My friends dad would always accuse me of being a bad influence on his son.
Sometimes he wouldn’t even let me in their house. Sometimes he would limit my exposure to his son to just a few minutes on the phone, or on the front doorstep. He wasn’t shy about his distain for me.
I can see how he got there; I fit the description.
I was a bit of a motorhead at that time in my life. Lots of dirty, grease-covered jeans and t-shirts. My parents were in the middle of a pretty-public, pretty-messy divorce that included regular visits to our house by the police. I wasn’t doing great in school and my future plans were not well formed…and we were poor.
He, on the otherhand, was a model father.
Very involved in his children’s lives. A pillar in his work and respected in the building community. White stone house, with a long, winding driveway, on more than an acre of ground. New wood-panelled-side station wagons in the white stone detatched garage every couple years. Very involved at the church. A man who valued work ethic, god, and discipline and who did his best to instill those values in his kids. Their lives were orchestrated and planned fully for them by their loving parents…and they had money.
Little did he know, but I was actually one of the better influences on his son at that point in time.
His son was doing the “right things” that his father had planned for him outwardly, but secretly, he was waging a one person assault on the town:
His son was stealing booze and binge drinking…I didn’t drink.
His son was having sex with any girl who could consent…I was still a virgin.
His son was dealing a good bit of the drugs in town…I didn’t do drugs.
His son was casing and robbing houses and business for fun and profit…I didn’t even jaywalk.
I remember how I felt when his dad would accuse me of being the “bad influence”.
Here I was, being the only guy in my friends life who was keeping him from going completely off the rails, and yet I’m the one catching the blame:
I remember wanting to tell his father how wrong he was.
I remember wanting to scream in his face the truth.
I remember wanting to go be “bad” at that point: because if you are going to be blamed anyway…you might as well be getting the benefits.
I wrote this today, after reading social media, and seeing women blame men for their problems, and black people blame white people, and gay people blame CIS people.
And I’m left wondering:
I wonder if maybe all these people could benefit from the lesson my friends father learned when his son was eventually caught and arrested by the cops?
I wonder if maybe they too should be looking “in house” for the problem, instead of blaming everyone else outside the house?
I wonder if my friends dad could have done a lot more to save his son, had he looked in house?
I wonder if that holds true in most other situations?