I don't remember much about my father. Really, the only things I have to remind me of him these days are faded photographs. Sepia colored memories of someone I never really knew. I've spent hours scouring my memories for a sound, a smell, something that would trigger a recollection of a father son moment. Nothing. No summer days spent playing catch, no rough housing on the living room floor, no man to man talks about girls or how to protect myself or Monday nights spent watching football or any other sporting event. My brother and I are a generation of Martinez men that were raised almost exclusively by women.
Sure, my grandfather did the best he knew how, but he was 70 years old and couldn't possibly keep up with two kids. My uncle was around only sparingly, but he was too wrapped up in his mistress and smoking pot to really take an active role in our lives. It fell squarely upon my grandmother and great grandmother's shoulders to raise us. They of course tried their best as well, but I always knew something was missing. They couldn't show me how to change a tire (I learned that later in auto shop class in high school), and they couldn't show me how to properly throw a spiral pass with a football. When I lived with my mother again, it was with her and her partner Liz. I took what lessons I could from whatever other guys I hung around with and pretended to be just like them.
So, I became the geek that hung out with the kids that played Dungeons & Dragons and whispered to each other excitedly about the latest sci-fi movie. My brother coached pee wee football. I loved to read about ancient mythology, monsters, and attended comic book conventions. My brother read the Sports Illustrated. I took Advanced Placement art classes in high school and never took up any sports. My brother watches football every Sunday and Monday night. I can't quote you batting averages but I can quote almost the entire script from Aliens word for word. My brother knows the entire lineup for the New York Yankees. I don't know the difference between a Catalytic Converter and a Distributor Cap, but if you place a sci-fi DVD in the suspense section of my DVD collection, you can bet your ass you're going to hear about it. I could care less who wins the Super Bowl or the Pro Am Bowl World Series of Who Gives a Rat's Ass. I never saw a rock concert given by some iconic rock band, but I saw Dee-Lite and Doc Marten perform at a rave and loved every minute of it. Whether this is a result of the lack of a strong stereotypical male role model, I don't know and I don't care. Because I like who I am, and I make no apologies for it.
My name is Manuel Martinez.