Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father-less Day to You!

Shela is twenty three and she laughs nervously when she talks and uses her hands to emphasize her stories. She says she never met her father or maybe she did (nervous laughter) but anyways if she did she was an infant and doesn't remember. She has another baby on the way and says her new boyfriend the second babies daddy is a great guy. She hopes he might ask her to marry him soon. She looks out the window as a small two year old plays with toy cars at her feet. She rubs her belly and smiles and repeats "yah this baby is going to be different now that we are all a family." Half convincing herself and half sheer hopefulness she laughs and asks "What about you? Did you have a great childhood?" I lean back in the puffy leather chair in the waiting room and glance over at the man bent forward waiting for a cue to say something. He had been sitting forward playing with his keys and hanging on our every word. He coughs and says "nobody has a good childhood." His matter-of-fact statement irritated Shela and she snaps "that's not true lots of people have good relationships with their parents!" Josh introduces himself to me and tells me he has a daughter that he visits when he can because babies mother moved away. He says he misses her and shows me a picture on his cell phone of a beautiful chubby redhead doll. He says Fathers Day "kinda sucks" because he won't see her. He doesn't talk to his own father much because his dad and him don't get eachother. His father always wanted him to be 'perfect' and Josh scratches his scruffy chin and laughs "guess I never measured up". Shela lifts her son onto her lap and says "I won't make my kids feel that way." Josh smiles "yah, me either" Then they both look at me with expressions that only mean one thing: 'your turn'. I shift uncomfortably and glance out the window as a only classic mustang goes driving by. I decide after a moment to offer these two strangers the truth, after all, hadn't they just opened up some honesty of thier own. Shela pressed "so what are you doing for fathers day?" It was such an innocent question as if someone asked "how was your day" but it felt like a doctor just walked in and told me I had a week to live. Josh leaned forward closer almost as if there was some sort of plack written on my face. "Nothing. I do nothing on Fathers day for the past eight or so years." Josh assumes my father has passed and offers his sympathy but I mimick Shela and laugh nervously. I say out loud the truth. Somehow I actually visualize the words coming out of my mouth and I want to pull them back in and shove them away where they can remain dormant and secret. My own little secret sad story just like theirs - only not real because I didn't share it. Too late. The words came out and the simple truth came out an emotionless lie so these strangers didn't feel sorry for me. "I haven't heard mybfathers voice in over five years. He's alive and I hear doing well but we don't talk. He has children and grandchildren that live near him so he's pretty busy which is fine because I'm busy too. I know he loves me though... I think he does... No,no I'm pretty sure he does. Anyways it's not that big a deal. Not really." lies. Lies to a room full of strangers. I didn't realize a tear came out till Shela touched my arm. It's a strange thing when someone you barely know sits quietly with you and allows you to lie. Josh sighs "yah like I said... Fathers Day just sucks!" Three strangers laugh in a stark mismatched lobby. As I get up to leave Shela waves "happy father-less day to you!" I smile and say "and happy fatherless day to you too!"

No comments: