26 Mar 2012

Dirty Picture

I wake up and swear. The clock on my wall tells me it's 11am. I'm in breach of the Third Rule of Living With Parents: No breakfast after 9am. I decide I may as well go downstairs and check if it's worth brushing my teeth.

Dad's in his chair, reading the paper. Strangely, the TV is on. The Fifth Rule of Living With Parents is No TV till three. "Dad", I whisper, "do we have any coffee?" From behind the paper, he says: "no, but there's wine."

I realize I'm still asleep, dreaming. I play along. "Where's Mom?" The paper is lowered. Dad looks flushed. "She's taken Grammy to your sister's," he grins. His joy is palpable, the sense of liberation almost physical. It's real. I look again, and sure enough, there's a half empty bottle of Red by his chair.

I pull up a chair and help myself to a swig. He reaches for the bottle and misses. And laughs. "Dad," I say, "are you drunk?" Dad is a notorious lightweight. He once set fire to his hair after two slices of rum cake. "Have you got anything stronger?" he says.

A few G-and-Ts later, Dad is suddenly morose. We're on the veranda, watching the gardener chat up the neighbor's maid. Nobody works when Mom's not about. Not even the neighbors. "I'm sorry, son," he says, "I screwed up." I look at him. "You shouldn't blame yourself," he says, "you screwed up because I was never there."

I'm unsure how to react. My Dad has just declared I'm a failure, and taken the blame for it. I may never have to work again! Still, I think, it's also kind of insulting. I should be mad. "It's alright," I say, "I'm fine really." "No, you're not," he says sadly. I decide Daddy knows best. "I want to make it up to you," he says, "what can I do?"

"Can you get us some ice?" I ask. "No," he says, "but I can tell you about life. See son, when a man loves a woman." He's giggling. My Dad wants to tell me about the birds and the bees, but he can't because he's having a laughing fit. "Oh, you're never going to believe this," he gives up. He looks me over, then: "probably no use anyway."

We're out of booze. Dad has brought out his records, and is belting out the lyrics to Sweet Caroline. I'm hungry. "DAD," I yell, "DO YOU WANT ANYTHING TO EAT?" He kills the song, and says, "WHAT?" Then he says, "do you want to watch a dirty picture?"

                     "Dirty Picture" (2010): official trailer

Turns out he meant the Dirty Picture, the Silk Smitha biopic that sent Indian testosterone levels sky-high in 2010/'11. Silk Smitha was the first bondafide South Indian cine-vamp. Sadly, she committed suicide in 1996 but not before accruing considerable interest in the collective wankbank of an entire generation. Reportedly, Vidya Balan, the actress who played Silk in the movie, was all kinds of sexy.

The matinee is predictably filled with male drunks and perverts. It's exactly what you'd expect in a town where the majority of women are forced to cover their heads and their faces in public. Our father-son jaunt to a porno is in keeping with the dysfunction of the place. There's a rickshaw driver getting head from a hooker two rows in front of us. His friend appears to be cheering her on. This is where terminally ill self-respect crawls in to die.

Dad wades cautiously into the fog of their frustrations, then joins in with all the enthusiasm of a voyeur-turned-participant at his first bar-fight. He hoots, jeers, attempts a wolf-whistle, and looks to me for approval. He's trying out my skin, imagining what I must have been like as a younger man. He's heard the stories, he's read the pamphlets; this is how addicts and reprobates behave.

I've been clean six years. I don't remember a lot of what happened in the years that immediately preceded that period, but I'm pretty sure they didn't involve soft porn at the cinema. Smackheads on student budgets can't afford the cinema. "Dad," I say, "Dad, the guy next to me is ... errr... cashing his cheque."

Later, back on the veranda, I watch the stars in silence. The night sky and the light breeze would lend themselves to serious contemplation if they weren't soundtracked by my Dad snoring in his easychair next to me. I desist from waking him, and swat gently at a mosquito hovering over his arm. He's had a long day.

                 "Sweet Caroline" - Neil Diamond (1969)



Nitin Verma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nitin Verma said...

Interesting post really...I don't know what to say. I have to be on your shoes just to comment on something on like this

icyhighs said...

Hey Nitin, it was a funny dad-and-son porno story in my head, but somehow when I started writing it switched on personal depressive mode.

I can completely imagine this would seem just plan awkward to a stranger.
Need to work on my professionalism if I want to hack it as a writer!

Nitin Verma said...

Not awkward but strangely funny and it takes certain level of self-confidence to write something like that.
Writer you say, you are an amazing one right now...

meandmythinkingcap said...

Hahaha. Funny, I totally forgot how Mariyln Monroe of tamil cinema looked like. Vidya Balan is noway near Silk Smitha.
I had a good laugh with the story.
Sober for six years? You need to wear a badge bud.
I have heard much more interesting dad-son stories.
One I heard recently, from my colleague
greek-american kid is 14 years old and they were discussing about higher studies in England, kid wanted to pursue his soccer passion as career. Dad took him in his car and showed billboards of doctors and especially the boobjob doctors, who get paid to feel tits.
He said "Son, if you study aboard you can have your name and a sexy model picture with DD" and he bragged about this to me. He said "best father-son talk ever, better than baseball games moments together".

So, icyhighs - nothing to feeel guilty about.

A Beer for the Shower said...

