My Sad Homie


It’s been nearly a week and I’ve gone from “must write about this” to “this is too depressing to write about.” But it bugs me so I feel I must lay it to rest in a niche web site like a difficult puppy at a rest stop. So if this makes no sense or doesn’t seem to somehow resolve as a story should, know that I’m just shoving it out of the car without looking into it’s sad little face.

We took the Girl Scout Brownie girls on their first overnight. Since nobody in our small troop was ready to take the girls for a real hike and camp, we went to a Kampground of America where there’s a pool and a bathroom and people everywhere. I wasn’t hugely keen on the Krazy KOA Kamp (a lot of K’s) but so be it. I’ll survive. Who am I to rock little girl boats.

All the girls came. Which was great. This was the pinnacle of girl empowerment and self-sufficiency for 8 year-olds. Of the six girls, most were bringing their mothers. Even my kid was going to bring her mom/my wife since she hadn’t had the opportunity to do much scout stuff during the year. So I was psyched! I’d have 24 hours to just hang in the house by myself, spread out on the bed and sleep in until 8:00 maybe. Maybe watch a video. The life! But my kid decided at the last-minute that she didn’t want to hurt my feelings and invited me along as well.

So it was me, five moms, and one other dad. I was concerned about the one other dad out of more reasons than jealousy. For some reason I don’t know, I had previously formed opinions of Don. His wife seems nice enough and his kids were OK, but something was bothering me about New Money Don.

You could tell Don was from newish money because he was a guy with a lot of toys and exaggerated behaviors. Giant Caddy Esco with “mad rims,” huge baroque watch, giant house…you could tell he had no idea how to live an old-school opulent life. But it was his transparent frat-boyishness of Don that most concerned me. Something about him reminded me of the George Hugely type but who am I to judge?

So everyone had already arrived at our KOA except Holly, Heather and their father, Don. We had partially set-up camp when the girls dragged their over-heated parents over to the tiny pool. We were hanging out at the tiny pool when we heard loud Sirius/XM hip-hop lite from a new giant Escalade. The Don had arrived. The Don was in the house, as the kids used to say.

Don and kids made it over to the pool after a half-hour or so. Don was drinking a cup of beer which seemed odd.  He asked me what the “rules were for this stuff.”  That seemed odder. I said that I strongly suspect that there’s drinking at the KOA but that discretion was probably best. He told me how happy he was that I was there too. He was looking forward to having a drink, he mentioned. That was oddest.

Once we had our campsite set up, the girls went off to play miniature golf. I stayed back to get a fire going and start with dinner. Don and a couple of moms stayed behind too. As we were making fire with charcoal and gasoline and preparing for dinner Don mentioned, over his beer, that a margarita would be nice. We all agreed that that sounded good. I even professed my love for girly drinks and Mexican margaritas (tequila, no mix, no ice, no salt). I was riffin’ funny to a new, captive audience. So I was too full of my own bit to really monitor anyone else.

Don produced tequila like a magician. Oh. Well, since I’m not one to turn down a drink I accepted the offer like the gentleman I am. But, doy, I had no desire to get hammered. A drink? Yes. A party? No. Neither did the moms. But it appears that Don may have some self-control issues.

By the time we were finished eating, Don was staggeringly, fall-down drunk. Drunk! Drunk dad at a Brownie overnight drunk. Fucked-up drunk. I was talking sports and stuff with him and he began actually passing out with ice cream in his lap. On his daughter’s girl-empowering Brownie overnight. At a point he even offered a creepy, inappropriate, and unsolicited, “compliment” to one of the moms. I sighed and shrugged to my wife.

So, I can’t ask him to leave because he can’t drive drunk, nor can really find a way to tame him to my satisfaction even though, clearly, a spot correction was in order. Don is one of those former linebacker types. I’d have to cut his Achilles tendon to tamp him. So I figured that sleeping it off was the best course of action. We’d all bail in the morning. All would be forgiven, right?

The screaming and raging at 2:30 a.m. was so much more than embarrassing that I struggle with words to describe it. Harrowing is a word that might come close. We were all independently concerned that the verbal harassment abuse Don was heaping upon his young daughters would become physical and direct toward us. Don had gotten a second-wind and was cussing and raging at his kids for not sleeping; blaming them for all the ills he had to contend with in life. The oldest girl was screaming phrases of retort like, “I HATE YOU AND I’M GOING TO TELL MOMMY HOW MEAN YOU ARE AND ABOUT ALL THE THINGS YOU DO TO ME!!” and “I’M GOING TO RUN AWAY AND NEVER SEE YOU AGAIN!!”

