Maybe “hate” is too strong a word, but the alternatives aren’t all that much better; “despise”, “abhor”, “disdain”…nasty terms, all of ‘em. I’m not fond of any of my current in-laws, but my father-in-law is the worst.
So as not to seem like the stereotypical “guy who hates his in-laws”, I should mention that this is my second marriage, my second set of in-laws.
My former father-in-law was…quite frankly, the coolest old man I’ve ever met. I loved ‘The Colonel’, honestly, he was a friend of mine. He was an ex-Air Force officer, ultra-conservative, Republican, a war hero, a tough old bird who should have come across like a swaggering, mean old redneck; but that wasn’t The Colonel at all. He was humble, modest, almost shy. You had to get a few beers in the ol’ boy before he’d tell you any war stories…and he had a ton of them; he was an ace pilot in Korea and ‘Nam, huge kill record, incredibly decorated, once chosen for NASA (he declined), once a member of The Thunderbirds flight team, once base commander of Bergstrom AFB. The old man wasn’t a braggart; when you asked him about his military career, he’d usually change the subject. I didn’t hear his ‘we used to fly right up to the Czech border just to piss the Soviets off and make them go on Full Alert‘ story until I had known him 3+years; the fantastic ‘Area 51’ story until I’d known him 5-6 years.
He loved woodworking (one of the many common grounds we had), reading, history, cars, jokes and had a military guy’s love and fondness for beer and spirits. I always called him “The Colonel”, and he always called me by my name or ‘son’.
He had a beautiful old ’64 1/2 Mustang— factory Primrose in color, with a RARE 4-cylinder engine— that was his pride and joy. I’d always ask him “…so, Colonel, when are you ‘gonna sell me that Mustang?” and he’d always reply, “No need to sell it to you, son; you’ll get it when I die.”
We were polar opposites politically, but when we’d disagree it always came to, “…oh, I can’t agree with that shit,”. When we said goodbye after a visit it was always with a firm/crushing handshake and a ‘guy hug’…you know, when you lean in close and slap each on the on the back while shaking hands.
When the marriage dissolved, never seeing or hanging out with The Colonel again was one of the things that made me shed the most tears.
My current father-in-law? Oh, Christ.
My father-in-law looks like a clone of Colonel Sanders, and is an obnoxious old fart who has clearly chosen ‘pontification’ as his primary form of address. The old boy could (and would) talk the ears off of a dead man; if you ask him what time it is, he’ll tell you the complete oral history of the watch-making industry from the creation of the first sundial to present, different concepts of time that he’s read about, his own theory of the space/time continuum, the minute details of every watch he’s ever owned, why his watch is better than your watch, the social significance of clock towers in medieval societies…you may not actually ever find out what time it is, but you can rest assured, by the time he’s finished talking it’ll be at least 20 minutes later than when he started.
He’s a retired engineer, worked at a paper mill most of his adult life, but to listen to his long-winded oration(s), you’d think the man held multiple degrees in every subject ever imagined and had maybe even invented a few new ones.
And he couches all of the generous pearls o’ wisdom that he kindly drops upon society with this bullshit, folksy, hayseed-y, Wil Rogers-Lite manner that just makes me grit my teeth. He’s like the gene-spliced love child between The Professor on “Gilligan’s Island” and Gomer Pyle.
And a braggart? An attempted master of oneupsmanship? If you had a kitty cat as a childhood pet, he likely had a leopard; if your first car was a fast old Chevy, his was a vintage Cadillac outfitted with a jet engine; if you had a dip in the pool on a hot afternoon, he probably swam the goddamned English Channel (setting a new world record, at that). If you’ve got big, he’s got bigger; if you’ve got bad, he’s got badder; if you’ve got good, he’s got super-amazingly, jaw-droppingly outrageously, stupendously fucking AWESOME!
I simply cannot imagine that the guy has lived 70-some-odd years on the planet without ever having someone ask him to, pleeeeese, just shut the fuck up.