Walking Through the Five Stages of Grief with Ghostface Killah

This weekend, my father and I had a falling-out.

The specifics of the exchange will not advance the narrative in any meaningful way. You just need to know that he felt one way about something and I felt another way about that same thing, and we let each other know that neither agreed with the other. (Those are the basics behind every argument, as I'm given to understand it.)

Now, in a threatening situation, my immediate thought, the thing my brain just shouts over and over again, is "PUNCH, MOTHERFUCKER, PUNCH!" It's why I've been kicked out of the last three basketball leagues I played in (fighting, fighting and threatening to fight, in that order) and it's how I ended up assaulting that plastic ficus tree that one time. I guess maybe I should be regretful that it's that way, but I'm not. Whatever. Sorry.

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In an argument, though, or really in any situation where I know that a disagreement will not lead to anything more than a jumble of words, my brain goes the opposite direction. My whole thought process becomes hyperanalytical. All of the sentences walk out of my mouth with dual purpose (champion my viewpoint, dismantle the opposition's).

No words are wasted. It's a monotone assault. It sounds how it sounds when a psychologist on TV is talking to a patient. ("Your behavior is disrespectful and hurtful," shit like that.) I'm told it is as effective as it is infuriating. Mostly, I don't lose in those situations. And that's where this interraction with my father immediately got placed.

Here was the problem, though: He was drunk. Big time.

The setting and the scenario: We were at my sister's place. He'd been drinking for most of the day. He asked me to drive him home. (I was not surprised. We've had that same conversation for the past 15 years.) I said sure.

When he got in the car, he attempted to open another beer. (Fifteen years of that, too.) I refused to start the car until he put the can down. After several minutes of posturing, he did. But about three minutes into me driving, he reached down and grabbed it. I told him that if he opened it I'd stop the car. He said, "You lie, you lie."

Then he opened it. Then I stopped the car. And then he lost his shit.

So we argued at each other in a truck on the side of a road in south San Antonio from approximately 11:20 p.m. to 11:40 p.m. Reason bounced off of him like he was the goddamn Hulk. He talked in impenetrable circles. Were I not actively involved, I'd have found his illogic magnanimous.

Since I was, though, I mostly just wanted to karate-kick him in his Adam's apple. I took my phone out and thumbed through it looking for nothing in particular, waiting him out. Eventually, he relented ("Hulk tired and hungry, take Hulk home"). We drove him home in silence.

I tried watching old basketball highlights on YouTube to feel better. No go. Neither did cookies (Fuck you, Oreos), neither did Bridesmaids (Fuck you, Kristen Wiig). So, I wandered around my iTunes library, working through the five stages of grief with Ghostface Killah and a few others. The Internet has turned us all into pussies.

The songs:


Wu-Tang Clan, "I Can't Go to Sleep": I couldn't sleep, so duh. It'd have been cool if Ghostface Killah had said "Havoc on the streets of San Antonio" instead of Staten, but whatevs. Close enough. Such a great song.


DMX, "Fuckin' Wit D": When you're upset, when you want to just stomp the Earth into pieces, few make for as proper company as Dark Man X. His fury is perfect. It's unfortunate that what made his music so indispensable is also what derailed his career. I guess that's just the way it had to be, though.


Clipse, "Popular Demand": I don't know why this one goes here, only that it does. That's just the way it is sometimes.


Trae, "Swang": Trae might be the poster boy for depression. Also, there's just never a bad reason to listen to this song. If I owned a sports franchise (The Oakland Sheas, perhaps?) I'd precede all games with this rather than the national anthem. Fuck yo' stars and stripes, George Washington.


Tupac, "Changes": I mean, this was predictable, sure. But you don't have to be clever all the time.

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