Shut up Sir Charles (at least about this)

I talk pretty openly about my life. From the relationship I had with my awesome mother to the man who chose to be my Father in 1986, from my Little Red and the boys to the job I love, I am an open book about most things. After all, when it is good to be you, you like to share the reasons why with the world, right? So I do. And I hope you enjoy. But this blog, as I have always stated, is a recording of my thoughts in the moment. I write them down so I can reflect back on where I have been, and see the path more clearly. And today, when I heard something on TV that sparked anger in me, I knew I had to write about it tonight.

When I was a little guy, and by little I mean 4 or 5, I can distinctly remember my being spanked with a switch by my Papaw. He had warned my sister, my uncle, and I not to make another peep at the dinner table. And I looked right at him and said "Peep." This mountain of a man took the switch my Mamaw always had in the window sill over the sink and let me have it. It hurt. I cried. I was supposed to cry. And I have never, to this day, disrespected that man again. Lesson learned.

Now I will tell you a different story. And while a lot of the full version has been blocked out in my head, I remember specific moments like they happened yesterday during what was a very dark time for my family.

I was 6 when she married him. No, not my dad, but Jeff Jenny. He was like the father I never wanted. It was not long after we moved into a red house in Sardinia, Ohio that the terror began. This man was a raging alcoholic, and this man took all of his drunken hatred out on my sister and my myself for the most part. I don't remember him beating Josh until a couple years later, but he was an awful big fan of this one particular belt. Woven with denim and leather, it felt like a whip on your bare butt. Or back. Or whatever part of you he got. It left welts. It made us bleed. He is darn lucky I don't bruise. And it happened every day, whether we did something wrong or not. He would get us when he got home from work for "whatever we think we got away with that day". And the beatings were just the beginning.

He stepped on a model car I took months to build because my room was not clean He ran over my bicycle very intentionally. I had knocked over his motorcycle two days before by accident and, while he was surprisingly cool about it the day it happened, two days later in a drunken rage he made me lay my little brown bike (the one my Mom had bought for me) in front of his truck and destroyed it. And he punched me in the chest so hard I lost my breath because I told him I did not want him to hit me anymore because he was a drunk.I was 11.

I could go on and on, about the cases of beer he drank while we were in the truck with him, or about how I would wait to get out of bed in the mornings til I heard his truck or motorcycle leave. And I will not even get into the most terrible things because, frankly, they are moments I would just as soon not relive. And I am sure my siblings feel the same way.

However, I shared that with you so you can understand what got me very angry today.

I was watching the NFL today on CBS today, before my Bengals whooped the Dirty Birds from Atlanta 24-10. My all time favorite NFL player, Boomer Esiason, made a very strong statement regarding Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who was indicted on child abuse charges this week. Peterson is accused of beating his son with a switch, making him bleed and leaving bruises and welts. His son is 4 years old. Boomer said that this man should never be allowed on a football field again. And I agreed with him.

I then listened to NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkeley disagree with Esiason's take. He explained that, like him, Peterson is a "Southern Black Man, who was raised this way, and that no one else would know how that feels. It is not child abuse and we should leave him alone". My jaw dropped, and I actually said "Excuse me?" to the TV. And my memories took me back to the story you just read above.

My first question was why does it matter if he is Black, White, or Other? And why does it matter if he is Southern? I got the crap beat out of me for 5 years straight, and I am a white boy from Ohio. So where do you get off, Mr. Barkeley, telling me and the rest of America that because this piece of crap is from Texas and a black man, that it is ok? Shame on you. And shame on everyone on that set, including Esiason, for not calling him out on that load of garbage on the spot.

There is a line between discipline and abuse, and Adrian Peterson jumped over it with two feet. Do you know how I know that? Not just because the police filed charges. Even though, from what you said, this must have been a severe case if southern cops arrested him since it is common for this behavior there. No, the way I know crossed that line is because, like all of America, I have seen the photos. And the pictures of those bruises and cuts and welts didn't look like what happened when my Ironman of a Grandpa tanned my rear end for saying peep. No, they were a lot closer to the marks left on us kids at the hands of Jeffrey Paul Jenny for merely existing in the early 80's. So shut up and go back to talking NBA you obnoxious blowhard. Because that man should be no one's role model ever again.

Day # 559. I am so incredibly blessed that my Mother got us out of there and married my Dad, who was that monster's polar opposite. It was, and continues to be, good to be me!


  1. Thank you for your candor and honesty. You are a good man and I am so very proud of who you are!


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