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Location: Midwest, United States

I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Had a Dad, Part VI

My friends liked my dad. Often he’d take me to the movies with a friend, and rather than just dropping us off and picking us up again, he’d go to the movie with us. I never minded this, and my friends never seemed to either. This was probably partly because my friends were all basically geeks like me. My bad-kid phase was very short-lived. It came to an abrupt halt when we moved from Chicago to a small city in Wisconsin, a move that struck me as the perfect time to recreate myself in a role I was more comfortable in. I had realized that I wasn’t very good at being bad. I always seemed to be the one who got caught. I would lie, then forget that lies require confident follow-up lies, but I’d forget to maintain it and give myself away. It was too much work, and I was starting to realize that many of the things I loved to do – like reading books and drawing pictures of horses – didn’t really help me fit in with the crowd of precocious ruffians I’d fallen in with. So in my new town, I quickly went back to being just a simple bookish dork, with bookish dork friends who saw no problem with my dad tagging along, even though by sixth grade all of my other friends’ parents just dropped us off at the movies and punctually returned again at the end of the show.

My dad was different than the parents of my Wisconsin geek friends, though. While some of my Chicago friends had young, hip parents along the lines of my dad, or even old, hip parents like my friend Andrea’s vegetarian chef dad and beatnik painter mom, my Wisconsin friends all had very staid, predictable parents. My dad was the “fun dad,” the “cool dad.” He made jokes that seemed funny to us at the time and enjoyed the dumb comedies we wanted to see (Airplane comes to mind, as does the Jerk). And, though we weren’t rich, he was generous with me and equally generous with my friends. He’d pay for everyone’s ticket and buy us all candy and a big tub of popcorn to share. My dad was always popular with my friends. He was charming; he made them laugh. And this was great when I was eleven or twelve, because I wanted my dad around and would’ve felt terrible if my friends hadn’t. But later, in high school and college, when conflicts between him and me became the norm and I mostly just wanted him to leave me alone, the popularity of my dad among my friends was sometimes hard for me to take. I would complain to them about how corny and embarrassing he was, how he pestered me to follow his constant advice, how he didn’t respect my privacy, and they’d just look at me in disbelief. “Your dad? But he’s so nice. He’s so funny!” I felt like there was no one I could unburden myself to with regard to my mounting dad frustrations.


Blogger Feral Mom said...

I feel on this, a least a bit, because I had "the nice mom." I still do. My mom is still really, really nice.

Dude, you drew horses??? It is a CRIME that we did not befriend one another in childhood.

9:28 PM  
Blogger E. said...

It's true. Your mom is totally nice.

Re: the horses, etc: I know! We would have definitely been soul sisters. Then we would've broken up. Then we would've grown up and started a band.

8:05 PM  

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