How can I put how I feel delicately? The point is, I can’t. There’s nothing delicate about any of this. I don’t know what to say… it’s not like anybody listens to me anyway. It wasn’t enough for them when my hair started falling out, when my hairline was creeping backward at an alarming rate, when all the hair I had left turned gray overnight. That’s not normal. I always knew the real reason for it all, and it wasn’t age or genes or whatever like people kept trying to tell me. I’ve been saying the same thing for years—the truth—but nobody wants to hear it.
So let’s start with the facts. I am now fifty-eight years old. My son is twenty-six years old. He’s out of college, out of the house, living on his own, and he’s not my problem anymore. He pays his own bills now, buys his own food, wipes his own ass. I’m done. I never have to see him again. People don’t seem to get that, don’t seem to understand our dynamic, but that’s only because they never listened to me. They don’t understand why I won’t drive down to New York to visit him. Why I won’t answer his calls. Why when people ask me what he’s up to I say I don’t care, and really mean it.
Let me spell it out for you: my life has gone to shit, and I can pinpoint the day it happened. Pinpoint the hour. My life was perfectly good up until I became a father.
Look at me—I’m old, I’m fat, I’m bald. I can’t blame it all on the kid. But listen to this: before my son was born, I was happy and healthy and I had nice hair. My golf game was good, and getting better every time. I ran a seven-minute mile. I got enough sleep. I didn’t want to shoot myself every morning. Then, I had a kid, and suddenly I was lucky if I got four hours of sleep a night. I had no time to golf. The doctor told me I had high cholesterol and high blood pressure. When I wasn’t being yelled at by my boss I was being yelled at by my wife. And the cherry on top: I was totally bald by the time I turned thirty-three. Genetics, my ass.
So I became so fucking miserable that I lost all my hair, and what did I get in return? I got one son, and I hate him. There, I said it. I hate him. I hate my son. (As if it’s really been a secret all this time.)
I don’t know why people are afraid of saying stuff like this. Saying the truth. Confronting their problems. “I hate my son.” It doesn’t sound so bad. A little weird, sure—I sound like I should be talking to some turtleneck-wearing shrink in family therapy, or be featured on Dr. Phil or something, where they force me to confront my son. But I’m no crazier than any of the other people on that show each week. Is that show every week? Point is, there’s enough of them out there to keep the program going, so crazy is not as rare as people think. Not that I’m crazy. What I’m saying is, I’m not. Just average in every way. When my face shows up onscreen, this is what people read: “Greg Simmons, 58. Waltham, Massachusetts. Hates his son.”
I guarantee that show would call me Greg on air. Everyone always does, no matter how much I correct them. They call me “Greg” as if just saying that means we’re friends. I know my piece-of-shit assistant calls me “Greggy” behind my back. Anything’s better than that. “Greg Simmons, 58. Waltham, Massachusetts. Hates his son.” Straight to the point. I ought to just carry a sign around that says that, so people know what my problem is right away.
It’s not a problem, though. It’s all true, all 100% certifiable fact. Those shows won’t let you say anything that’s not true. Sure, Dr. Phil seems like a fucking quack, but they won’t let you flat-out lie on air. I have the documents to prove it all. I was born Gregory Simmons at 8:38 a.m. on October 13, 1959, at Boston Children’s. Check the birth certificate. I’ve lived in Waltham my whole life. My current residence: 137 Bear Hill Road. My current job: Division Senior Managing Executive Vice President at Thermo Fisher Scientific. My current relationship to my son: I hate him.
My name is Gregory Simmons, and I hate my son. My name is Gregory Simmons. My son’s name is Gregory Simmons. No “Jr.,” that’s important. Different middle names.
