Monthly Archives: October 2011
After I stood up to Daddy and walked away from him that Saturday afternoon it would be another year before I’d speak to him again. During that year I continued with my life. As upset as I was about what had happened, I couldn’t focus on it too long or it would stifle me. Meanwhile, I was Jewish so of course I thought about it a lot and asked myself the what ifs but, regardless I had to continue to move forward. I was used to having to do that and sadly, it was going to be my normal until I was ready to totally break free from Daddy. I supposed that was where I had the power but I just couldn’t do it.
It was ironic that I couldn’t find the strength to leave that chaotic side of my life but I did have the strength to continue with college and taking care of myself. I was proud that I never stooped to Daddy’s “Whoa is me so therefor you owe me” philosophy. The only person I felt should have given me something was Daddy. And all I wanted from him was the love and protection of a father. Oh and I wanted back the money he owed me. I’d have to come to terms with the fact he was incapable of giving me what I needed including the money he borrowed from me. However, I’d learn that from many, many hard lessons still to come.
Listen, I have to tell you a lot of good things happened that year I didn’t speak to Daddy. Even though I’d obsess over wanting that father/daughter relationship, I felt free during that time. No guilt trips and no sense of obligation except to myself. You’d have thought I would have had a clue and would have jumped off the Daddy marry go round. But, I was always hoping Daddy would change.
So anyway, that year I finally declared a major in fine art (even to the dismay of others who wondered how in the hell I’d make a living from it). For me though I needed those classes and thank G-d for the professors I had who allowed me to use my class projects as a way to work through the loss of my mom and my own fears about breast cancer. It really was a time I used my art for therapeutic reasons but I wasn’t cognizant that was what I was doing. It allowed me to hammer through a lot of issues even though it would be years down the road before I could let go of my anger. It was a pivotal year for me. And even though those close to me felt I was making a mistake by declaring art as my major, it was what I needed at the time. Also, that year I had three solid jobs which I enjoyed And they gave me some security financially. Added to those my adopted parents were still there for me which gave me emotional security. If I had a problem or was lonely, they were always available. Then, there were the friends I made in my classes. I had felt isolated for so long by Daddy. It was great to have friends again. I hadn’t realized how much I missed that socialization.
That year away from Daddy my sister and I started talking again. Even though our conversations were guarded, it was a a good beginning. We had many lost years and the amount of distrust that grew over that time wasn’t going to dissipate overnight.
Those twelve months brought many positive things my way and I was for the most part happy. Of course Daddy had left me a legacy to focus on what I didn’t have (which I did) but I knew deep down my life was rich and most of all, I was incredibly lucky to have my adopted family and the family who allowed me to stay in their garage apartment. I truly grew to love both of those families. So, to take a line from a Frank Sinatra song, ‘It was a very good year.’
The only thing I regretted that year was not having a car. I knew it was best I no longer had Daddy’s car because of the many strings attached, however, it did make it harder for me. Here was the thing. I never minded walking and would walk at the drop of the hat to get anywhere I needed to go. It was just during those times when it was SO hot or too cold or rainy or I was just tired. At those times having a car would have been nice. I also accepted a job in an area of town that made me a little scared. Walking there during the daytime wasn’t so bad but night time really concerned me. Even though I said I wouldn’t take a job with the idea of having Daddy’s car, I did take this one anyway with the hopes I’d have it. I figured I would deal with the problem of not having a car when it came. And so it came.
Listen, it was a job I really wanted. I taught art to neighborhood kids and I loved it. But, I hadn’t thought about what I’d do if and when Daddy took his car back. It was amazing how things worked out. Before going to this job I spent a lot of my time in the college’s art studios doing my work. I always hoped someone would be there when I was, so I could ask them for a ride. I had a rule to never ask someone more than twice for a ride I didn’t want to inconvenience them. Needless to say, I broke my own rule when I asked this woman who was in my painting class for a ride every week. She was in the studio at the same time as I was and even though she was weird, I enjoyed her company. OK, here was the truth. I was very lonely. I hated going home to my apartment and being alone. I craved people. Knowing she would be in the studio, I often went there instead of going home. Honestly, I think I annoyed the shit out of her at first because I went to the studio to socialize. She liked it quiet while she painted. Often, soon after I’d get there, she’d decide to quit painting and go home. You know, I never thought that she was leaving because of me. Instead, I thought her leaving was great timing so maybe she could drop me off at work on her way home.
