ne time my father began beating my mother in front of recent acquaintances,

after coming back drunk from dinner, because she kept contradicting his stories.  It was an awful scene, and yet I sat through it calmly, bemused by the horror on the other adult faces.  Then my shame was complete.  I hated my mother for being a bitch, for being so stupid.  I hated my father for failing to control his wife or himself.  But most of all I loathed myself for being their child, for being bound to them.  


y self-punishment became a strangely sick quest for nothingness. 

Go Be Zero.  In those days of learning to feel nothing, self-hatred wasn’t a negative emotion, just another tenet in my crazy religion of survival.  I hated myself, but since I’d stopped feeling hate, committing suicide faded away as a real option.  Instead I studied my lessons, wrote my term papers, baked pizzas, washed my own laundry at the laundromat (didn’t consider my mother fit to touch my smelly socks), and threw away my disposable ego.  It got me through each day.


lasses for seniors wound down in May, the only major project to complete being graduation.

First we practiced outdoors on the football field, then in the gym in case of rain, each of us carrying our beige folding chair wherever we went.  And finally, Graduation Day, hearts of young cheerleaders a-throbbing.  I stood in a classroom with a black robe draped around me, dragging on the floor, three dollars (a whole week’s allowance back then) to rent for a two-hour ceremony.  There were numerous forgettable, forgotten speeches, then the graduates ran yahooing back to the building to turn in their robes and screech their tires in the parking lot.  “Laying a patch” it used to be called.  What Sweet Revenge it must have seemed against that Nasty Old School!  I could scarcely care.


om and dad had been drinking all day,

they couldn’t handle the excitement of their only child’s graduation.  In front of parents and teachers, in front of a dozen girls I’d fantasized fucking, I had to ask a couple guys help me carry my father to our car, he was too drunk to even stagger.  It was like a conspiracy of humiliation - let’s see just how much can be heaped on this chicken-shit before he blows his brains out.  I can’t recollect what I did the rest of the day after driving them home, probably just read in my room (when you haven’t got the guts to walk out the door, just step into a novel and you’re gone).


About the Author


Michael Langthorne

Michael is an Adult Child of Alcoholics in the continuous process of cleansing and healing (there is no recovery). His first novel, Navigating Infinity, is the loosely autobiographical story of Wilbur Topsail, "child of alcoholics growing into an adult, trying to find his place in the world and trying to be accepted for who he is." Kirkus Reviews said of the book, "…an effective, dark look at growing up with alcoholic parents."

Michael's interests include travel, music, photography, art, history of photography and cinema, history of vaudeville, and of course writing.