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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

Facing Father Issues

Tuesday November 10th, 2009 - Gurnee, IL

   Today was very significant on several levels. First, it would have been my father’s 72nd birthday. I’ll never forget this date as long as I live for exactly that reason, but the anger I had for whatever reasons I had it is fading quickly. Now I just feel it was all a big waste.

   I googled my father’s name today and not one single thing came up. Not anything about his death or birth or anything else in between. It was like he was never here. He never did anything for his kids because he never did anything for himself. I almost feel sorry for the guy. He had 69 years to make his mark doing anything, and he blew it. It’s embarrassing.

   Maybe the reasons for his mean spirited menacing ways were due to the lack of his own achievements, but it sure wasn’t fun to be the recipient of them. He was a bully and not at all supportive of anything I ever did. Never did we bond, even a little. Now it’s too late.

   WAY too many people have father issues, and it’s a common motivator for entertainers of all kinds. Wayne Dyer’s father abandoned his whole family and his mother had to get a job and support the kids. He tells a riveting story of how he finally found where his father was buried after years of searching, and totally forgave him. When I first heard it, I cried.

   Steve Martin has another moving story about father issues in his book “Born Standing Up” as he describes a deathbed exchange with his father that cleared the air. That was a tear jerker too, and I totally felt his pain. Unfortunately, I never got to have that deathbed chat to clean up our issues. We did meet for about an hour when I was 31, and that was it.

   I used to think he would rot in hell for how he treated his family, but now I’m not even sure if there is a hell. THIS seems like it to me, and if there’s somewhere worse I’d like to see it just out of curiosity. Brett Favre is playing for the Vikings and Dane Cook sells out arenas while I struggle to get work in the U.P. of Michigan to pay my rent. THAT’S hell.

   I don’t really have any feelings at all for my father anymore. He’s been dead to me a lot longer than his body has, so what’s the loss? Does Stevie Wonder miss his sight? How is that possible if he never had it? He got along this far without it and still made a great life.

   What are the answers to any of this? I sure don’t have any. I think my mother’s birthday is tomorrow, but I’m not sure if she’s living or dead much less when her birthday is. It’s a non issue and getting more distant. The damage is done and they’re both part of my past.

   Another significant event today was the execution of the D.C. Sniper John Muhammad. What an unthinkable horror he unleashed on so many innocent people. I remember seeing that whole scene on TV and being glued to coverage because of how frightening it was.

   Whose father issues are that nasty to go off the deep end like THAT? Even I’m not able to comprehend that kind of pain. I heard on the radio he never acknowledged anyone even as he was being strapped to the gurney. The dents in his can are beyond comprehension.

   Another significant event today took place at the Key Lime Cove Resort in Gurnee, IL. I’m a member of the Lake County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and was put in touch with some people at Key Lime Cove about possibly doing a version of a comedy class for their staff. It was completely experimental and I was scheduled to do it with Bill Gorgo.

   Bill is a high school teacher in Chicago and called to tell me two of his students were in the hospital after being shot last night and he was dealing with all that went with that ugly nightmare. They weren’t in danger of dying, but it’s still shocking to hear of such a thing.

   I told Bill not to worry about showing up, as the Key Lime Cove people had no idea of anything we had planned, other than it was about humor. If there’s one thing I can handle it’s giving a talk about comedy and humor so that’s what I did for the scheduled program. I told the lady in charge I’d have about 30-45 minutes planned and I easily covered that.

   What I’m trying to accomplish is start a more watered down version of a comedy class for a more corporate type audience. I have exercises for team building and have 15 years of teaching under my belt and I know there is something useful with spreading interest in humor to people who have high stress jobs. I also want to do a version for the public too.

   I read years ago about a guy who worked in a cancer ward that started a club for those at the hospital who wanted to laugh. He did it to get away from the constant barrage of death and chemotherapy and sadness for one hour a week and he said it was a stunning success.

   I wish I’d saved that article but it always stuck in the back of my mind. Now it’s time to breathe some life into it and develop it into a service for humankind. Times are tough and laughter is needed more now than at any time I can ever remember. This is going to work, but I still don’t know how or where. It’s significant that I did the first one tonight though.

   We had eleven people show up but then one guy got a call and had to leave. They were all very nice people and it wasn’t unpleasant, but I have no idea how I did. I tried to bring some of the lessons I teach at comedy class, but these people don’t want to be comedians. It’s going to take some tweaking and practice, but eventually I know it will be a winner.

   The reason I was so excited about Key Lime Cove is that ‘Famous Dave’ Anderson put the concept together. I have ultimate respect for that guy and the operation reflects what a sharp business mind he has. The staff is on top of it and I want to associate with winners.

   Maybe we’ll do something and maybe we won’t, but I appreciate the chance I got to try my first meeting there. Bill will add a lot to the project and I’ll keep learning and tweak it until it strikes a nerve with the right people. MILLIONS of people could use more laughs.

   My last significant event was seeing “This Is It”. What an amazing entertainer Michael Jackson truly was, and his talent broke all previous barriers. He was the ultimate dented can with severe father issues, and no matter how rich or famous he was they were always there. He sure left his mark and now it’s time for me to make mine. My father never did.

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