Maybe “hate” is too strong, if I’m being really honest. And I want to be honest. So maybe not hate. But definitely not like. Definitely not love. That doesn’t have quite the same ring to it—my name is Gregory Simmons and I definitely don’t love my son. I’m sick of all the euphemisms, of all the sugar coating, covering up the truth, pretending that life isn’t as shitty as it is. I never should’ve been a father in the first place, and I fucking knew it back then, so I really know it now. At least Lisa and I had the good sense to stop after one, thank God. But one was still too many.
My name is Gregory Simmons, and I shouldn’t have been a father.
I know what everyone else thinks. They won’t listen when I say that I hate my son, because how could I really mean that? That’s the problem with people. They won’t listen when you say just what you mean. It’s never enough to just say you hate your son and leave it at that. But I guess there’s something wrong with me. It’s like they forgot to flip a switch or something. I knew I was supposed to feel something when the baby popped out, but I just didn’t. I was supposed to feel something when he spoke his first word—it was “Dad,” of course—but I didn’t. I was supposed to get all excited when he wanted to play catch, or started to drive, or asked for advice on girls, but I didn’t.
Lisa kept saying to just wait: these things take time, she said, and not everyone falls in love with their child instantly. She sure loved our kid instantly, but maybe I was a late bloomer. Maybe I would grow into fatherhood or something, I thought. Kids hate their parents all the time, right, and then eventually they grow out of it? So maybe it was just natural that I’d hate my kid for a little while, and grow out of it, and then look back on all of this and laugh.
But even then I knew I was just kidding myself. I kept waiting for it to get to where I could start laughing. And nothing changed. I never felt any different. I learned how to pretend better, sure, knew how I was supposed to act, knew what I was supposed to say, knew how to cover up how I really felt with something that passed well enough. But I definitely didn’t feel the same way those other fathers did about their sons, unless they were pretending too, and this whole fatherhood thing was one big conspiracy.
Maybe it is. All I know is that I hated never being able to stay out late at a bar, or travel anywhere that wasn’t “kid-approved,” or have a silent moment to myself for once. I hated having to spend all my money buying crap for him. I hated having to go to a million baseball or football or basketball games. And I hated feeling like somehow I was a fuckup for not loving every second of it.
Sometimes, I just wish that my son would have dropped out of college, or stolen all my money to buy drugs, or killed my wife, so that I’d have had a reason to hate him. But he’s a good kid—always got straight As, graduated from Yale, has a swanky job in New York. He volunteers at a fucking soup kitchen. He’s every parent’s dream. I hate him even more for that.
I was born Gregory Simmons at 8:38 a.m. on October 13, 1959, at Boston Children’s. My son was born Gregory Simmons at 2:24 p.m. on July 7, 1991, at Boston Children’s. He was born completely bald, and didn’t get his hair until he was almost two. We were convinced his hair was never going to come in, but then it did, practically overnight. And just like that, all my hair started falling out. Now he has plenty of hair, and I’m the fucking bald one.
I was willing to try anything at first. I tried Rogaine and fancy shampoos and special medicines and laser light therapy. I tried all sorts of those bullshit home remedies: argan oil and onion juice and aloe and licorice root and gooseberry and fenugreek and a million other plants that I’m not even sure are real. But none of them worked. The hair was gone, and it was never going to come back. And now I just have to accept that. Look at my head now, totally bald. It looks fucking great.
I’m glad I gave up. It was never going to work, and it was never convincing anyway. I’m not one of those guys that is so desperate to pretend that he wears a bad toupee, or acts like he has a loving relationship with his son. Those guys are just pathetic. You can tell from a mile away that it isn’t real, and it’s sad. That’s why I’m not trying to hide any of it: I can try all sorts of things at home but when it comes down to it, I can’t change how I am.
I’ve read that you supposedly inherit baldness from your mother’s father. I won’t believe that. I won’t let my son believe that. There’s more to it that science isn’t telling us. I’m living proof, and that’s why I hate him. It would be nice if he hated me, too. That would make all of this much easier. So when my son loses all his hair one day, I just hope he’ll blame me.