And so, I would ask her for a ride. She never said no. I tried to offer her gas money but she’d never take it. She always said it was on her way. Sometimes she’d let me buy her lunch or dinner as my way of thanking her. So, I have to tell you this. She drove the biggest damn car I had ever seen. It was a solid steel tank that was some model car from the 1970’s. When she gave me a ride and she drove down one of the city’s narrow roads, I would be SO nervous she was going to hit either the curb or the car next to her. She once noticed that I’d hold the car door while she drove. She thought that was funny. Ha, ha. I was just looking after myself.
I’ll never forget the first time she gave me a ride. We were walking out to the parking lot to go to her car. I’ve got to tell you I think the only reason she stayed late in the college studio was because there was no way in hell she could have gotten into her car when someone parked next to her. Her doors were huge and she needed room to open them. Anyway, when we got into her car I looked around. It reminded me of Momma’s Pontiac with the hand crank window handles and the one long front seat. I did secretly like the reverse gear handle thingy on the steering wheel. That gave me warm fuzzy’s of my childhood when I would stand up in the front seat while Momma was driving.
OK, so there I am sitting in her tank, I mean car when she started the ignition. OMG! I thought we were going to blast off into space with as loud as the engine was and how much the car shook. I know I’ve never had the experience of going into space but her car felt like I would imagine it. It was incredibly ironic that her car was so big and loud and yet she was (I felt) painfully quiet and timid. She appeared to not want to be noticed. And when she spoke, I could never hear her and always had to ask her to speak up. At times I got so frustrated with asking her to speak up, I just kept on talking as if I knew what she had said. Aside from her quiet demeanor and her gargantuan car, you should have seen how she dressed. OY! Not that it has anything to do with my story but what the hell. It’s my story. She’d wear these great, big 1980’s glasses and her clothes seemed to be from that time period too. People, it was already 1995! Which now I realize wasn’t that far from the 80‘s but at the time it felt ancient, OK?
Anyway, once she came to class in a dress and I couldn’t stop staring at her. She walked like a football player when she wore a dress so it was really weird to see her in one. Well, honestly, I’ve never seen a football player in a dress, but I was guessing they’d walk just like her! It was weird she’d wear one because it just didn’t seem natural to her. Because she appeared gay to me I was trying to figure out if she was. Gosh, I thought gay women didn’t wear dresses so her wearing a dress totally threw me. Sorry, I wasn’t well versed at the time on gay culture.
Even though she dressed funny, seemed a little odd, looked like she might be gay and spoke at a whisper, it didn’t matter to me. Listen, I wore the same damn shirt to class and if I got paint on it, I just turned it inside out. So, I wasn’t one to talk about fashion. And the bottom line was I enjoyed her company and quirkiness. We would have long philosophical conversations on an array of topics and we’d comfortably challenge each other’s views. I felt comfortable around her. I had never felt so “at home” with anyone else. The other thing was she was a great painter. Somehow, I sensed she had that skill on the first day of class when I first met her. And that’s why I chose to put my painting station right slap dab next to hers. For one I had high hopes she’d help me with my paintings. OK, so I actually had high hopes she’d just paint my paintings for me but that never happened as the proof was in the pudding of my horrible paintings. I never knew until later that she hated my painting station next to hers. When she’d come to class I’d often be sitting at her painting station. And between you and me I had a little problem borrowing a few of her supplies at times when I ran out. She later expressed how annoyed she was with my boundary issues or there lack of but in spite of it, we still were able to develop a good friendship. As much as I claimed to be intrigued by her what I didn’t want to admit was that in actuality I was falling in love with her. But, that’s for another chapter.
So, back to my frustration with not having a car. There were times I’d feel cooped up and trapped in my apartment. I often wished I could just run out for a scoop of ice cream or to a store just to be around other people. However, I really couldn’t complain. I was incredibly lucky that those times really weren’t too often. It was nice to babysit and have that time away. Also, when my adopted parents were out of town, they’d let me use one of their cars. In exchange I’d check their mail and get their newspaper. There were times I’d stay at their house with their two sons to help them out. I loved those times. I loved their company. One of the times I was staying there the middle son wanted to rent a movie and order a pizza. His younger brother and I thought that sounded good until I saw the movie he picked out. The younger brother was excited to see the movie but I wasn’t as thrilled at all. Now, the older son was about 16 and the younger was 11 or 12. I can’t remember exactly. But anyway, the older brother chose “Silence of the Lambs”. He told us he heard it was a good movie but it didn’t matter to me because I knew it was going to be scary. I’m not sure how I was convinced but I agreed to watch the movie with them. So while we were waiting for the pizza to be delivered, we started watching the movie. It wasn’t long into the movie before I had my hand in front of my face as I kept peaking out in between two fingers to see what was happening. The boys would get frustrated with me because I would yell at the TV telling one of the characters what she needed to do. And if I screamed or jumped, it made the boys jump. Oh, they hated when I did that. I guess you could say I was an active movie watcher.
