On Saturday, my sister and I took a trip to visit our dad. I haven’t seen him in about a month and not without his wife for over a year. Our plan was to enjoy each other’s company and catch up.
On the train over, we sat across from Jackie the Jamaican, a.k.a. Shakespeare. Following his form, my sister introduced herself using her nickname, and so did I. Then we enjoyed some pixy sticks (thanks Hotdog). These pixy sticks were old and the sugar was a little hard. Shakespeare asked, “Where’d you get this kool aid mon?” I explained that it’s old, whatevs. Then we learned that Shakespeare has 10 kids, all by the same baby mamma. He speaks English, French, Spanish, and Arabic, which he then began quoting from the Quran and saying, “You feel me mon. You get what I’m putting out there, mon.” We certainly do. His dreams include being a preacher and playing air piano, and then he sampled some of his songs for us. When we passed by trees and he would say, every time without fail, “Mmmm. When I see these trees they remind me of the ganga, mon. Grow wild in Jamaica.” He also shared, that he would never hit a woman out of anger. Play fighting was fine, but to hit for real was wrong. He and his wife would play fight and hit each other, but never out of anger. I wonder if she knew they were play fighting. It was fun and we all said we hoped to run into each other again, then popped off the train and went our separate ways.
We met our dad at a local watering hole. As I see my dad walking up, immediately I see that he’s colored his hair. He did have salt and pepper hair, now he had a magenta/auburn color, like a dark, deep purple-brown with read undertones. It didn’t look ridiculous, but it did look a little weird, probably just to me. It’s one of his attempts at looking younger. Another one of his attempts was Lasik. He loves showing off his “new look”. He’s worn glass all his life, since he was 15. Growing up he used to wear, what I like to call, flashy glasses. It started with odd shaped frames, cat eyes, large ovals and circles, I recall a square pair. Then he moved to colored frames. And then he fell in love with a combo of these two.
He first set eyes on his favorite frames when I was about 10. These new frames were a bright, true blue and round. Yep, perfectly round and blue, we can’t forget the blue (for the record he wanted red). They were big blue circles on his face that cleared his eyebrows and came down just above his cheeks. He wore these forever. They were no doubt ladies glasses. He said they were his clowning glasses, but he wore them all the time. He used clowning as a disguise for a lot of his behavior. It was so embarrassing having to explain to my school peers, not my friends they didn’t care, but the school peers were so cruel. And by peers, I mean the popular kids, which were never my peers. They would ask about his ridiculous glasses, “Why does your dad wear those ugly blue glasses?” then they would turn their curiosity to his other oddities. “Why does your dad wear knee high tube socks?” “Why does your dad wear pink shorts?” (mind you these shorts, hit him mid thigh because they were lady shorts), “Why does your dad wear pink shorts and knee high tube socks over sweatpants?”, “Why does your dad shave his legs and arms?”
There was no acceptable answer to any of these questions. As time went on, I had to distance myself from him, you know pretend like I didn’t know him. It was the best a coping method I could think of. Later, I would find other coping methods that would extract me from reality.
Anyways, so we hung out with him on Saturday and knocked back a few ciders. It was pretty noisy at this place and everyone’s conversations were echoing, so my dad had to take out his hearing aids. At this drinking joint there are these tacky plates hanging on the walls and ceilings. My dad starts the conversation about the plates by pointing out how handsome John Wayne was.
“Man, the Duke was one handsome guy.”
I replied with “Clint Eastwood was handsome in his day.”
My dad, “Still is handsome to some of us.” Then he points to another plate and says, “I kind of look like that French fella’.”
Sis and I turn our heads to see who he’s pointing at and its Marcel Marceau. He’s painted up like a clown, which sends chills down our backs. Chills and flashbacks. We both look at each other, mortified. Having a dad who moonlighted as a clown our entire childhood was tragically traumatizing. I don’t know if other kids with a clown parent escaped unscathed, but we sure didn’t. Clowns, balloon animals, circuses, magic tricks; they all illicit a snarl from the both of us. We’re jaded.
Back to the story. I say, “Dad, I would much rather you look like Vivien Leigh than Marcel Marceau.” And I point to the Vivien Leigh plate. Vivian is dressed in a white gown from Gone with the Wind, very theatrical.
- Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind
His face beams, “Really?”
I say emphatically, “Oh, hell yeah. I’ll take drag over clown any day.” Then I turn to my sis and ask for her vote and she seconds Vivien Leigh with a head tilt. My dad is so gitty, I can see a twinkle in his freshly Lasiked eyes.
He says, “Well you only live once, you might as well live happy.”
I beam back, “So true dad, so true. And, if dressing as Vivien Leigh is living happy, then do it.”
I know this is what he wants to hear, and I want him to know we support him being happy. No matter what he wears. (I need to find a greeting card that expresses this sentiment.)
His eyes are gleaming with anticipation and I can tell he’s deconstructing Vivien’s look. He says, “Well, the dress is no problem. I can find that at a costume shop. And, it’s great that the neckline is high. The problem I’ll have is with the makeup. I’d have to get some professional help perfecting the make-up. It took me years to get my clown make-up down.” My sister is munching away on her goat cheese pizza.
I look at my dad, “Where would you go to learn something like that?” We both shrug our shoulders. I think MAC cosmetics would help him out and not judge. I’ll have to call them. Maybe this will be our next outing; I’ll have to build up to that. That would be a big step.
After we finish our lunch, we head out to walk about the town. We were checking out the area and my sister and I wanted to stop somewhere for a sweet treat. My sister, “Hey, can we stop at this chocolate shop for a treat?” My dad replies, “Oh, none for me. I have to watch my figure if I’m going to pull off Vivien Leigh.” So true, so true.
On a separate note, I’m thinking of signing up for e-diets and I plan to work out every day this week.
I’m listening to http://thecure.muxtape.com/