All the moms were in alert mode–it was probably Don’s inelegant, “If you don’t stop crying I’ll give you something to cry about” threats at 2:50 a.m. that created the tension–and I was actually sitting outside the Don family tent with phone ready for the 9-1-1 call that there’s a man-bear mauling people at the KOA or that I had to cut a man-bear’s Achilles tendon to protect the rest of the campground. Except that me, the black man, in those parts of the country, cutting down a good old boy football hero would not have been a positive to my personal long-term interest.

So, sadly, my most thoughtful and calculated move that night was to sit outside Don’s tent. Ready. For God knows what. My plan was to make enough rustling noises so that the occupants (Don) were clearly aware that there was “presence.”

Nothing more happened. There was some brief and awkward debriefing among the rest of the parents as we all went to eat breakfast and as we broke camp. All I could muster to Don was, “Dude, I can’t…whew, what a night. You….” We all left.

Yes, there’s been corrective and healthy follow-up but I remain concerned that I could have, should have, done more. All the subsequent debriefing suggested that there really wasn’t, but I it was ugly enough to force that sort of reflection. I mean, even though nothing would have been different, I feel like a schmuck for having a drink with the guy.

I remain deeply concerned that we were just witness to a peek-a-book iceberg tip of a, uh, deeper situation.


15 Responses to “My Sad Homie”

  1. Grayman Says:

    You should have called the Police.

    You should call the Police today and report the kid yelling about “ALL THE THINGS YOU DO TO ME!!” as potential child abuse by the father. No shit.

    Call to discuss if you wish.


  2. Robin Madel Says:

    I agree with Grayman. This guy needs a visit from Social Services. He’s a grade A ass.

    Have you or any of the moms spoken to the Don’s wife?

    Kamping is one of those activities where everyone is forced to deal with everyone else’s shit. I can’t stand kamping at kampgrounds unless it’s in the winter and the kampground is out in the middle of nowhere and mostly empty and I’m not forced to listen to the humanity taking place in the tent next to me. Yeesh.

  3. The Prof Says:

    Holy Crap. I was half-way through the piece before I realized the dude’s wife WASN’T there. Drunk and alone with kids? As a father of two, the wife and I would never get so stinking drunk with the kids present that we wouldn’t be able take care of them if something should arise. And in terms of protocol……if the gathering is a group of kids from a sports team, school, scouts, whatever, the fucking protocol is No Drinking. Birthday party at home, 1-2 drinks max. Drunk in presence of kids, uh, never.

  4. Sam!! Says:

    Not a dad myself, but my two cents.

    You should call the police if a crime is being committed. “ALL THE THINGS YOU DO TO ME”, Grayman, is not evidence of child abuse, but a threat from a child to pit one parent against the other. The “things” could be: taking away coloring books as punishment, not letting her wear her Wheelies to the mall or other horrific actions a parent can take against their kids.

    You shouldn’t drink around your kids, or at kids’ events, but you also shouldn’t swear in front of yr kids or let them watch TV to keep them quiet. Getting wasted in front of them is terrible – don’t do that, as Dad Homey didn’t, but social services is serious business and you will probably screw up lives way worse than a drunk dad will.

    Hopefully all the girls in the Troop were so impacted by Don the Dad that they delayed their first drinking foray by a year or two. You did fine, Ty. You waited for the turn for the even worse, and it didn’t come. Don’s a drunk dick and a bad dad. That’s not criminal or anything you could have solved by stepping in.

  5. Victoria Says:

    Hey Ty,
    This makes me really, really sad. But I would recommend that you speak with someone from the Girl Scout Council. They are trained to deal with possible abuse issues and would probably be prepared to take some kind of action that would help to protect the girls.

  6. Grayman Says:


    You should only call the Police when a crime is being committed?


    So if I hear my neighbor upstairs screaming for help and furniture breaking and things being thrown, which I suspect is her husband beating her, I shouldn’t call the Police because I am not actually witnessing a crime but I merely suspect one?


    It is my job as a Citizen to call the Police when I SUSPECT a crime is being committed.

    It is the job of the Police to INVESTIGATE to confirm or refute my suspicion.

    Don’t you watch Law and Order?

    “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.”


  7. Ty Hardaway Says:

    Everyone has made tremendous points.

  8. robin Says:

    ty- clearly (or maybe not so clearly), the other adults were feeling the same social constraints that you were up against:

    1. Do not meadle in another family’s affairs
    2. Do not embarrass a parent in front of their kids
    3. Do not embarrass the kids even more by elevating the tirade to a public scene
    4. Do not directly confront a mean drunk

    The only other option that was left to you beyond the one you choose and the second of calling the police would have been soliciting the help of several mothers to remove the kids from screaming/hitting range. But, I fear, that would have lead to option two.

