Last night Ashley told me that she took great offense to the vicious trashing I gave her father the day before yesterday. It was never my intention to throw rocks at Ashley’s dad; reading over it again, I’m satisfied that the point of the article was to belittle George W. Bush by comparing his military combat service (zero years, zero months, zero days) with that of the spoiled little brat third in line for the British crown (ten months on the front lines in Afghanistan).
But anyone would be liable get a little pissed off if they caught just the faintest whiff of someone publicly criticizing their pop, so, for even making it sound like that’s what I was doing, I’m sorry, Ashley.
(Fuck Bob Parasiliti, by the way.)
Ashley’s dad (if you’ll bear with me while I unfold his many glories) is actually one of my favorite people. He was my history teacher in high school years before Ashley and I got together, and he was one of the best teachers I ever had. The educational experience at Clear Spring High School wasn’t of the kind that people compose poignant memoirs over. My interests have trended toward English ever since about seventh grade, but unfortunately most of the English teachers at Clear Spring didn’t do much to fire students’ passion for the material. Only Mr. Wood, my English teacher in ninth grade, actually seemed excited and interested in what we were reading and writing, but after he taught my class he promptly left Clear Spring to teach English to the children of Arabian princes in Bahrain.
With Ashley’s dad (Jim – that’d be his actual name), it was as if his love of history came through and infected the class. The guy just really, really digs history, especially American history. He served honorably in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, so he feels some personal connection to it, I’m sure, and he used that to fuel his teaching, whether it was about the American Revolution, or the Civil War, or World War II, or even the rare non-war-related lesson. If schools had people teaching English, Math, and Science with the vigor of Jim Hutson teaching History, half the problems with public education in this country would disappear.
I count it to his credit, too, that he’s such a complicated guy. He loves the Civil War, but finds Civil War re-enactors silly. He’s a lifelong, loyal conservative Republican, but he’ll tell you without reservation that Franklin Roosevelt was one of the best president’s we’ve ever had. I disagree with him emphatically on a whole list of social and political issues, from gay equality to evolutionary biology to women in combat, but he’s the smartest person I know; the few talks we’ve had over these disagreements have been some of the most fun conversations of my life.
Usually, though, we don’t talk about the disagreements – we talk baseball. Jim coached our high school baseball team for over twenty years, winning a state championship, and knows the game backward and forward, both as a fan and as a participant. Even if I didn’t love the guy for all the other reasons I’ve mentioned, he’d get points for baseball. Fuck, even George W. Bush is sort of likable when he’s talking baseball, as long as you ignore the fact that he, as an owner in the 1990s, was partly responsible for the steroid epidemic.
In conclusion, vote for Ashley’s dad.