Holy Moly! By the time the pizza arrived, the thought of eating it made us sick. The combination of eating pizza while watching that movie was a bad idea. The movie was very intense to say the least and I was not a happy camper when it was over. I was scared to death but I was supposed to be the “adult”. OK, people, I was 24 and I was just as scared as the younger son. The younger son wanted everyone to sleep in the same room because we were so scared. I thought he had made a great suggestion but the older son wouldn’t go for it. He even laughed at us. OK, he mostly laughed at me but I wasn’t ashamed to say I was scared shitless. I was thankful the younger son “begged” me to sleep in his room in his other single bed. Listen folks, I was entrusted to assure the safety of the boys. It was my duty to make sure the younger son felt safe.
Once the younger son and I were done with our bedtime routine (which was cut a bit short since we were afraid to be in the bathroom by ourselves for too long) we got into our respective beds in his room. Of course I got the bed right by the door. Anyway, once we settled into our beds we started to hear strange noises. I knew that was going to happen. We tried to ignore them. I kept telling myself that I was the “adult”. I was determined to get a hold of my fears and be brave. I felt like the cowardly lion on the Wizard of Oz trying to convince myself to be brave. Well, I can’t say that worked because the next strange sound I heard, I screamed. And before I finished screaming the younger son had jumped into my bed and pulled the covers over his head. I couldn’t believe h slept that way all night. Sure, it’s funny now but it wasn’t then.
Also, during that same time I was staying there the older son got mad that I got to drive his dad’s car. He kept fussing at me that he had to drive the old station wagon and that wasn’t fair. When I told him it was because his dad’s car was a stick shift which he didn’t know how to drive, he told me it was double unfair. But, he was laughing when he said that last part. But here was the thing about his dad’s car. I remember having to contain my excitement to be able to drive it. For one I enjoyed driving a stick shift. But even better than that he coolest thing was… are you ready for this? The dad had a sun roof! OK, well I thought it was way awesome. I didn’t care how cold it was outside either. I was going to open it. Yeah, well, that lasted maybe 5 minutes because yeah, well, it was too cold. But, can I tell you how cool I thought I was in that car? The funny thing was I drove like an old lady, so I can’t imagine how cool I actually looked. However, I had a great imagination and I felt cool in it. Funny, how we think those things and years later we realize how funny we were.
Alright well, that time period of me not talking to Daddy was over when I received a call from my sister one afternoon. It was around 1995 and she had gotten a call from my dad’s middle brother telling her that their older brother had died. Since no one but me knew how to reach Daddy because he was paranoid for anyone to have his “personal information”, I was the only one who could contact him with the news. After not speaking to him for so long I had no idea how he’d respond to me calling let alone how he’d respond to his brother dying. As I picked up the phone to call him I instinctively reverted into “Daddy Method of Thinking” as if no time had passed. I was rolling the dice as to his mood that day. What would it be?
OMG! I will never forget that day I called him. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I was nervous and scared. I didn’t want a fight. I knew at that point life was easier when he wasn’t in it. I hated to admit that but it was so true. There was no drama, heart ache and most of all there were NO G-D DAMN GAMES! I HATED those games where Daddy was the one who held the ever changing rules sheet that could never be confirmed because it was never written down or because it fell into the toilet while he was showering but even so, he had a good excuse why that rule would have changed anyway so there was never a need for that hard copy. Sorry, I just had to get that off of my chest.
So, I go to call Daddy and when he answered his phone, I said, “Hey, Daddy.” That was usually what I said and then I’d usually wait for his response which would tell me his mood. Now remember, if he was in a good mood, the good mood could go away in an instance. I had to walk on eggshells during an entire conversation. And if he was in a bad mood, well, there usually was no hope of having a sane conversation. I was used to having a choice of two responses. One where he’d say, “Hey, sweetie. How are you?” which was always a good start or “Yeah and so it took you this long to call me?” which was never good.
