Holidays always bring on reminiscing, especially about those who are no longer with us. To buffer the sadness felt for their absence in one’s life, it’s often best to dwell on the good times or humorous aspects from when our loved ones were alive and well.
December 10th was my father’s birthday, making his departure from our beloved plane that much more sorrowful for me around this season. It’s been several years since he’s passed; but melancholy lingers still.
So in lieu of woefulness, I try to think of some of the funnier things that happened between us while he was around.
The other day I received an e-mail from someone out of the blue who read a story I posted about a smelly, old nun who taught me in grammar school. Come to find out, the sender of the message and I were both subjugated by the same iron maiden, only six years apart, his being my senior.
The twisted sister used a “three-sided draftsman’s scale for rapping knuckles,” as he put it, instead of a steel-edged wooden ruler used during my forced occupation in her torture chamber, just joking about the gallows there.
Such a delight to hear from a contemporary who goes back that far. So many fond memories are from back then.
To get back to my dad, I couldn’t help but think of some of the crazier moments spent with him during my last few years of grade school. I was somewhat nasty at times during that period, for which I wish things would have been different; but surely we all have had those regretful moments in life with a parent, family, relative, lover, or a friend.
The British Invasion was gripping America furiously and feverishly with a full throttle, putting peer pressure on all of us youngsters to be fashionably “Mod or Rocker,” to put it in terms of The Who. Baggy pants were considered taboo, for they signified the pantaloons of my old man, totally uncool, faux-pas, no questions asked, particularly if one was in a garage band.
I had just returned home from Sears and Roebuck, a few blocks away on Main Street in Hackensack, sporting a new pair of black pants. The saleslady at the store allowed me wear them out of the building after her making change for the ten dollars my father had provided to pay for the purchased apparel, and cutting the tags off the garment for me, putting my old jeans in a bag with the sales slip.
Talk about being on Cloud Nine while strutting on Main Street with my new duds on. Pop was in the kitchen when I entered. He gave me “The Look.” You know that look, I’m sure.
“Those pants are too tight,” he said. “I want you to take them off, put your old ones on and return the ones you’re wearing to Sears right now. And I don’t mean maybe.”
“Fuck you,” I said.
His “Look” had now turned into that of a fire-breathing dragon, prompting me to drop my old jeans and jolt out the back door while being chased up Maple Avenue toward the railroad tracks by my dad, at which point I bolted northeast toward Packard-Bambergers and out of sight, leaving my elder in the dust by at least a block away.
Two days transpired before I came home. My brother put me up. He had gotten married recently and lived across town. My father drove over there looking for me. He didn’t come in, as my mother was living there, another long story entirely.
Pop told me to come home, no harm done. He looked so sad. Those were some tough times for him as well. I felt bad for what I had said, but still wanted to keep those pants, which he let me do.
Then there was the time my friend Kelly and I fashioned a dummy by stuffing a pair of my pants with newspaper, doing the same with a shirt, and safety-pinning both garments together, tying off the arms and legs with string. We were up in my attic and threw our mischievous project out the window, while I was yelling for my buddy to stop.
My poor, unsuspecting father was sitting on the front stoop, reading his newspaper during all of this, most likely catching the ongoing fall from the corner of his eye.
“Miko,” he said with his French Canadian accent. “Are you OK?” He jumped off the stoop, ran toward where the dummy crash-landed and spewed newsprint all over the front lawn.
Man, did he give us “The Look” as Kelly and I were busting a gut, laughing hysterically upstairs. He let us slide on that one.
He was a good-hearted, good-natured man. I really miss him.
Happy holidays, best wishes for happy memories to my friends who stop by here; and happy birthday, Dad, wherever your spirit may be. Thanks for all the support.