Dad’s older brother, Fat Mac, a rumored member of the Jewish Mafia, passes away from complications related to the flesh eating disease. We don’t attend his funeral. A few weeks later, large boxes arrive for me and Amy. In the boxes are many of our deceased dad’s possessions; books, clothes, paintings, bullfighter gear, sailing trophies… and a collection of super-8 films. I get hold of a projector, and view the films; every single one is dedicated to me playing football. The shaky camera is trained exclusively on my every move, follows me everywhere, often zooms to a close-up of me in my helmet. I am stunned. It’s a confusing, emotional gut punch. I never thought my dad was really all that interested in me, and now… I don’t really know how to handle this new revelation, so I resort to my solution to everything; just get and stay high… every waking hour of the day.
I begin to find myself avoiding social interaction, especially eye contact. I start wearing sunglasses indoors. I become convinced that everybody at school is looking at me and talking about me. Easily startled, I overreact to every sound. I become preoccupied with death. My newspaper reading becomes redirected from the sports page to the obituaries. I’m tortured by insomnia. Alarmed by all this, I stop getting wasted for brief stretches, but that only makes things worse, so I dive back in. Destination, Blotto.
I start to skip school, spending my days at a local cinema art house, where I can hide alone in the dark, always with a stash of drugs, booze, and popcorn. I lose myself in the movies, watching my favorites over and over again; Dr. Strangelove, Rosemary’s Baby, Sunset Blvd, Psycho, Repulsion, Touch of Evil. I note which actresses have the best feet - Brigit Bardot, Jane Fonda, Elizabeth Taylor. Becoming a film buff slowly morphs me from a participant in life into a spectator, and enhances the growing voyeuristic quality of my life. Watching the movie To Kill a Mockingbird, I start to sob, overcome with the longing to join Atticus, Jem and Scout in their simpler, black and white world.