We ordered fish and chips at a fry joint on L Street. We sat at a scratched Formica booth, graffiti scrawled across the table. Our food arrived just as I started complaining about my ex.
Frank brought me up short. “I thought you told me you made mistakes too, Tom?”
“Yeah, so what? She is still being a complete bitch, never giving me an inch, accusing me of being a bad father,” I snapped back.
“Well, what you did was not right, plain and simple.”
“No fucking buts about it, pal. Let that sink into your fucking brain.”
I thought, Why the hell am I taking advice from an ex-con who was just last week talking about cruising hookers? But I pushed that thought away, tried to listen to what he was saying.
“The only way you are going to get over fucking up is to admit that you did. Stop denying it. You made a mistake. A big one,” Frank continued. I had been apologizing my whole life; it was my way of excusing my bad behavior.
We ate our fried food for a while, shooting the shit about sports. As we finished up, I came back around. “Maybe you’re right,” I admitted. “I can’t seem to get over feeling shitty about being a liar, which causes me to do all kinds of insanely stupid things to cover up the past.”
“Bingo! Let’s go help some sick motherfuckers who have a hell of a lot more to worry about than you do.”
With that, Frank got up and paid our bill.
—Photo Number Six (bill lapp)/Flickr