Is this man my step father?  But he's the one who took care of me the most when I was young.  If Thomas is my real dad, then is Barry my fake dad?  He paid for all kinds of stuff that we needed, fixed everything but the kitchen sink (if I'm not mistaken)...the more you think about the question of labels the more complicated it gets!

If I'm confused by the issue of blood relatedness in relation to responsibility for rearing, I'm only more confused by the utter un-relatedness of Mr. Barry to me.

My family is a bunch of mixed European Whites (mostly of German, English and Italian heritage), with hodgepodge thrity year-old, sadly lacking traditions. Just talking about my immediate family - we're all type O's.  Then there's Barry, who's family is all type B, a supposedly Mongolian or Indian trait.  I almost think that by blood type alone, Barry seems to be an alien among our family (just as we are in his).  The mystery of Barry's personality is no smaller than the mystery of womanhood to men.  He's a curious mixture of greatness and oddness.


The Greatness of Barry Bennett

He's a genius.  He opens up boxes we never dare to touch, and in a short time, whatever it is sparkles with new life.  To him, these are small feats...the big projects are directing football games, feeding signals from far and near, and in the past decade or so, building broadcast trucks--projects worth millions of dollars, filled with abstruse-named equipment, and wired like an animal is wired with veins and nerves.  I've loved him like as my father, and I've hated him like a mortal enemy, but I've never thought he was anything less than a genius.

He's herculean.  He's strong as hell, period.  He scared the crap out of a small crowd at camp Mohican, when he split a massive meter-wide tree stump with one blow of an axe.  Some tasks he starts with tools, says "that's about right", and then finishes with his bare hands.  He's naturally and incredibly strong.

He's taught me to use the strength I have.  When using a crimping tool, I found myself lacking the strength to clamp all the way down.  Barry came by and said, "You have to want it."  He was smiling, because, I think we all think this sounds more like Zen than any local kind of thought.  But he was right, I decided I wanted it, and I clamped it down.

As for all that Zen, he has a guru-like quality from imitating TV.  He's a fan of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, collects all the movies, and after a couple decades of appreciation, finally went into martial arts himself.  I hear he's doing very well with it.


The Oddness of Barry Bennett

He can only get along with colleagues and kids.  If you're a colleague or a kid, you'll think you've never meet a better, more humorous and lovable guy than Barry.  But if you're an adult, a friend of a friend, somebody from the outside, he'll act completely different.  He'll often say things that leave you thinking, "are we even talking about the same subject?"  And as a member of his adopted family, I had a natural and mutual affinity with Barry, until I was somewhat "adult-like", that is, as a teenager.  Though teenagers having problems with parents is a very natural thing, the problems I had with Barry after the age of thirteen were far beyond any of that.  At fifteen I had already become extremely sensitive even to the mention of his name.  By the age of eighteen I was numb as penguin - I could finally "walk on rice paper without making a trace".  The only reason I'm on good terms with him today is that when I was twenty I became his colleague, and to my astonishment saw his best side and befriended him.  A strange though beautiful ending, isn't it?

He's apologized to me for the hell that we went through, and but really I need to apologize too.  During that period of time, that issue was a huge conundrum, a puzzle I thought that if I were only a little smarter could be solved and put away forever.  Really the two of us wanted to get along, wanted to please eachother, really wanted a good family life.  I can only complain that I'm too dull to come up with a good way to react to problems on the spot. I'm just the type to think of the best way to handle things when it's already done and over.