I have got to tell you. I was NOT prepared for the answer I got when Daddy answered the phone that day. He apparently didn’t recognize my voice. I guess it was dumb of me to have thought by calling him Daddy, he’d have had a clue who was on the line. After all, I only knew of him having two kids who would possibly be calling him by that title. But, guess what? Not even saying “Daddy” triggered in his mind who it was. Instead, he said,”Hey, my beautiful Sara.” Then, he starts to say love-ee dovee things to which I immediately responded, “No, Daddy, it’s me!” It was obvious he had confused me with one of his girlfriends who I guess called him Daddy too? Oh, that’s gross! Nor did I want to hear what Daddy was going to say to her, I mean what he was going to say to me thinking I was her. OY! You know what I mean. Just as I said, “Daddy” and was going to tell him it was his daughter, MaLea, he interrupted by saying, “I’m so sorry, I thought you were someone else. I let out a sigh of relief when he finally realized it was me or so I thought because he then proceeded to call me by another woman’s name but this time in the form of a question. What the hell? Now he has two girlfriends who refer to him as “Daddy?” That was double gross. I was so disgusted that I blurted, “Daddy, it’s me. It’s your daughter, MaLea.” I just knew that would clear it all up. After all, I said my name.
Daddy responded by saying, “Sorry, who is this?” Holy crap! Were you kidding me? He named me for G-d sake! How many MaLea’s were out there? And the fact he couldn’t recognize my name or voice! What the hell? I didn’t even want to know what he could have been doing to be so distracted. My dad was a man slut! And I sure as hell had no desire being on the other end of the phone with him thinking I was one of his chickie’s! So, I yelled, “Damnit Daddy, it’s your daughter, Maaaa Leeeeeeeee aaaaah!” I could hear panic in his voice as he was trying to figure out who the hell I was. Then the light bulb finally clicked and he said, “Ohhhh! Well, G-d Damnit, can’t you speak up? You were mumbling I couldn’t understand you. I wasn’t expecting you to call. I was actually expecting someone else to call.” To which I answered, ”Well, that was obvious. I see you are dating a younger crowd now since they call you Daddy too.” Luckily, Daddy didn’t have a clue as to what I meant. Finally, when we established it was me on the phone which took F-O-R-E-V-E-R, I finally was able to tell him the news about his brother. Daddy’s response was cold and distant at first but then he got angry that his middle brother hadn’t called him. When I responded by telling him that no one had his phone number because it basically was unlisted, he hit the roof with anger. I guess you could say I hit a nerve.
OK, people! News flash. Here’s something about Daddy y’all didn’t know but I have a feeling you won’t be surprised. Daddy had a home phone number that was listed but there was a twist. It was listed under our dead mother’s maiden name. But, there’s another catch.. See, because Daddy gave the phone company Momma’s wrong middle initial, it was listed with her common first name, the wrong middle initial and her very common maiden name. There was no way any family member would have been able to have guessed what name Daddy’s number was listed under. And by the way wasn’t that the point? Only I was privy to the way his number was listed and G-d help me if I told anyone. It was TOP, TOP SECRET. And if I had told someone then, the secret code would have been out and Daddy would have to go into hiding immediately. I’m thinking, if the Mossad really, really wanted to find Daddy, I seriously doubt they would have needed the phone book. According to Daddy, they just knew things. So, what the hell? It shouldn’t have mattered anyway. Now, I bet you’re asking why didn’t Daddy just have an unlisted number? Well, that’s a damn good question. And the answer was…..well, his answer was, “I can’t have anyone think I have an unlisted number. That’s not safe.” So, there you have your answer. Listen, I never said it was an answer that would make sense. Come on- it was Daddy. After all of these chapters, I’m thinking you’ve had some experience in “The Daddy’s Method of Thinking.”
It didn’t matter to Daddy that his middle brother couldn’t find his home number. Daddy was mad they didn’t go through the trouble to look up his office number which was listed and under his correct name. Now here’s another thing. First of all, over the years more often than not, Daddy lived in the same space as his office. So, what the hell? He never wanted to be found but holy crap, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. But by 1995 he had basically retired and he had an answering machine at an attorney friend’s office nearly 45 minutes away. His business was listed but he hardly ever checked his machine nor went to his friend’s office. So, there he was yelling at me. What nerve they had not calling him to tell him! How dare they call his daughter to give the news! How dare that daughter relay the news to his other daughter to give to him! Then, he has an excuse to be angry at his brother, mother, daughter, cousins, aunts, uncles….what the hell….I just thought I’d throw the entire family in the pot because it didn’t take Daddy long to have a reason why he was pissed at everyone. And just like Daddy to shoot the messengers.
