Monday, January 9, 2012

No. 878 – Intolerance

Performer: Tool
Songwriters: Maynard James Keenan, Adam Jones, Paul D’Amour, Danny Carey
Original Release: Undertow
Year: 1993
Definitive Version: None

Up to now, most of the posts have been of a more inconsequential nature. Today’s isn’t one of those.

When Debbie and I decided that we had more going than mere friendship in August 1994, it was inevitable that we’d have to break the news to my family, and we weren’t sure how it would go over particularly with my Dad, given Debbie’s long-time working relationship; and my step-mother, Laura, given her even older friendship. Debbie was optimistic; I was apprehensive.

Well, Jin didn’t care when I told her. She really didn’t know Debbie anyway, so it was no big deal. Scott reacted differently: He didn’t like it; he felt uncomfortable given the circumstances and would need time to process it. Fair enough. I wasn’t seeking immediate approval, just making public information that would be revealed soon enough. We’re just starting out anyway, but we seem to have a good thing going—much to both of our surprise.

Debbie said she would tell Laura, and I would tell Dad. They were away for the summer at Torch Lake, and Debbie sent Laura a letter.

I, however, decided that this was important enough news that it should be delivered in person. I guess Debbie wanted me to be standing on their doorstep the instant they arrived back home, because she hounded me constantly after they came back: Have you told him yet? In fairness, she had to see Dad every day and didn’t want to have our secret hanging over the office, but I felt the timing had to be right.

So one day in early September, I invited him to lunch. We went to Plank’s in German Village, which was notable at the time—at least by me—for its massive beer-can collection that hung from the brick walls. Anyway, I told him, and he reacted about as well as could be expected: He didn’t like it, period.

But he didn’t seem angry or overly upset. He said he’d need time with it, and I said I wasn’t expecting—or even desiring—anything more. Heck, it could all be over in another month anyway, so it’s no big deal. When I called Debbie to alert her to what I had done, she didn’t believe me. Why? She said my Dad was in a great mood when he came back from lunch. Maybe everything was going to be OK after all.

Everything wasn’t OK.

I don’t know what Debbie said in her letter to Laura, but it obviously didn’t spell out precisely what I had to my Dad. The next day, Dad called Debbie into his office and read her the riot act. I won’t bore you with the details of what was said, but he and Laura most definitely did not approve of our relationship. To this day, I’m shocked that he didn’t fire her on the spot, but I suppose he thought she might be able to sue successfully; I don’t know. And Debbie couldn’t quit, because she didn’t have enough money to support herself. But it was clear that she would have to start looking for a job elsewhere—as soon as possible.

At that point, I suppose I could have bailed. In fact, Debbie later would say she expected me to bail and that she wouldn’t have blamed me if I had. Well, I have my mother’s stubbornness in me, and I also felt as though I was being treated unfairly—that I had blindly rushed into this without any thought in the world or a care about anyone else’s feelings, when, in truth, it was all I had thought about while it was developing. But I decided that the potential long-term positives outweighed any of the short-term negatives.

So, there really was only one option here as far as I was concerned: I threw in with Debbie. I hadn’t had the best of relationships with my Dad anyway, and I wasn’t going to quit on her. So, I went over to her place that evening unannounced bearing flowers. She let me in, beside herself about what my Dad had said and that I still wanted to be with her. I spent the night.

Intolerance and other similarly loud, abrasive songs found their way onto my stereo and Walkman in short order: the angrier, the better. I became a heavy metal fan. The Great Rift had formed.

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