D Day
January 19th, 2017

Here I sit, hours before dawn on the eve of D Day, unable to sleep and sick at heart. Why? Oh, where shall I start?

Let me start by telling you about my late father, who never aspired to public office. Instead, he worked in the trenches of public education. Specifically, he was a shop teacher, which meant he had to deal with juvenile delinquents on a daily basis. One day he came home with a shiner. One of his students had punched him. It broke my heart.

Donald Trump likes to brag about the time he gave a teacher a black eye, and I have to assume—because he brags about it—that his father wasn’t anything like mine. “If we learn nothing else in this class,” my father always said, “we shall learn to conduct ourselves like gentlemen.” Ah, but not every student learns that lesson. Some just continue punching and pushing, shoving, groping and grabbing, just as they’d been taught to behave by their fathers. Bullies beget bullies. Gentlemen beget gentlemen.

My father never bragged about how much money he made. For one thing, he never made that much. For another, it didn’t matter to him how much money he made. What matters is how you make it. Did you put in an honest day’s work? Did you do a good job? That’s what matters.

My father never bragged about his lucky genes. Fact is, no one in our little town had lucky genes. Levi jeans maybe, but no lucky genes. No, we were all mutts and terribly unsophisticated. Our only hope lay in becoming educated, which only became more difficult with the advent of television. Before television, people read books; nowadays, they mostly sit and stare. Television will teach you nothing. If you believe what you see on television, all you need to do in order to cause a whole herd of beautiful, fawning young women to magically appear is to uncap a cold beer.

Real life doesn’t work that way. In real life, beer is just a beverage—no better or worse than the person who swills it. What you’ve got to do, if you wish to make something of yourself, is buckle down and learn something. Learn to do something well, whether it be surgery or auto repair so that you can make a positive contribution to society. Turns out I am indebted to both my doctor as well as my neighborhood mechanic because both are eminently qualified for the jobs they do. The mechanic reminds me a lot of my dad. He never asks for identification whenever I write him a check. If he’s not positive the problem is us fixed, he’ll lay aside the bill, hand me the keys and tell me to drive around awhile in order to determine whether I’m completely satisfied. Would I ever not pay the man? Are you kidding? How the hell does a man who doesn’t pay his bills even sleep at night?

Oh, wait. I see that it’s now three a.m. I suppose he doesn’t.

-Richard Menzies