I clearly remember sitting on the floor of my apartment thinking if I had been dreaming because the entire conversation with Daddy that day was totally crazy. I’m guessing because an entire year had passed since I last spoke to him, I was able to notice the total absurdity of the entire conversation. As Daddy was yelling over the phone as to why it was wrong his brother hadn’t called him and as he began telling stories from 40 years back to justify why “they” did him wrong, I started to occupy myself by ooking out my window. I saw several big crows landing on the tree tops. They seemed to have been saying to each other, “Uh Uh (another way to say no).” It made me laugh as I imagined they were talking to me. In my mind I said to those crows, “Can you believe I have been on this phone for 45 minutes and at least 10 minutes of it was Daddy trying to figure out which girlfriend I was?” The crows timing was impeccable as they responded at just the right time by saying, “Uh, UH.” They made me laugh. One of the crows decided to get a better look and landed on my window sill. I watched him as he seemed to have been watching me. I wondered if that crow could speak if he would have been able to give me a bit of good advice. The crow had a beautiful blue tint to his feathers and his big brown eyes seemed to be that of an old soul. Maybe, it was Momma watching over me. Or maybe it was another relative wanting to offer their support. My daydream was interrupted. Nope, it wasn’t interrupted by Daddy. Aw, hell, he was still telling stories from the 1960’s so he had another 30 years to go before he possibly could have been finished. Would you have believed I was interrupted by the damn crow who by this point was hitting my window with his wings as he seemed to be trying to fly away. I stood up from the floor. I was worried about him. While on the phone and as Daddy had moved into his sob family stories from the 1970’s I walked closer to the window to watch the crow. He turned away from me. I couldn’t imagine what was wrong. Was he wasn’t trying to fly away? Was he hurt? What was he doing if he was alright? Maybe he really did want to tell me something important or profound. And just as I had that thought, it was as if a torpedo hit the window. I screamed, accidentally placed the phone on the receiver and while trying to jump backwards away from the window, I fell smack dab on my ass. At first I sat there shocked. I was certain that bird had busted the window. What did he do? Could he have kicked the window?
I stood up and as I walked towards the window I was relieved to see it was still intact. But, what happened? When I walked closer to the window and got a better look at what the bird had done, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I laughed so hard I found myself back on the floor. Would you believe that Crow projectile pooped all over the window and the torpedo was a actually a nut that hit the window and fell to the ground? Now, what are the chances? Irony? I’m thinking so.
Fill in the blank:
What transcends, materializes and is regained when the crow’s excrement wallops the rectangular pane of glass?
AKA: When the crow’s shit hits the window… _______________________________________. (How does this sound? It’s time to hang the shit up?)
Living on my own in the garage apartment came with mixed feelings for me. I loved living with my adopted family because it was the life I had so desperately wanted. Yet, I was excited to have my own space. I suppose living with my adopted family gave me a taste of what I was missing, so it made it hard for me to leave on an emotional level.
I remember right before my new apartment was ready, I was so nervous about moving. It was as if I was heading out on my own for the first time and I was scared. I loved living with a family and being a part of it. I hated the thought of losing it. Often when I was in “my” room (really the room of their oldest son who was away at college) I’d pretend my adopted parents were my real parents. Just thinking about the security of having those parents made me safe. Hell, I had forgotten what that felt like and realized how important it was for a child. Knowing there was a loved one out there rooting for you and caring for you was important to me and I hated that my own Dad couldn’t provide it to me. Instead, I had a father who expected his children to provide for him and to make him the center of their world. Unfortunately, no matter what we did it was never enough. Also I know for myself the more I gave to him, the more he expected. It was an exhausting never ending cycle. My sister was just able to jump ship a bit quicker than me fortunately.