    You did the best you could. I am just sorry that don’s kids and all the other scouts had to bear witness to DAD ACTING VERY BAD.

  9. Ty Hardaway Says:

    @Robin: In our debrief we all admitted to not knowing just what to do but being aware of escalation. Number 3 was in all our heads, clearly, as was number 4.

    Anyway, I know what to do now: reset the scene. Shine my 3-D cell Maglight right into the tent and say, “Stop. Now. Girls you’re both in the big tent. Don. Go to sleep. Shut up.”

    Cross fingers, hope it works have 9 and 1 dialed and hover over the second 1.

  10. PBG Says:

    I have to side with Sam!! on this one. I think you can only presume to really know so much about what’s going on. And if you go past that into presumption, then you are to some extent violating a person’s privacy.

    There’s no law against being a huge dick, and a complete asshole. If you’d heard hard evidence (hitting me, touching me, etc.) then “hell, yeah” hit the 911 hard. Or if there was a scuffle. But bad judgement is simply unfortunate and unpleasant. And as far as it impacted the trip, it’s a shame. It seems like a Troop recap and decision on the Dad’s welcome at future events is in order. But moral rectitude aside, there’s been no law broken. And I agree, calling the police in this instance could have made life (in the near and distant future) even worse for those girls.

  11. Gavin Says:

    Man this is a tough one. I was about to bring up the possibility of a gray area where, instead of jumping in his tent and beating his ass, you yell something like, “Hey hey hey! Calm down over there. We’re trying to sleep!” But what if he gets all crazy drunk and comes into your tent to confront you? What if, you can’t seem to get him out of the tent and the fight ensues in there. During the wrestling his big boots are standing on your kid’s legs and shit. Oy vey.

    I guess what you should have done is done the hey hey thing from way outside your tent? But what if he knows which tent’s yours? Hmmm. Maybe a hidden “Hey hey Cool it” from an undisclosed location. If he comes out being normal you go, “Come on guy. It’s 2AM” but if he comes out like a deranged psycho you either hit him with a log or have him chase you out of the ground and into the woods. He’s wasted and exhausted and you are on your game. Guerilla warfare. You wouldn’t even have to fight him. Just lead him far away and let him get lost.

    Anyway, thanks for making us all have to consider shit like this Don you piece of shit. Thanks for making every dad here question his manhood WHILE worrying about what he holds most dear – his children’s safety.

    Let’s get in a Chevy Nova and drive over to his next poker night with baseball bats. It’s not something his girls should see but it has to be done.

  12. Ty Hardaway Says:

    Chevy Nova with interior light disabled, black primer. Bats, chains, and one sock full of C-cells). “Don’t slam the doors, Holmes!” Hoodies and the stench of Bud Light. Fuck a dude up quick and brutal-style! I totally agree that something still needs to be done. But I live in a fairly small community with a long memory which plays into my favor.

    I was never concerned about my personal safety or that of my family because I was strapped with my 7″ Ka-Bar tactical knife which I mostly didn’t want to use. But a nick to the forearm or quad would redirect the attention from any physical abuse. A chase into the woods or to the river.

    [Remember kids: You may carry a “[knife] as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger” and in some jurisdictions, a 1″ lockback in a pocket is illegal, but a 15″ Bowie swinging free is OK.]

    The strength of my weak-ass move was that I was the bet/probability that Don would pass out and that would make everything go away.

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  14. tiltherewasyou Says:

    While I agree that this dude sounds like a complete bad-dad waste of space who probably shouldn’t be allowed to take his kids camping (or anywhere else unsupervised) uh… ever – Child Protective Services / Childrens Aid, etc are not agencies you want to mess with “on a hunch.”

    Having known two innocent people (in both the US & Canada) who have been touched by these organizations – it is some life-ruining shit. It’s great that they are doggedly pursuing some truly heinous individuals but they drain the savings and the patience of people who may just have mildly unconventional ways of parenting, but are in no way putting their children in harm’s way.

    Like Sam said, “the things you do to me” can be twisted by adult ears to mean all sorts of nasty things, but could just as easily mean forcing her to go to the piano lessons she hates. Without further exploration, contacting a child protection agency could prove extremely unwise. There are no “overnights” in foster care, know’m sayin’?

  15. Ty Hardaway Says:

    ^^^ Agreed. I believe this is why none of us pulled the CPS trigger. Once in the system, forever in the system.

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