A Special Level in Dante’s Inferno

Dante Alighieri wrote the famous epic poem, Divine Comedy, detailing a journey through Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. The narrator observes nine circles within Hell: Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery.

Sidebar: I am glad that the word epic is finally dying out from common usage. It was bandied about too readily and usually used incorrectly. Unfortunately, it’s now been surpassed by “literally”. North Americans, your grammar and vocabulary is pathetic. I’m not a grammar Nazi. I just use it correctly. Most of the time.

Anyway.

Parents. More specific to this complaint, dad. Why? Why must you be so goddamn obtuse and frustrating? I mean in a tear-out-my-hair-grit-my-teeth-scream-incoherently kind of way. It’s torment, that you won’t listen to me. It’s so bad you could ring Dante and ask if he’d mind adding a tenth level to his Inferno.

1. Jump-starting the Corolla

I have a 1995 Toyota Corolla that is very inefficient, but did the job in my first degree. When the 29 year old was packing up to go live with her husband in Canada, she transferred the Prius to me. It is about twice as fuel efficient as the Toyota Corolla. When faced with the two options, I’ve chosen the more fuel efficient one. However, the battery went flat in the Corolla. Dad emailed a friend and got booster cables to jump start the car. It was pretty easy to get it going again, but why was it frustrating?

  • On way back from the run this morning, Dad tells me to relax, he’s had old cars before when he was younger and is quite familiar with jump-starting cars. I remind him to read the Prius guidebook. I googled the process myself, took a shower and went downstairs where a suspicious silence prevailed. I walked outside, and dad’s popped out most of the gear from the back of the Prius where the battery is, and has managed to damage the cap over the Prius battery. To be fair, it’s tricky, but don’t force it and nearly break the plastic! Fuck.
  • I get the plastic cap off, and we’re pushing the Corolla so that the cables can reach. I tell him to push it to line it up with the Prius, and he stops to ask me if we should ask our neighbour for help. Their garage door is opening. I say no, use what we have. After all, you can’t impose on someone else. But C is a nice neighbour and offers help when he drives up and sees our predicament.
  • There’s more cursing on my part with Dad’s refusal to listen to me when I tell him we need to shift the car to give C room and so the cars are more parallel. Look, this guy is being nice enough to help, just cooperate with me to make it easier for him to help us!!!!

Bullshit lots of practice. It’s exhausting.

2. Social Ineptitude

A couple our family knows has been immensely helpful and kind throughout the years we’ve spent in Australia. They’ve been welcoming, cooked for us, taken us to dinner, introduced us to other lovely people… very nice, overall. Anyway, Dad takes it upon himself to thank them for lending us some gear to fix up the house and re-grout the bathroom. He’s decided to do it with food. However, I have some suggestions.

  • Learn more than one dish to say thank you. Pizza is very well and good, but you’ve done it before. No one likes a one-trick pony. Besides, pizza doesn’t really say, “Thank you!” I think convention is usually baked goods of some kind. Or alcoholic beverages.
  • Timing. Why would you give a pizza to them after the event tonight? Or before? There’s a group of you tonight, so going to their house with a pizza is weird. Or you can do like you did, Dad, and invite them to dinner on the spur of the moment.
  • Do not spring it on them. Calling someone to say, “I’ve made you some dinner!” forces them to accept and possibly change plans they already have.
  • Language. Ok, I’m getting better with using expletives widely, but I mean language generally. If you must invite them to dinner an hour and a half before you all go to meet up with more friends, then don’t use the words, “Can you tell [your wife] to hold off?” Just overhearing it made me cringe with the awkward wording. It makes it sound like she’s a child and doing something wrong.
  • RELAX GODDAMMIT. Look, it’s very nice that you’d like to give some to everyone at the event, but it’s not feasible after we’ve already eaten and there’s only 6-7 slices left. You don’t know how many people are going to show up tonight and they’ve probably already eaten dinner before showing up. So take a cue from me kicking you under the table (three times!!).

Holy fucking goddamn shit. FUCK. How has he survived so long being so socially unaware? How the fuck did I gain any kind of social awareness? SHIT.

I should take my own advice and not care so much. It’s not worth the effort. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. You know, the thing is, if it was anyone else’s dad, I’d probably be much more forgiving and say it was ok. Well, that time T’s dad called one of our mates a fascist was pretty hilarious.

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