My dad has always been a non-fiction sort of guy. “Why would you need to read about made up shit like elves and shit when the real world is so much more interesting?”
The geekiness that my brother and I share comes from our fantasy-and-mythology-loving mom. Sometimes the old man tries to join in our fraternal sessions of nerd-babble — via awkward Big Bang Theory references or questions about the coverless comics he bought as a kid — but he’s more likely to hang back and indulge in a state of eyerolling bemusement.
There is a part of my dad, no rx however, women’s health that does embrace and indentify with romantic myths, though he’d vociferously deny if confronted. It creeps out during discussions of his childhood, military service, or relationship he had with my mother.
“Even though our side our side of the family was seen as disreputable, we were still retained as sense of honor.”
“There was something about that kind of soldiering, leaving behind a young wife to join a faraway crusade in a foreign land.”
“You mother knew I would beat the shit out of anyone who said crap about her.”
My old man, whether he is willing to admit it or not, thought — and continues to think — of himself as some kind of medieval knight on a quest to uphold his old-school notions of chivalry. His methods may be thuggish and self-interested at times, but that’s entirely keeping with the historical realities of knighthood’s emphasis on force of arms and reflected glory.
This realization made it so much easier to understand my father as a human being as opposed to some abstract authority figure. His odd mix of liberal politics and personal conservatism, his eagerness to champion hopeless causes, his use of bullying to fight bullies, holding himself to be of yet also above the masses — all these quirks flow from that sense of knightly identification.
I’m also sure it wasn’t a coincidence that my mom happened to a huge fan of Arthurian myth and legend.