When I was no more than five I asked my dad where he got the machete hanging on our basement wall. He then described to me the pirate adventures he had when he was a boy. The machete was his sword. I didn’t know the difference between machetes and swords, so I ate up the story. He showed me all his scars he’d received during his years as a butcher and told me how they came from knife fights with the bad guys and wrestling sharks. And he always reminded me that neverland was “second star to the right and straight on til morning.” He still quizzes me on that.
There was a good amount of time I believed those stories. But the ones from my teen years were better, and real.
When I was in Jr. High my dad volunteered to drive the church van around to the “lesser privileged” neighborhoods and pick up any of the elementary kids who wanted to come to AWANAs that night (awanas is sort of like a church based boy or girl scouts) My sister and I were ordered to sit in the back of the van with the kids and keep them calm. This was during the very early 90s when a band called Mr. Big had a hit song that was on every radio station simultaneously. So, these kids sang that song on the van rides…over and over and over. In a couple weeks time my father (who never sang ever) knew the words and would sing along with the kids. Yes, “To Be With You” is forever burned into his brain. It was hilarious.
That spring he took all the boys from the bus to a baseball game. My extended family’s business had box seats to that same game. During the seventh inning stretch my dad took the boys up to the box but they wanted nothing to do with it. It was the first game ever for many of them and they wanted to be out in their seats. I don’t blame them, there is a lot more high fiving going on in the stands.
In high school breaking curfew was punished with the following six words, “Sit down, I want to talk.” So I’d sit in that uncomfortable tufted yellow chair by the front door while my father hovered over me talking. I’m not going to lie, I don’t remember half the things he spoke about. In my mind I was recapping the nights events. When the lecture was over he’d bring out a gun, show me how to load and unload it. When it was most definitely unloaded, with the magazine on the floor he’d show me how to knock it away if someone ever held one to me. Yeah, that’s right, stay back.
Guns were always around in our home. I never took up the hobby though my father tried. If one of us three girls ever had a boy over you could bet that the guns would make an appearance. I recall once when a boyfriend was over my father simply walked past the room that he and I were watching television in with an AK-47 in his hand and a 9mm in his back pocket. There was an amused smirk on his face and he didn’t say a word.
Of course said boy had a bit of a cow. I told him to relax. “Hey, it’s not like he’s gonna shoot you.” I said. Still, I don’t think he ever came over again.
I was never really embarrassed of that. It was just Dad.
Jeep driving, boat steering, leather jacket wearing, silver haired Dad.