I think this more than any other thing I have written since or in the future will explain more about how I got to be the person I am more than this one.
The second time Paul had met my mother and father, there was the typical awkward pause as he struggled to figure out how to address the parents of a girl he had not quite married yet. My mother insisted he call her by her first name, he looked relieved that she did not insist on "Mom". Then he turned to my father and asked what he should call him.
My father simply answered "Call me - Commodore"
the murky beginnings
There are five kids in the family. All of my brothers and sisters have some of Dad's physical attributes to some degree, I have none, but the personality is burrowed tick deep into my psyche and I couldn't remove it now even with fire or Vaseline.
I have begged my parents to tell me time and time again of the events that caused two such disparate people to come to be dating, but, I have never been able to get a straight answer from either of them. They apparently knew and hated each other from their elementary school days. My Dad would call her fat, my Mom would call him an idiot.
This is a recount of the story I get from my mother anytime I ask about how they hooked up.
"I was with my best friend, Maureen in the soda shop near the college. Your father was in the school play and he was standing on top of a table yelling lines from the play and making a fool of himself. Well I leaned into my friend and said "I just hate him!". Maureen laughed and said, "You will probably end up marrying him!"
To which my mother replied, "I wouldn't marry him if he were the last man on earth!"
That was end of the story.
What the hell does that tell me?! That my Dad is a jackass in public and apparently Mom lost her memory somewhere down the line! Well I already KNOW that!
the early years
One time I was involved in a conversation with some co-workers about childhood memories involving our fathers. As I listened to everyone recount their reminiscences that seemed to involve a lot of fishing trips and watching football games or working on the car or yard.
I pulled out the ones that were clearest and comforting in my mind. My father fixing us steak tartare on Saturday afternoons and showing me how to make the perfect martini at the age of ten.
My recounting of these tender stories were met with blank stares of co-workers, as I realized the paternal watermarks left on me were formed by experiences steeped in hard liquor and raw meat.
When I was about eleven I gave my father a pith helmet with one of those battery-operated fans that blows through a hole onto your forehead. Even as a child I didn't really expect him to wear it. He was ecstatic and wore it everywhere until he bought himself an actual pith helmet and then he never went anywhere without the hat and his cane. The cane was wooden with a large solid brass doorknob style handle. My father carries it nearly everywhere claiming protection from the "foul mongrels" that run unleashed around the neighborhood, that he may "strike them betwixt the eyes" in case of attack.
When my parents lived in New York, there was an incident involving highschool age ruffians stealing my fathers groceries outside of the store. My father nearly seventy at the time ran after them in his pith helmet, hiking vest, shorts with black socks and sandals and waving his cane. Upon cornering them he claimed he "persuaded" them to give back the groceries. I advised him in the future to allow the police to handle such matters since the teens may have had guns and when cornered may have felt compelled to shoot him. I can see the headlines now as they found his body sprawled behind the Albertson's - Teen Gunman kills Dr.Quest
My father has since moved on in his apparel choices. Currently he is sporting a victorian British officers helmet and a nehru coat.
He still carries the cane.
I will not sit here and tell you that my father is a quiet man. He is usually in a perpetual state of yelling in some degree. Sometimes it isn't even about anything that angers him specifically, but my childhood friends were terrified of him nonetheless. His habit of making bizarre non-sequitors is one of his favorite past times. My personal favorite is "I kissed a bear for the FBI and discovered god".
I have no idea what this means.
Any sort of activity that he has no personal interest in will be subject to mockery of the most esoteric nature. I could not watch Saturday morning cartoons in peace without him exclaiming that he would not "walk across the street to watch Bugs Bunny make love to Madame Ouspenskaya!". He has a particular affection for taunting nuns and priests, anything from shouting "yeah god!" to the more elaborate "spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch!" which he boasts while crossing himself Roman Catholic style.
He has asked me on more than one occasion about helping him procure one of those big red hats the cardinals wear at the Vatican. I have successfully put him off thus far.
He called this morning to tell me he may be in town this weekend.
to be continued.