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?)