#RealDeal: Father's Day 2016 = the ultimate "right" of passage
This is the first time in my career that I've written something, and not published it. I'm telling myself that it's because I've had a very eventful couple of weeks, (and brevity is my new bestie), but I also know that I'm lying.
Last week, I happened to be in South Florida for work, so I tagged on a few days to the trip to spend Father's day with my father.
<tangent> It totally cracks me up how much of my 20s I spent wanting to say "I'm nothing like my family blah blah blah", and now in my 30s it's the stark reality (SHOUT OUT TO G.o.T.) that I am exactly like my family and miss them terribly. I guess this is the purpose of the post, so let's get back to it ...</tangent>
My father is insanely annoying when it comes to taking anything for himself. When he wants something - he absolutely goes after it, but on days like Father's day, a simple question of "what do you want to do" is like pulling teeth.
His response is always, "spend time with you."
Yes, I get that, I say sharply and annoyed back, but PICK SOMETHING.
"I pick you."
Then, after a long and heavy sigh, he responds with "but there is 'dot dot dot."
THANK YOU!!! We typically say in unison.
He could have wanted to hop on one foot while stroking a singing bowl from Tibet ...
I GENUINELY DO NOT CARE JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT!!! TODAY IS YOUR DAY!!!
Let's take that train trip up to Fort Lauderdale airport, he said.
<tangent> See, my parents travel a lot, and my father's brain is always focused on maximizing the enjoyment of his experiences. While the drive is only 45 or so minutes, after traveling for however long, that last hour can be brutal. He had recently read about the Tri-rail which runs from Miami airport to Ft. Lauderdale airport (among the many other stops).
"It's great," he said excited. "We can enjoy ourselves on our trip, and just grab an Uber back from the train." (The ride sharing thing is new to them, and they are VERY excited.) </tangent>
On the train ride up, I mentally meta-ed into deep thought pondering a solution to a marketing theory I have. Excited and frustrated, I was texting a colleague my thoughts, and sometime during the exchange my father had noticed that my credit card and ID were slipped into the back of my phone case.
Is that one of those phone cases that acts as a wallet, he asked?
No, I said, it's just easier keeping everything in one place while traveling. Besides, I won't own one of those wallet cases after I had my phone stolen the night before a destination date. I lost my phone and my debit card - the fuckers cleared my account. (Which didn't take long.)
What did you do, asked my mom?
I figured it out, I admitted. I was lucky that it happened at bar, and because they had just checked my ID, I still had that in my pocket.
But how did you travel without phone or money, she pressed.
Well, I launched Talk Nerdy on $10 and got to 12 states over the course of a year, so that part was easy. For communication, I had social media- so I just grabbed my iPad and would find places to use wifi. I had to strategize rides, etc beforehand but that was simple. (Once people knew I was in "trouble" people came out of the woodwork wanting to help.)
You really need to write a book, she said.
<tangent> HA, when I went to link the story, I picked the wrong one. I thought I had lost my phone on the destination date that I got ditched in a bikini, and it wasn't - it was a few days later on the OTHER destination date with the pink muscle tee dude. SO. MANY. STORIES. </tangent>
Continuing the initial train of thought, I then received this text:
YESSS! I said, SUPPPERRR pumped.
What's up, asked my mom.
I then told them exactly what I wanted to do, and said - wait, I need to finish this thought process, placing headphones over my ears drowning out everything else.
Before the music started playing, I caught my mom asking my dad if he understood what I just said.
No idea, he replied, and that's why she's so good at what she does!
We arrived at the airport a short time later, and my mom indicated that she needed to use the restroom. The restroom being a no woman left behind situation, I unconsciously obliged.
As I went to grab a tissue from the stall, I noticed that there was a license on the ground, and asked if it belonged to anyone.
Nope, they all said shaking their heads.
Fuck, I thought, I have to do the right thing and find this person.
I told my mom I'd be right back, as I asked an agent where the lost and found was.
Across the terminal, they said.
Great. I started walking and wondered if there was a way I could find her in social. I didn't trust turning it in without giving her the heads up that it's there.
I grabbed her name and location from the ID and searched on Facebook. By the time I was outside the lost and found door, I found her page.
I walked closer to enter, and saw a sign indicating that they are closed on Sundays.
I closed out messenger, and went to her profile to see on the off chance if there was a phone number listed in her about.
I got bupkis.
I then went back to her main page, and saw that she a company listed for work. I clicked on their page, and they had a phone number.
I called, as I walked back.
There you are, said my parents wondering what was going on.
