Today is Earl’s birthday.
I know this because the text message I got from my mother said: “call pop pop and wish him a happy birthday.”
I’m not really sure how old he is, because he has always been old. Not like bed bound kind of old, but old enough to sound ridiculous when he says things like “hey Joey you tryna get in on this stripper party I’m havin?”
He isn’t really a blood relative, but he did reluctantly adopt my younger siblings and I. All of us, at times either looked up to, or loathed him. He was our sole male figure. We just stared up at hime and called him “pop pop.” There was never any question.
Earl is a brown skinned fellow with a salt & pepper goatee who loves the color red, just like I do. Loves red so much that he would regularly wear a red leather jacket with red leather pants without any regard for the weather. Wore it like Michael Jackson wore that red leather in the “Thriller” video. With the red leather he sometimes wore a black fish net shirt. It was also a belly shirt. A black, plastic looking belt with a black top hat and black shoes would set it all off. Under the hat was a sort of box cut/perm combo dyed black that he would comb vigorously, while avoiding any other form of personal hygiene one might perform in front of a bathroom mirror. I think what I’ve always liked most about him is that he sets the standard for taking a fucking joke.
Some other interesting facts about Earl:
My mother started, and continued having children from the time she was 13, dropped them off at Earl’s apartment (he was in a relationship with Ruby, my maternal grandmother) and I guess he was just like fuck it, I’ll take a few brats off your hands.
He used to beat my grandmother bloody, sometimes with a boot and force her to perform sexual acts after catching her stealing money or toys from us to buy crack.
Many say that he had sex with my mother (unverified but not unlikely) and that he could be my father, an interesting theory.
He is ridiculously heavy handed. I would have rather gotten all kinds of butt naked-post shower ass beatings than to be “popped upside the head” by him for doing something stupid.
He set, and still holds the Guinness world record for calling me several derivatives “pussy ass faggot,” to guide my budding manhood.
He works hard as shit, I mean the guy was born old and doing factory work, metal coating stuff, still does it. The entire time I’ve known him he has come home filthy and marred at least 5 days a week, and some of those days with cheap toys to entertain us or life saving groceries from Save-A-Lot.
He plays pretty hard too (see: aforementioned stripper party). Although he wasn’t as big on the hard drugs in my lifetime, weed and alcohol were always household staples. Colt 45 and Bacardi for him, Mad Dog 20/20 for the kids.
He’s really good at ping-pong for some reason. Like he met and trained with Forrest Gump back in his military days but never talks about it. It’s just strange.
I never got the chance to call, was too busy. I did finally accept that request on Facebook though.
Happy Birthday Pop pop!