Maybe a year ago I talked to my father for a long time on the phone, and I told him about the things I had done in high school that he had been completely unaware of at the time. It felt like a good thing to do, because none of it mattered anymore. I told him that my brother Jeb and I had gotten drunk on Easter weekend when I was 14, and that I drank maybe five or six times after that, and that I didn’t like it because it made me feel sick. I never smoked pot during high school because the people I did know who smoked it were psychos. (Later, when I was 19, my then-girlfriend (nice) Madeleine and I would smoke a bowl on the street where I grew up, and we would listen to the Beatles (lol), and I would lean over and say to her: “Dude. Music sounds so good.” (I told my father about this too, to which he replied: “Well hey, can’t argue with that.”~))

I told him also that my friends always looked up to him and considered him to be their friend, and that they still asked about him (“How’s Hal doing?”). Sometimes they would come to him and ask him for advice about women since the dude has been married three times and, you know, will just give it to you straight. (He told my friend Kevin that if he cut his penis off, he’d be a millionaire by the time he was 30. Whoa.)

My father has this irrational fear that I suspect most half-decent parents have, which is that from time to time he wonders if he did OK. Every six months or so he’ll say: “Was I good dad to you? I feel like I wasn’t sometimes.”

And I always tell him: “Baby, please. You were a great dad.”

During that particular phone call, and before he could ask if he had done right by me, and so on, I told him again for maybe the hundredth time, I said: “For God’s sake, man, you were always good to me.”

My father tells me that he dreams about me “all the time.” When I was in my early-20s, I used to have these dreams about him where he didn’t even make an appearance. In the dream I just knew that I had disappointed him. I think I was just sitting there in a black room with this deep dread that I had upset my father. Wouldn’t a psychiatrist tell you that’s a common dream for dudes to have?? Hell, it sure sounds like it. Maybe I’m embarrassed to admit that, but there it is anyway. I never really acted out or rebelled against my father because I didn’t really need to. He was always so nice to me, and trusted me to go off and do whatever it was I did, and I reckon he seemed to respect me even though I was just some shithead jerkoff teenager with awful emo hair and way-too-tight T-shirts.

Anyway: I don’t know if my father reads this trash. My little sister told me some time ago that he’s poked around here before to check up on me, to see that I was still alive, or whatever, and had concluded that it was OK to not read any more than he needs to. Bless his little heart for that: he’s just as scared as I am to be here on this weird back alley of the internet.

BUT IF YOU DO HAPPEN TO SEE THIS: Thanks for everything, dude.

My father, who cries whenever one of his chickens dies, and who would pick me up from school in his police car when it snowed so I didn’t have to wait for the buses, and who I once witnessed sleepwalk into the kitchen at 3 a.m. to eat half a birthday cake: well, he’s one of The Good Ones. He is a fine and rare example of what our cracked species could be. I’ve never met someone who is as funny and generous and nice to people as him. Good ol Hal. What a guy.

My sister told me that she recently asked my dad why he has goats (of which he has three!). And you know what he said? He said: “Because they’re my friends.”