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The Bolsheviks Were All I Had

December 1, 2013


In February of this year, I was the last family member left standing with regard to being in charge of all the many things left in the family house (now the former family house). There were, and this is a low estimate, 200, 000 photos alone. I’m sure that number is higher, but photos were just a small portion of the things I had to sort through with regard to my family history.

In going through some of these things, I had the chance to remember a lot of things having to do with growing up in that house and at the same time thinking about how to approach writing a book about my life. A lot of people I’ve known have encouraged me to write a book about my life, so this was a good time to think about the best way to get, at the very least, a good outline and framework to accomplish that goal.

I’ll happily share a family anecdote on my blog. There are so many family anecdotes, it would be unlikely I could get even 1/18th of them in a single book, so here’s one I’ll post here.

There was a time, when I was about 6 or 7 I think, that my father seemed to have some major unresolved issues with the Bolsheviks. Now, it’s important to bear in mind that not only was my father an alcoholic, but he was also diabetic. He wasn’t the friendly, “I love you man” sort of drunk either. Add in the fact that many diabetics who don’t have good control of their sugar balance, have chemical situations that can make them volatile and angry. My dad was also a full-blown sugar addict. He displayed addiction behaviors just like any of the other addictive behaviors other people tend to display in relation to drugs and alcohol. Sometimes, one of the family would have to check the extra tire well of his car to make sure he wasn’t taking a stash of candy bars to work. One of us would have to wake up in the middle in the night if we heard someone else up and moving around to make sure Dad wasn’t hiding in the bathroom with the sugar bowl eating spoonfuls of sugar.

For any who may not be familiar with alcoholics, diabetics and specifically both, well in my house, everyone was vigilant, all the time and at any time, for any reason, a perfectly fine evening, could instantly become an “every man, woman and child for themselves”, “duck and over”, “save yourself” outright struggle that might possibly result in one of us not making to the next. I’m not over-stating the situation. By the time I was 8, I knew that anything in that house could be used as a weapon, but also could be used as a defense mechanism as well.

Needless to say, if someone sneezed too loudly around my Dad (that happened with my mother too, but this about my father right now), that was plenty enough reason for my dad to start an all-out, no-hold-barred, rant about the Bolsheviks that could possibly result in one of the rest of the family being thrown through a closet door. I was the smallest for a time, so to him, I was easy pickin’s. My mother got a wine glass thrown at her that hit her right in the head once on a “Bolshevik” tirade. My brother, Chris, got pushed out of his dinner chair and hit his head on the corner of the china cabinet. Put simply, no one was safe when Dad decided to unleash his feelings about the Bolsheviks in my house.

I can safely say he dished out his anger about the Bolsheviks for at least two years. He must have gotten all that anger out and finally gotten past all that though, because eventually, he stopped going on angry tirades about the Bolsheviks. He had plenty of other major issues with all sorts of other things, people and types in the world, so no worries, he certainly had a plethora of anger to pull from. He moved on from the Bolsheviks though.

My family did have a certain knack for finding the humor in certain things. Even if those were getting hit in the head or thrown through a door. We all could do that. We, as a family, eventually could make light of certain things and make little family private jokes about them…eventually. I’m not sure who the first one in my family to do this was, but one of us, a short time after we all realized that Dad was finished being upset about the Bolsheviks, someone used the phrase, “It must have been the Bolsheviks” to explain something that appeared at first to be a bit of a “mystery.”

I’ll give you an example. Objects in my house often got broken. There were always the obvious “breaking of things”, like someone threw something, hence the breaking of the thing that was thrown. Sometimes, however there would be a broken object that didn’t have an obvious, seen, reason for being broken on the floor. Mind you, we always had family cats, and it wasn’t uncommon in my house for one of the others (at that time, I was too young for it to be me), to have been on some substance, alcohol or drugs, and “accidentally” broken something and truly have no recollection of actually doing it. Of course, there was also the possibility that one of the humans, as in “non-cat”, did break something, knew that he/she did it, but didn’t want to confess. Confessing to things in my house translated to only one thing; a severe beating with an object that could dent your head if the recipient of the beating didn’t do whatever was necessary to protect his or head. As you can imagine, there was always reluctance to admit to breaking something, even if it was an accident. The reason why was not a factor in the matter when it came to that sort of thing.