I can’t even begin to tell you how I hated wasting my time thinking about what I was missing. It would only make me mourn my losses over and over again. When would I be able to just mourn it and move on? It stifled me. My brain had so much control over me. I couldn’t stop it from thinking about the very things I wanted behind me. There was something else I hated. Common for me to live my life flipping between the world I created in my head and the one that actually existed, it was difficult for me to delineate between the two. And yet to be honest I really wasn’t so sure my world of reality was so real either. Until I left Daddy I wasn’t able to see that my mentality was the same as his. Or should I say he beat a way of thinking into me that I have spent a lifetime trying to get rid of it. And not knowing what was good or bad because everything Daddy taught us was falsified and embellished, I had no way of knowing what behavior or thoughts to throw out. I will never know if he intensionally lied about every G-d damn thing or if he actually believed what he said, but regardless what a bastard he was to pass it to his children. Looking back and speaking to my sister he really told some doozies that I found very hard to believe he didn’t know what he was saying. Sadly though, it would take me years to see that truth and even many more years to undo that way of thinking. He left me a legacy of always having to rethink situations and events. Interpreting situations like him meant to do so in a crazy, convoluted way. I called it, “The Daddy’s Method of thinking”. I have many examples of the “Daddy’s Method of thinking” throughout my chapters. You know, his interpretations of an event really were fucked up and just not with in this world. And if the situation didn’t turn out as he wanted or with him as the main focus, the it meant nobody loved him. Because, don’t you know if we loved him, we would have done as he wanted? OY!
So,OK, here’s just another situation of “Daddy’s Method of thinking”. I had been living in my new apartment for a couple of years when Daddy called to tell me he was going to let me borrow one of his cars. He had gotten a Lincoln and had his old Ford LTD he wanted me to use. He told me he couldn’t drive both cars, so I could use his Ford LTD. Well, of course I was suspicious because well, you know, I never knew what strings were attached to the deal. As I’ve said, he just didn’t do something without getting a return from it. However, he did intimate he had a new girlfriend who had encouraged him to do something nice for me. That same one laughed when she saw Daddy had two cars, so maybe that was how the idea of giving me one of them came about.
When Daddy offered the car to me I told him I had no money for the insurance nor could I afford to pay for any repairs on the car. I told him I didn’t want to seem ungrateful but I had to think about worse case scenarios and if I could afford them. I suppose that day he offered the car to me he was a good and generous mood because he agreed he’d take care of the insurance and any repairs the car may need in the future. Listen, I had been burned once. I knew there was a very high risk in using his car. But, I looked at it this way. I would not plan taking any job around having a car. I would always make sure the job was accessible by foot or bus. I would view the car as a perk until it went away. And as long as my name wasn’t on the car title or on the insurance, I could walk away from it at anytime.
So, Daddy let me use the car. It was nice to be able to drive to the laundry mat. Oy! Try walking a mile to the laundry mat with bags of dirty clothes. Typically, I couldn’t carry all of it, so I would only take a backpack full. And then their was being able to go to the grocery store. Wow! It was so nice to not have to buy a small amount at a time because that was all I could carry. Then, more than anything there were those times I could work in the school ceramics studio late at night and not have to worry about walking home in the dark. As much as I relished having the car it was always in the back of my mind it would be taken away at any moment. Isn’t that so sad I automatically had to think that way about my own Dad? I hated not trusting him but that was his track record.
Well, when I had Daddy’s car, he’d call me a good bit. Sometimes he’d call to see how I was doing (usually when he had been rejected by a girlfriend and he was lonely) and other times he had a check list of important information he needed to give me. It usually was where this was or that was for me to find if he died. It all depended on his mental state at the time as to the direction of the conversation. Listen people, for a while there Daddy thought the Mossad was after him. Yes, he thought the Israeli secret service was after him. He was certain of it too. He thought his phones were tapped and they were watching him around the clock. Meanwhile, he could never tell me why he thought they were. It was just his gut feeling which according to him was never wrong. Yeah, I know. I think his gut may have been a bissel mashugunah by that point.
Anyway, one Saturday morning he called and asked me if I had a moment to go to his apartment. He said he needed to talk to me. It was always a production with him. And G-d forbid he do it over the phone because the Mossad may over hear him. OK, sorry. I know it’s not funny but really? I think the Mossad had more pressing business like maybe, um, let me think, THE TERRORISTS WANTING TO BLOW UP THE STATE OF ISRAEL, maybe!? Alright, I just had to get that off my chest. So, I told Daddy I could come the next afternoon. He told me it was really important and asked if I could come that day. Because I didn’t have to babysit that evening had made plans to go to a movie with a friend. I figured it would be best to head over to Daddy’s by noon so that it would give me plenty of time for him to talk to me and for mr to go home to get ready for the movie. See, here was the thing. There never was such thing as spending a little time with Daddy. He would absorb a shit load of your time. So, I would have to build in that time to make sure I wasn’t ever late. But, we ain’t talking about adding an extra 30 minutes. No! I’d have to add extra hours!
