Pop got mad at me

I can remember only once in my life when my father got mad at me. Maybe this is why I’ve never forgotten it. My mother, it seemed to me, was often angry or displeased about my behavior, but not Pop.

I’ve often thought of the incident, and puzzled over it. Why was he so mad? I was so surprised when he lost his temper that it startled me. I think I actually jumped. Pop—my champion, the one who seemed to understand my peculiar ways—was mad at me.climate-change-tv-ad

So what was it all about? Pop was a writer and an avid reader, and when my sister Bertie and I were kids, he liked to read to us at night when we went to bed. On this particular occasion, he was reading a book called “The Back of the North Wind,” written in by George MacDonald 1871. It was a very thick book, as I recall, with somewhat gloomy illustrations. It tells the story of a sweet little boy named Diamond who has numerous adventures riding on the back of the north wind. The north wind represents pain and death, supposedly leading to something good according to God’s will. The country of the north wind is without pain and death, and she brings Diamond there, but it’s only a shadow of the real country, which he can’t see until he dies, which he does at the end of the book.

Although Pop seemed fascinated by this tale, I found it boring and depressing. When he was only a chapter or two into it, I took the book one day and sneaked a peek at the ending, because I wanted to see what happened to Diamond right away instead of having to endure listening to Pop read a chapter every night.

Then I made the mistake of telling Pop what I had done. He was furious. He said, “You NEVER, EVER skip to the end of a book to find out what happened! EVER!” The veins in his forehead were popping and he slammed the book shut. After that he didn’t read it to us any more.

I wonder to this day what made him so mad. Was it really because I’d spoiled the story by skipping to the end? Or did it have something to do with his own somewhat insecure feelings about being a writer himself? Was he afraid that his own work was so boring (as my mother used to tell him it was) that people would want to skip to the end? Or had he just had a bad day? I guess I’ll never know. But one thing is for sure—I never skipped to the end of a book again to find out what happened.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Pop got mad at me

  1. Ian

    I can so totally relate. My sister always skips to the end if the book to see how it ends before she even starts reading. She says its because she is more interested in the journey to the end that the end itself….I still don’t understand her reasoning. I could never skip to the end. I don’t know, maybe its out if respect to the author. If the author wanted me to know the end, they would have put it at the beginning. Fun to think about. Thanks.

    • As far as I can remember, I think that was the only time I ever skipped to the end of a book…I think it was because I just didn’t like the book and wanted to be done with it! 🙂

  2. Steve Graham

    My first thought was that no matter how good or decent or consistent a person is, they’re bound to be off their game at least one day in a lifetime. But this also reminds me of an episode of “The Middle” that I saw on ABC last night, one of the characters, Axl, spoils the ending of a book for his younger brother, Brick. What ensues is Axl learning a hard lesson about taking away something that could not be brought back. Not a direct comparison here, but it got me thinking.

    • You know, I have a feeling that might be what happened with my father…he was angry because I thoughtlessly (and selfishly) took away something that couldn’t be brought back. I have to remember that he was reading to my sister, too, so that’s why it was thoughtless and selfish. Of course I’ve forgiven myself now. 🙂

  3. Steve Graham

    If you get the chance to see the episode online, I thought that what this kid told his brother was actually pretty eloquent and moving.

  4. I can actually understand Ian’s sister’s take on this end jumping business. I can’t explain it. I don’t do it often, but sometimes the story is so fascinating I want to know where it ends WHILE I still on the journey. As I say, it doesn’t happen often.

  5. Gordon Myers

    Why would your mom tell him his writing was boring? :/

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