So, in situations where there wasn’t a clear answer to why something was found broken, and the cats surely weren’t talking, there’d be a bit of a loud and unpleasant inquisition, that often involved the threat of physical violence. Sometimes, however, one of us would put an end to that and get the entire past the “mystery of the broken object”, but saying, “It must have been the Bolsheviks,” which, to us, was a little funny and helped us ease the situation sometimes. Once someone had the “stones” to actually just say, “It must of been the Bolsheviks”, none of us could do anything but start having a little of a laugh. My dad knew it was at his expense, but by that time, he was over the Bolshevik thing, so he took it with a sense of humor too. Sometimes, he’d be the one to say it and we’d all just leave the “mystery” a mystery and the state of the house would deescalate to normal, go about your business, “we’ll all live to see tomorrow” levels.

It became a fun, family, inside joke actually. When any of us were around other people or if we had company at the house, any one of us wouldn’t have a problem just chalking certain things that other people may have seen a “mystery” or had some discussion about in search of some, face value, immediate explanation for, we’d happily just say “It must have been the Bolsheviks” and just consider that the reason.

For example, my brother was playing recreation baseball at the time and when we as a family were out watching his team play another league team, one of the parents of a player on my brother’s team said the following to my dad, “I wonder why we have a such a hard time playing this (the other team that kept beating my brother’s team) team?” Well, my mother and I certainly had a nice family laugh together when my father looked that parent right in the eye and straight-faced told him exactly why that team kept getting the best of my brother’s baseball team. Yes, indeed, the answer my dad provided was, “It’s because of the Bolsheviks”. That explanation became our family way of explaining things that didn’t seem to have a clear, answer to and it was our thing.

It was out family “thing” until I put an end to all of that. Yes, it was me who ended that particular family “thing”. I was last family member, as far as I know, to use the term “Bolshevik”. Here’s how that happened. I was probably 10 or 11 and decided to sneak out after dark to meet some of friends to play “Dungeons and Dragons”. Yes, nerdy as it may be, I will say it was a few years later when “Dungeons and Dragons” friend time also was the time when I became familiar with the fact that it only took 2 moderate swigs of straight grain alcohol to put me down for the night, if you catch my drift. “Dungeons and Dragons” taught me not mess around with grain alcohol. Anyway, as to the last night “Bolshevik” was spoken by a member of my family, I was returning home after sneaking out and attempting to put my 10-speed bike up against the garage door at the back of the house so I could quietly slip into the house through the back, basement door.

My bike and I made it about 10 feet from the garage door, when on came the basement light and there in the newly lit darkness were the silhouettes of BOTH parents. Had it been just one parent standing there, I might have thought I had a chance to at least have the punishment happen the following day, after school, or even get a pass. That would happen every now and again. The fact that both parents were present meant that I was about to have a really, really bad night. That’s when I saw the wooden spoon in my mother’s hand. That meant that I wasn’t even going to make it in the house before I started having that really, really, bad and painful night. So, what did I do?

Instinct kicked in and at that point I was not thinking in anyway. My autonomic response systems kicked in and the threat to my physical being was enough for my automatic defense systems to take total control of my and those innate systems chose – flight. I let go of the bike, turn tail and took off toward the line of bushes that marked the line between our family property and the neighbor’s property. As I was about mid-air in a head first dive into said bushes and as the sound of the bike I left behind crashing to the ground reached its conclusion, I said clearly and loudly, “The Bolsheviks made me do it.”

I then rolled out of the bushes on the other side, frantically removed the shoelace that got caught in the bushes and took off down the hill, through a few back yards to the woods that were about 1/4 mile away. I didn’t look back. I didn’t stop even after I ran my foot into some sort of unseen hard object in one of the back yards through which I ran that hurtled me to the ground and resulted in some of my skin being removed from my elbow. Once I found a good place to “hide” in the woods, I did realize I was just putting of the inevitable, but at the same time, I hope with all my my might that perhaps the fact that I brought the “Bolsheviks” into would lessen the punishment I was going to receive. It didn’t.

I stayed in the woods for several hours and then got tired, so I went back to the house and just knocked on the front door to be let in to take my punishment as it was meant to happen. My parents did not find the “Bolshevik” comment humorous in the slightest and that was the end of the family “fun” blaming the Bolsheviks for unexplained events. I pulled the “Bolshevik card” in the incorrect situation, but frankly, today, thinking back at it, it’s still pretty darn funny.

Yes Bolsheviks, I know it was not the right thing to do to blame you for something I did, but at that moment, you were all I had. You were all I had.

Good times.

peace – mia – How they hanging out there world? Mine aren’t hanging at all. They’re just as nice and firm and perky as they were when I was 22. No really. ;-D luv ya


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