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30 November 2009

I quess this is Pre-AskMe butttttt. should I contact my demi-famous semi-known father? I once interview-ed him incognito, and he's said he wanted nothing to do with me until I was grown up. I just got a communication from my Mom that he's all expansive in his age, and blood tests. And I keep running into people that know him. I am confused.
mostly cause everyone I know who has met their Lost-Lost Parents has have HORRIBLE experiences, from "I never wanted you, go away" to "Seduce the uncle and steal all the money" and it NEVER seems to go right, but finding out OH WAIT HE'S MY DAD explains my eye color and build and some facile sensibilities, I'm just torn between wanting to meet the dude and torn between ruining his own life with his own wife and kids and wanting to keep my fool mouth shut.
posted by The Whelk 30 November | 20:10
he's said he wanted nothing to do with me until I was grown up

Is there some context for this? It sounds cruel.
posted by occhiblu 30 November | 20:14
I once interview-ed him incognito

Sounds like there's an interesting story there...
posted by DarkForest 30 November | 20:14
he's said he wanted nothing to do with me until I was grown up

It does sound cruel. How long ago was that? How old were you?

It's almost impossible to avoid having hope that such an interaction would be wonderful. But do be careful; it would be so easy to feel disappointed, or feel rejected all over again if it doesn't go well.
posted by Miko 30 November | 20:16
I say contact him.
posted by jonmc 30 November | 20:22
Hw said he didn't want to deal with a kid until the kid was at least 15, right then paternity as made and child support was made and he said he didn't have any money (which was true) and my Mom let it drop. I interviewed him over the phone for some teenage rag a while ago under an assumed name. Since then I've avoiding the topic.
posted by The Whelk 30 November | 20:24
he's said he wanted nothing to do with me until I was grown up

It does sound cruel. How long ago was that? How old were you?

I was probably 2 or such at the time, 15 when I got the blood tests, and now I keep running into people who Kinda know him and Did Know him, but the specter of OMG HORRIBLE IDEA DO NOT ENGAGE hangs over cause, again, everyone I know who has done this has ended badly.
posted by The Whelk 30 November | 20:27
Or. In Short

Papa was a rodeo. Mamma was a rock 'n Roll Band.
posted by The Whelk 30 November | 20:29
I once interview-ed him incognito

Internet interview, he's the kind of person you can do that with. I used my middle name and the orginal version of my mother's maiden name.
posted by The Whelk 30 November | 20:33
it would be so easy to feel disappointed, or feel rejected all over again if it doesn't go well.

Yeah, and with the other stories I have of HORRIBLE EMOTIONAL DRAMA ABOUT THIS, I just don't want to risk it.
posted by The Whelk 30 November | 20:35
He's told your mother that he wants to contact you? And you're how much older than 15 now?

In any case, you have the power if he's reaching out to you. Go with whatever decision makes you most comfortable.

Caveat: I have no relationship with my father. It was his choice at first, now it's mine. I can give more details here or in email.
posted by deborah 30 November | 21:07
He told your mother he wants to contact you? No more context than that? Just a whim on his part? No apology/explanation for the past? I wouldn't rush into this.
posted by Obscure Reference 30 November | 21:19
What do you think you want out of this encounter? Obvi, managing your expectations would be key in protecting yourself here, after all the guy is just a stranger who happens to share some of your genes.

If it were me, I'd wait until he got his ass off the sofa, picked up the phone and called me direct but I tend to be a little funny that way.
posted by jamaro 30 November | 21:48
fwiw, I think I'd wanna contact him, were I in your shoes. At least, your shoes as I know them, or have perceived them?

It sounds unusual, to be sure, but there are lots of unusual stories out there, and I guess...I dunno, my own dad's been gone a long time, and even when he was alive, I didn't really know him. So, that might be affecting my thinking here.

I'm not sure what you have to lose, so long as you don't go all Buddy-the-Elf and hope to to skating and holding hands and stuff.
posted by richat 30 November | 22:02
My husband has only seen his father once, for 15 minutes when he was 12. I asked him once if he wanted to try and find his dad, and he said, "Why? the man had no use for me when I was young, and I have no use for him now."

I'd say stay away, unless you are craving heartache. The guy's not a father, he's a sperm donor.
posted by evilcupcakes 30 November | 22:04
I say do it. But I come from immigrants and have lots of siblings AND WE ARE TRIBAL. So I'm a little bit into family and the good and bad shit it brings.

But I am also older and was just reflecting today that the new me is so much more patient and interested in people and their stories and how they got where they did. I'm so much less judgemental than I was ten years ago or so.

