Dad, his chainsaw, and his wife…

ice carving dad
ice carving dad

His third wife pours ketchup on the floor and knocks over the furniture. She leaves the kitchen door ajar, and when dad pulls in from working his second job, she sprawls on the hallway floor. It is after 10 pm. Dad comes into through the door jangling his keys like he always does to let you know he’s home. He steps around the fallen chair and heads to the hall. He stands there in his chef uniform. He has been at work since 7 am. “A—,” he says, looking down at her and her askew and red-stained clothes. “Hey, A—. You awake?”

She doesn’t move. A knife is next to her body. Dad nudges her sides with his foot. “A—? You awake? I’m home.”

She calls me later to complain about how difficult he is. “It’s like he didn’t even notice the ketchup!”

My dad taught me how to look calm and impassive no matter someone says. “That art is second-rate” or “I couldn’t read past the first chapter of your book” gets no more than a nod from me. How do you react to criticism said directly to your face?

6 thoughts on “Dad, his chainsaw, and his wife…

  1. First of all, I LOVE the title of this post. I was hooked. This story is so random and it does such a good job of illustrating his personality as well as that of his wife. Did she do things like that often? It’s disturbing and hilarious at exactly the same time – I love it. It makes me want to read more and more and more. Nice storytelling M.

    I think my reaction to criticism is dependent upon my mood and the person giving it. Sometimes I am open, eager to hear and learn and from the right person that can be a fabulous experience but if I am feeling my own self-doubt and I get it from someone in a negative way it can be bad. It totally varies for me.

  2. When you finally get around to writing your memoirs, you must have a chapter titled, “He Didn’t Even Notice the Ketchup!” Depending on the circumstances — like in the questions Natasha asked — it may or may not be inappropriate that I cracked a grin when I read that line.

    I’m no longer in a circle in which I get direct critiques of my work. But I remember going stone-faced when particularly unfair ones (as I imagined them to be) entered the conversation. I could feel my face reddening (no great matter, I’ve been told throughout my life that I blush easily), and I remember my thoughts racing — sometimes defensively, sometimes in a panic (Omigod did I really overlook that?!?). But I’d be determined otherwise to do nothing more than nod, and hope that the critic didn’t notice my grim tight lips and clenched jaw. Guess this is fairly close, at least outwardly, to what your Dad was recommending. Only not as convincing.

  3. Well, I have faced that, and I usually say thank you while crumbling inside. But with perspective, I can usually see what they’re saying is right. But I hate it!

  4. I think I’m pretty good with direct criticism, asking questions to understand more fully what the problem is, standing my ground when I feel I’ve done my job.

    But that’s the immediate reaction.

    AFter they critique, I go home and think about everything that’s wrong and then about how I don’t know if I’m good enough, after all.

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