OK, so right before I left for Daddy’s apartment I received a call from the wife who owned my garage apartment. She wanted to see if their was anyway I could babysit for her that day from 2 that afternoon to 4. Here was the situation. Because of the wonderful living arrangement I had I had promised myself to never turn her down as long as I didn’t have a school obligation or another job obligation. I felt I owed that to the family. Plus, I loved their little girl. So, I told her I would babysit. I was just a little nervous because I hadn’t built in that time. That meant I would have to make my time with Daddy short. Here’s the crazy part. If I got to Daddy’s by noon and needed to leave by 1:30, would you believe he considered that a short amount of time? I knew by accepting the babysitting that day I’d be taking a risk with Daddy. It would solely depend on his mood as to whether he’d hit the roof or be understanding I needed to leave.
It was around 11:30 that Saturday morning that I headed over to Daddy’s place. I knew I would need to tell Daddy as soon as I got there that I’d need to leave no later than 1:30. I figured that was my best bet, so he’d know upfront. And then if he was in a mood I would have time to get home even if I had to walk back home.
The fact that Daddy was well aware of my arrangement he knew when I said I had to babysit, it was my priority and it was imperative I not be late. But, the question of the day was…can I have a drum roll please? The question of the day was, “What would Daddy’s mood be?” Remember, there never was an in-between nor could he ever be upset about something for just a minute. Oh no! He’d spend hours yelling about it. Here was the tricky part. If he was in a good mood at the moment he said hello to you, you had a chance. Now, his mood could go sour in second, so it was crucial to be on your toes the best you could. Even that was a difficult challenge. But, if he was in a bad mood the moment he said hello to you, forget it. You didn’t have a chance in he’ll. Sadly, if I looked at it all statistically, Daddy was in a BAD mood 98% of the time, so I wasn’t faring too well on my chances. But, I kept thinking positively hoping it would all work out in a copacetic manner.
When I arrived I walked up the metal flight of stairs to his apartment and rang his doorbell. He didn’t answer. I waited a few minutes just in case he was in the bathroom but when I didn’t hear him, I rang it again. When he still didn’t answer the door, I waited. Yeah, I know. That was dumb. But, I knew it would have been a no win situation whether I stayed or left. I must have waited a good 30 minutes when he finally opened the door. And of course, I was still there. STUPID ME! I know, I know.
So, want to guess his mood when he answered the door? And the winner goes to the lady in red who answered, “He was pissed!” Good answer! Well, he was pissed because I rang his doorbell too many times. That’s right. Daddy had a rule for that too. However, how many was too many was your guess on any given day. When he motioned for me to come inside and once I did, he angrily told me how rude I was to ring his doorbell so often. He wasn’t a happy camper when I told him that I had only rung it twice. He was furious because he was on the phone with a very important call. And because I was ringing the doorbell I screwed up the call. I thought how that was even possible. What a crazy thing to say! Needless to say, I knew that visit was going to be an interesting visit. Daddy told me to sit down. As I did I went ahead and told him I had to leave no later than 1:30 because I had to babysit. He was so angry that I was “choosing to limit my time with him and forcing him to talk to me with in a certain amount of time I dictating.” He was angry I had not told him I had to babysit when he first called me about coming over. When I told him I had just gotten the call before I left to come to him, he said,”Oh, I get it. That’s how much I mean to you. It’s more important to help a stranger than to help your own father. I get it now.”
First of all, I thought, “Help him how?” I was coming over to talk and I have commitments I have to keep. Daddy knew about my living arrangements so it was no surprise to him that babysitting took precedence. I could see Daddy was getting angrier and angrier. A normal person would have left at that point. However, I knew if I did, he would have taken the car and I would have had to figure out a way home. So, I really was trying to appease him anyway I could so I could leave amicably.
Alright so I may have seen the car as temporary, but I made the grave mistake of not preparing and keeping from being in the very situation I found myself in that Saturday afternoon. I knew If I couldn’t calm him down by the time I needed to leave, I was terrified I would be stranded without having a way back home to babysit. I hated that I had not been one step ahead of him to assure I wouldn’t have been stuck. I just knew I was screwed! I could see it coming.
