Anonymous July 22, 2011 at 2:24 AM  

Prejudice is a nasty thing. I can never understand why parents would disown kids for being gay. You wrote the emotion really well in this.

Icy Sedgwick July 22, 2011 at 4:09 AM  

Never ceases to amaze me how people will blame themselves for something which isn't actually a choice. Wonderful sentiments from the waitress.

Chuck Allen July 22, 2011 at 9:09 AM  

I don't get the feeling that there is going to be a reunion today, but I like the way you left it slightly open ended.

Laurita July 22, 2011 at 9:38 AM  

I like how you left this one. You did a great job of creating character in this short piece. I hope he listens to the waitress.

Jen Brubacher July 22, 2011 at 10:30 AM  

I think you wrote this beautifully, presenting everyone with their ignorance without apology. That said, I loathe the ignorance in real life. Bah!

Michael A Tate July 22, 2011 at 12:41 PM  

Turns out I edited out the meaning of the title last night. The son's name is Joe. I've fixed it now.

Interestingly though, I wanted the ending to be vague but somewhat positive, but it looks like this story fell on the other side of that line. Perhaps my title snafu accounted for some of that.

John: Yea, it probably is too late, plus it wouldn't have mattered...There's always going to be a GI Joe.

Sonia: I don't think that's too odd. Many parents question again and again what they did as parents when the feel their kid has failed in some way.

forego: Thanks for the comments. I never understood why parents disowned kids period, but people can get quite scared of things they don't understand.

Icy: Thanks for your comments. But when they've been led to believe it's a choice...leads to ugly things.

Chuck: I felt like this was slightly happy at the end...but then again I must have been in an optimistic mood when I wrote it.

Laurita: Me too. And thanks for your comments!

Jen: Amen to that. Now if only I could be aware of all my various ignorances :)

Anthony Deaver July 22, 2011 at 1:25 PM  

It saddens me that in this day and age people still feel like this about other people. I've seen far too much of it in my life and tend not to tolerate it much anymore.

That said you did a great job portraying the father. He acted and sounded like several others like him I've known.

FARfetched July 22, 2011 at 1:49 PM  

I hope Bonnie carries the day. Where I live, it's "cool" to act like the dad does here. Sickening, the hate and ignorance worn with pride.

Raven Corinn Carluk July 22, 2011 at 5:06 PM  

Good job showing that not everyone is accepting. I like that you leave it open ended and not preachy.

Helen July 22, 2011 at 11:58 PM  

The father sounded like one who would say real men don't eat quiche! :) It's sad, because he thinks he's failed his son in some way, when he is failing his son now by not accepting him for the person he is, rather than his sexuality. Let's hope he crosses the street and takes that first step.

Very well written, showing the mixed up feelings of the father.

Tim VanSant Writes July 23, 2011 at 3:18 AM  

Nice little slice of life. I like ambiguous endings.

Anonymous July 23, 2011 at 9:29 PM  

Like the others, I like the open ending to this. The reader can decide whether he's going to make amends or not. I think he's too stubborn, but that's just my take. It's sad when a person can't see beyond their comfort zone and accept others, especially family, for who they are.

Stephen July 24, 2011 at 6:35 AM  

Like others have written, I like how you painted the characters. Though the ending may be open, I'm not holding out any hope for reconciliation at this point.

Well done.

W.G. Cambron July 24, 2011 at 4:51 PM  

Wow, that is like a lot of dads. If their son isn't exacly as they planned, they don't want anything to do with them.
But maybe there is a sense of jealously in Mitch. This goes a lot deeper than a small town waitress having a chat with a regular. Nicely done.

Anonymous August 1, 2011 at 7:37 PM  

There are far worse things for a child to become- and by choice, too. Whether or not a parent condones, agrees with, or encourages certain things, a parent should always love their child just the way they are. I know I do. And I'm grateful that my parents loved me too - no matter who or what I am or did or screwed up or accomplished, etc.

natz August 6, 2011 at 12:15 AM  

"You were a good father when he was a kid. Now, be one for him as an adult" pretty much captures it for me.
If only all parents could see things that way!

  © Blogger template Brooklyn by 2008

Back to TOP