Oh and manage your expectations and all, but I find people often surprise me by being better than I expect. He was once an asshole that treated your mother (and you)like crap, but he may have changed in the last twenty years. I'm a lot easier to deal with than I was twenty years ago. Soberer, too.
posted by readery 30 November | 22:16
I just got a communication from my Mom that he's all expansive in his age, and blood tests.

Expansive meaning . . . what, exactly?
posted by jason's_planet 30 November | 22:32
I'll call him for you.
posted by mullacc 30 November | 23:01
I'll give you the same advice the bunnies here gave me when I asked if I should contact that coach who wanted to talk to me about God: Do it.

And turn it into a story that you can sell to the mag you work for. Maybe that'll shame him into behaving a bit more when you talk to him.
posted by TrishaLynn 30 November | 23:11
I don;t work for a magazine. anymore. For ever, if the last editor is to be believed.
posted by The Whelk 30 November | 23:59
I just got a communication from my Mom that he's all expansive in his age, and blood tests.

Less twitchy about fathering bastarders, basically., so so as they're not child-aged.
posted by The Whelk 01 December | 00:00
I'd say: adjust your expectations as low as they can go, but do it anyway.

Even if he seems healthy now, time tends to zoom past quickly. If you put it off you may not get another chance.

He does have 50% of your DNA. So he may be able to serve as a useful warning at least: you can remind yourself not to part your hair, snigger breathily, or get sarcastic like that.

Also his medical records and his family's medical history could be useful for you. (Or if you ever end up with them, your own children). If several of his relatives died young of disease X you should know that.

Emotionally, I think it could go bad in two ways.

If you have high expectations, like if you think he's going to welcome you lovingly and he's an asshole, then that could be painful. But that's the kind of thing you can prepare yourself against.

But other than that, if he really holds no significance to you, he shouldn't be able to hurt you. If a stranger on a bus insults you, you don't care that much. So if he's able to hurt you despite low expectations, then it means that he does have some significance at some level in your mind. Now if that's true, you should probably do it even though it hurts you. Because when he dies, that significance is going to mean it hurts you even more that you missed your chance.

So, even though the experience is likely to be either neutral or unpleasant, it may be worth doing anyway. Just because the unpleasantness of the alternative may well be worse.
posted by TheophileEscargot 01 December | 02:23
I'm sorry to hear about what the editor said and I'm also sorry for not paying more attention to the fact that you're out of work now.

In a way, my mom could probably empathize with you. Her father (my grandfather who died before I was born) left their family because he got a girl from another village pregnant and the other girl's brothers coerced him into "making things right." Yeah, and "making things right" included abandoning his first family, turning my grandmother (who also died before I was born) into a social pariah overnight.

A few years ago, I asked my mom about that other family, if she'd ever thought about getting in touch with them because those kids were her half-siblings. I don't remember her exact reply verbatim, but I was left with the impression that they could all go DIAF for all she cared. That sentiment is probably the most un-Christian thing my mother will ever say or do.

If there's anything I learned from life through that story it's the idea that my mother hurts deeply the same way I do, and the hurts last for a very long time. I haven't gotten to know you very well (but I want to because you're an artist! and you know Dino! and you like comics! and you seem like an awesome guy!), but I agree with TheophileEscargot in saying that you might regret it later on because you've missed your chance.

And it also won't hurt if you could turn this into a fabulous illustrated story that you can sell to someone and get some money out of it. I mean, it's the least that knowing more about the bastard could do, right?
posted by TrishaLynn 01 December | 07:18
Thanks for the kind words everyone, it's just kinda - yeah neutral or unpleasant - and my sincere desire not to fuck up another person's life with my "Hey remember about 25 years ago when you made a mistake? O HAI THERE" But that could be extreme Politeness Drive working. Right now it's all mixed into the whole nothing is selling-oh god it's dark at 4!-writer's block vortex of impotent despair.

(I only kinda half-know Dino! but oh the stories I could tell)
posted by The Whelk 01 December | 09:39
Papa was a rodeo. Mama was a rock 'n roll band

could you play guitar and rope a steer before you learned to stand?
posted by pinky.p 01 December | 10:31
I think Theophile Escargot's take on this is excellent.
posted by Miko 01 December | 10:33
I would contact him with a "he can't hurt you" mentality.
posted by jessamyn 01 December | 10:40
Hey Whelk, you can't mess up your father's life or in any way make him unhappy. Only HE can. I hope for your sake that he behaves. I'm not optimistic. It was not right that you had to make up a name to talk to him.
posted by halonine 01 December | 15:13
Just stopping by to echo Theophile Escargot et al and to wish you good luck.
If you decide to contact him, I hope to hear how it went someday.
posted by CitrusFreak12 02 December | 00:10
This is so big I don't know how I'm going to be able to lick it || Firefox, WTF?