Daddy started yelling at me. He said if I cared about his well being I would have put him before babysitting. As he continued to go on and on, I began brainstorming on the friends I could call to get a ride home. That was my priority, so I could just leave and not have to sit there any longer. But, as I was thinking of who I could call for a ride I was interrupted when a pillow hit my head. I remember looking straight into Daddy’s eyes and telling him that was not acceptable. I knew it was time for me to leave, so I stood up. I also knew the next thing he’d throw may not be as soft. Daddy was way beyond the point of return and I knew I didn’t need to take anymore. I told him it would be best for me to come back when he had calmed down. Just as I said that he stood up and yelled, “OK, Miss smart ass! Like hell do you tell me to calm down! You may have forgotten but I am your father and you are to show me respect. You don’t EVER tell me to calm down!” By this point his eyes were bulging out from their sockets and the intensity of his anger was too reminiscent of times past. The difference was this time knew I had a choice to leave. And even though it took me maybe a little bit longer to leave than someone else, it still took a lot of strength for me to walk out when I did. As I walked to the door to leave Daddy gave me an ultimatum. He yelled,”If you choose to walk out that door instead of staying here and helping me, then you can just give me my fucking car back. By leaving you are telling me you care more about yourself than your own father. And by leaving you are telling me you don’t love me. The reason you even have a car is because of me! I refused to be taken advantage of and mistreated by you any longer! So, it’s your choice.”
I remember standing there totally taken a back by the craziness of his ultimatum. I even gave a chuckled and said, “Daddy, I cannot believe you are this angry over me going to babysit. I am not choosing one or the other. I have an obligation I must uphold. Having to fill that obligation does not mean I don’t love you. You are talking about apples and oranges here.” Unfortunately, there was no way for Daddy to understand and as expected he went ballistic. Holy Crap! How in the fucking hell did this come to such a ridiculous point? There was no reason for him to be that angry. But in Daddy’s world he expected to be the center of everyone’s universe. And that Saturday I seemed to have knocked him off center. Hmmmm, how apropos to call him and his vision of his world- off centered.
Anyway, while he was yelling at me, I started to walk to his front door to leave. As I did he lunged towards me to try to grab the keys to the car from my hands. He missed. I kept walking as I told him I’d be happy to make arrangements to get the car back to him after I was done babysitting that day. I knew I needed to get out of there. It was already 1:15 and I was really worried about being late. It was ironic that Daddy complained he couldn’t move very well because he had something wrong with his leg but that day it was as if there was nothing wrong with him. I’ll chuck it off to adrenaline. As I rushed down his apartment stairs and quickly walked to the car, he moved like lightening to be right behind me. When I opened the car door and started to get in, Daddy went to take a punch at me. I dunked. He missed. At that point I actually could have locked the doors and driven off. But, Daddy’s attempt to punch me really set off my anger and I couldn’t let his attempt go by without a response. I had finally had enough! I opened the car door and walked right up to Daddy’s face. He was shocked and put his arms in front of his face thinking I was going to hit him. I stood as tall as I could, I looked Daddy straight in his eyes and while pointing at him with my index finger I said with total strength and conviction, “You will not ever fucking hit me again, Daddy! You will not ever even try to fucking hit me again. I will not stand for it ever again. And if you ever try it again Daddy, you will fucking regret it. I will no longer take it anymore!” OK, folks, I’m not sure exactly what he would have regretted but it was all I could think of to say at the time. And it worked. I will never forget the look on Daddy’s face. He looked scared and shocked and remained guarded in case I did decide to hit him. Meanwhile, I never yelled or would have ever hit him. I just wanted to stand up for myself. As I took my house key off the car key ring he stood there emotionless. I gathered my few belongings from the car, handed him the keys and walked away (towards the nearest pay phone). As I was walking away I started shaking. I couldn’t believe I had finally stood up to Daddy. As good as it felt there was a part of me that couldn’t stop shaking because it was so scary to have done it. I made it to a pay phone and realized I had not one penny on me. I was so screwed! With no other option I turned the lever on the pay phone coin return. To my amazement two quarters dropped out. I couldn’t believe it! The first call I made my friend’s answering machine answered. I had one quarter left to call one more friend with the hopes they were home to give me a ride. Sure enough that friend was home and she kindly came to get me. By the time my friend pulled up, I was crying. As right as I knew I was about finally really and truly being able to stand up to Daddy, it was overwhelmingly sad. Then, my friend asked how I was able to call her. When I told her about my luck with the quarters, we both had a good laugh. And I want you to know Daddy NEVER hit me again.