Friday, June 5, 2009

Meet My Dad

Everyone who knows me asks the same question: Why don't you write about your dad?

They say that because they know he's about 10 billion blog posts waiting to happen. A character so infamous he was lampooned by a Detroit TV station and became a local celebrity against his will. The alpha and omega of all my man issues. And without question the most influential person in my life.

I don't write about him primarily because I don't want to hurt his feelings. He's still alive. And I wouldn't want him to be offended if he happened to stumble across this blog.

But I really can't write the next few chapters without explaining how it is that I came to college completely messed up, an emotional wreck and a relationship disaster waiting to happen.

So you've got to meet Daddy in order to meet 19-year-old me.

In a nutshell, my dad is a bitter, frustrated genius with minimal social skills. He reads voraciously and incessantly. National Geographic. Time. Road & Track. The Detroit News (until some labor dispute pissed him off in the 80's, and he permanently switched to the Detroit Free Press).

He doodles incessantly on yellow legal pads. Not drawings. Calculations. Math formulas. Half-formed dreams of car parts he wants to design.

His house is a wreck of Oprah-esque "clean up your clutter" proportions. Magazines and periodicals stacked to the ceiling. Car parts strewn hither and thither. Nothing ever, ever thrown away. And don't forget the grime. Growing up, we were the only family on the block to have motorcycles in our living room ... and a live mushroom growing under the bathroom sink.

Then there's my dad's personal appearance. He's unkempt, bedraggled, snaggletoothed. He hasn't shaved in more than 30 years, and his sad, little, nappy beard absolutely refuses to grow. It just lays on his face in a curly tangle and hides his drop-dead-gorgeous dimples.

People who don't know him thinks he's a bum, that he's ignorant, that he's just another inner-city casualty. What they don't know is that he came from an uppity, snooty, could-almost-pass-for-white-if-the-hair-was-a-little-bit-straighter family of school teachers and administrators. That he had a somewhat privileged upbringing as the son of a school principal.

And that he basically couldn't keep a job because he knew more than his supervisors and wasn't shy about telling them so in colorful, profanity-laced language.

Growing up, everyone – and I do mean everyone – accused me of looking and acting just like him, which was the easiest way to send me into instant infuriation.

When I was in 5th grade, I wrote a short story called "I live in a madhouse" which basically summed up my take on a colorful and unusual childhood that included the weirdest dad in the entire universe and no mom.

Don't get me wrong. I have a mom. She too is alive and well.

But my dad literally stole me and my two siblings from my mom, obtained the iron-clad blessing of the Michigan Third Circuit Court and raised us as a single parent.

How in the world did that happen?!?

Easy.

My mom has bipolar disorder. And although my dad is clearly as crazy as my mom, he doesn't have the commitment papers to prove it. So he won sole custody and raised us in his cluttered Michigan madhouse, while my mom lived 500 miles away in Pennsylvania with a new husband 30 years her senior.

Life with Daddy was a trip, and it paved the way for all the trippy, sucky, yucky relationships that dotted the landscape of my 20's.

7 comments:

Nelia said...

First and foremost : You are a fabulous writer! Fabulous! I'm so glad I found your blog!

Second. Wow, chick. You've got some serious history going on. I've also noted that you've some serious strength.

I look forward to learning more about this 19 year old, fearless, young woman.

DC DIVA DATING ADVENTURES said...

Interesting. MOst women I know that have some form of daddy issues, has had or still has issues with men... I can name a ton of relatives including myself... Can't wait to see how this goes...

Retromus-ik said...

You have a story to tell, and you tell it so well. I'm intrigued to say the least. But above all, I'm glad you drew strength from all of this.

Nana said...

Wow. I guess your dad never re-married, huh? All jokes aside, it must've been hard growing up, but you seem to have passed the stage of willowing in self pity, & you grew up from this experience & are able to draw humour out of the situation. I love my dad & although I've been wanting to write a post about him in forever, I don't want him to feel... sad, bad or offended. You know, your dad seems super interesting..

Luscious Sealed Lips said...

Wow! You are still sane!

Kisses.

O.F.C.J. said...

Not to sound cliche' but, Wow! Lol. Very truthful and straightforward. This blog can help many young girls; what a good idea. Your life seems quite innteresting

P.s. I'm new on blogger, so please feel free to check out mine. Thank you!

Cheron L. Hall said...

wow.....

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