Hah! Sorry, but I do have to ask: how the hell did the rickshaw driver fit his cart inside the movie theater?

icyhighs said...

Cheers Nitin, that's very kind.

ThinkingCap - Gotta say I never really bought into the Silk Smitha thing. She actually scared me a little.

I do love your story- gives a whole new meaning to Career Guidance Counselling!

Sarge said...

Have your Dad try Tanqueray Rangpur. It is a lime infused Tanqueray. I didn't know India made wine - Or was that imported stuff? I got some blackberry wine from my Dad that can sit you on your ass - wicked kick. His friend has a four barrel winery in his basement.
I drink the local swill - Actually,
quite good. Got my sister a case of it one year for Christmas. It was gone by February 1st!
I fine Indian (bolleywood) skin (where is the flesh) lacking. Show your Dad my blog might jump start his heart in the am.

Sleep til eleven? I agree with your Dad - the breakfast line is closed. But, it looks like the bar is open - So, what the fuck.

Love your blog...


icyhighs said...

ABFTS: LOL I'm still laughing. You're kidding right?

I only said: "There's a rickshaw driver getting head from a hooker two rows in front of us."

Does that somehow imply he had his rickshaw with him? I'm not sure anymore!

Workingdan said...

That would be an awkward experience for sure! I don't think I'd have the guts to walk into a porn theater with my dad.... unless I was carrying his ashes with me, then maybe! lol

I like your style of writing! Keep up the good work!

lmao @ABFTS comment!

icyhighs said...

Haha Sarge, funny you should mention it. I was on your blog the other day having an ogle at a fantastic Afternoon Delight post -only to realize me Gran was right behind me. Didn't have her glasses on or it could have been awkward. I'd have to start by explaining the concept of the Internet! (Its why I haven't been around to comment much - my laptops being fixed, and the PC's in the hall.)

On which note, this flick's not really a porno -I'd place it with movies like The Notorious Bettie Page- vamp/model biopic with some nudity/sexual content and artistic pretensions. Gotta remember many cinemas here don't show nudity on screen, whatever the rating of the movie.So this stuff is wank-gold. Good quality Indian porn is still hard to come by (all sorts of punning possibilities there), in my experience, except for the odd leaked phone video etc.

(All of this makes us sound pretty repressed and closed off wch is actually not true - the cities are as 'modern' as any city I've lived in. It's difficult to really explain.The system/society-at-large is archaic, but ppl my age just do their own thing - if that makes sense.)

Wine (as an industry) is a fairly recent trend here I think,certainly don't remember any brands from when I was in college. Only Indian wine I've had is a mid-priced brand called Sula -they're decent. They offer an awesome resort package where you can go stay at their vineyards which I really want to check out.

Having said that, its common for Catholic families in Kerala to make their own wine from fruits and stuff, and they're pretty brilliant. I'm sure other states probably do the same.

Thanks for reading, I'll be around as soon as my laptops in shape.

icyhighs said...

Dan- About the ashes; now I'm imagining ppl walking in to watch porn, an urn tucked under their arm! LOL

Revacious said...

Nice post. Kinda vulnerable, but not cringe-inducing. Not awkward too, which is saying something, given what it is about.
"Cashing his cheque"? -.- lol

icyhighs said...

Hi Revacious, glad you liked it. Wankbank is one of my favorite terms ever, so I had to come up with something that played off it. LOL

magiceye said...

refreshingly weird!

dreamy said...

Your post was lovely. I can't tell you how very HAPPY i am to have come across your blog :)

And this is one of those classic blog posts I guess where you're starting off at a hilarious note (when your father offers you wine when you ask for coffee?!!!!) but by the end of it...i dunno..somewhere somehow you express something so simply yet it has that Gut-wrenching effect. you know what i mean?

I am sorry for the three page comment.....i dint mean to write a review of your post. Not at all. but it looks like i've ended up doing just that. :P

icyhighs said...

Magiceye - thanks for reading!

Dreamy - Why would you apologize? I love feedback (especially when it's complimentary haha).

The Angry Lurker said...

......but a good day I hope?

icyhighs said...

Hey Lurker, always odd to find out other people's perceptions of you right? Wasn't a bad day to be fair, can't complain.

goatman said...

A day in the life --- there ya go!

Al Penwasser said...

The closest I came to going to a porno with my stepdad was when he, my brother, and I stumbled around Boston's Combat Zone. As we staggered up to the curb, the Korean proprietor denied us entry. He glared at me and said, "You too dlunk."
Wow, I must have really been baked. Too hammered to get into a porno movie house.
That's okay. The three of us went to a boobie bar, instead.
Ah, memories.

Windsmoke. said...

Not only did your dad have a long day but also a fun packed one to :-).

icyhighs said...

Al man, that's pretty mental. You'd think they'd keep you out of a tittie bar for being too wasted. That I can understand. But out of a cinema - what harm can you do? The world's a strange place.

Good to see you Goatman, I'm actually considering your book of short stories idea!

Windsmoke: I hope he had fun too, we haven't hung out like ever. I hope he remembers some of it.

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious. While reading your post, I was convinced you were having a dream and will actually admit this in the end - but was totally surprised to learn it actually wasn't a dream.

Bloody Brilliant.

icy_highs said...

Cheers for reading man, good seeing you here!

Abhyudaya Shrivastava said...

Dark dark humour! Thumbs up!