Where were you? asked my mom.
Oh, I said, I found an ID and by the time I walked to lost and found and back I not only spoke to her on the phone, but found her (visual confirmed by the photo on her license) and made sure she got it back; I was lucky she was still here.
I explained to them how I did it, and then said after all that I actually do have to use the restroom.
As I walked away, I could hear my mom say "now I really have no idea what she does or how she does it."
We then grabbed an Uber and lunch over on Las Olas. As we were leaving I noticed an Irish flag off in the distance.
We need to do Irish car bombs for dessert, I said. It's Father's day!!
My father (who drinks but only a very little), was down (since he wasn't driving). I'll have wine, said my mom.
DONE! I said grabbing another Uber.
We then walked into a packed Irish pub a handful of miles away.
See, we weren't the only ones with this amazing idea, I said laughing.
We did our shots, and my father was impressed I finished the whole thing so quickly.
Father, it's a shot - you're supposed to do them fast.
Yeah, but you actually did it!!
My mom then stepped outside to call my brother (to rub in the fact that I'm their favorite child - clearly), and as she stepped away I commented on the ambiance.
I really dig this place, I said.
That's why I wanted to come to this pub, he said, I enjoy this place too. I will, however, forgive the owner for being Scottish.
How do you know that?
One, I've met him, but two, look at that barrel above your head.
Okay? I said not getting it.
It's Bushmills - that's not a "true" Irishman's whiskey.
I still don't get it, I said.
Bushmills is based in Belfast (Northern Ireland). A "true" Irishman won't drink Bushmills - only Jameson.
So that's why you and Michael (brother) drink Jameson out of all the different variations of whiskey?
You got it, he said.
He then shared stories about his childhood, and his side of the family.
(Due to estrangement, simple things like my grandmother's first name I never knew until long after she died. You can read more about it here.)
I know so little about this whole world you grew up in, I admitted hoping he would tell more.
I had to protect you, he said. They were so cruel to you, so as your father they were equally dead to me. (Now they both literally are.) You were so sensitive, and I didn't want to hurt you any more than you already were.
Thank you, I said smiling. Please tell me more though, I love hearing about the history.
Well, growing up, I had heard stories of your relative, Frank Friel. He's the man who drove Michael Collins' body to the hospital during the war.
Wow, I said.
I wondered for years if it was just folklore, but then google came around and there he is!
That's really cool, I said.
"You come from a long line of fighters and free thinkers - on both sides of the family. We raised you to figure things out for yourself, and make decisions based upon what you wanted to do, not what we wanted you to do. I am convinced that is why my side of the family never understood you. You've been very willful your whole life."
I am, and I'm not though, I admitted. My brain constantly scans for the path of least resistance.
It's not that, he said. Your brain focuses on the end goal, and you cut out the bullshit it takes to get there. You're willing to work and do whatever it takes - but you can also compartmentalize the things that don't matter. Not a lot of people can stay focused for so long on an end goal, that takes talent.
Wow, I said. You're totally right. I never thought of it like that, but yeah! Do people underestimate you? I ask.
All the time. In law school they called me Matlock (because he was so "old"). I let them think what they wanted while I did what I had to do.
<tangent> My father amazes me, and I only see it more and more as I get older. He's the quietest person in the room, extremely extremely extremely humble, but don't fuck with him. Something would happen as kids and we would go running to him crying, and he would say "which side of the coin do you want me to argue?" Simple things, like he's looking out my window!!!! Everything was debatable, and you better have your facts straight, or you'll lose. It pissed the fuck out of me as a kid, but now as an adult, I see it all as a very valuable lesson.
MY DAD SET LEGAL PRECEDENT IN THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT!!! (This was during my stalking case as a teen. I was the first person to get a restraining order in a non-sexual relationship against four of my best friends. Not only did he get the order, but because of high school reunions, etc it doesn't expire. HE GOT A LIFETIME RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST FOUR PEOPLE. THE MAN IS BRILLIANT!!! </tangent>
My mom came back from outside a few moments later, and they laughed admitting they can't believe they've been in a relationship together for 40 years (they are only 56 and met in grade school). We're going to do something fun, he admitted. And you and your brother are going to come too!
Done, I said. Give us the dates.
My mom looked at my father, and said "even after all these years, I still feel like sometimes I don't know you."
Wait, WHAT!!! I said shocked.
FORTY YEARS, AND YOU TWO DON'T FEEL LIKE YOU KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT EACH OTHER? Wow, clearly I do not have a chance.
We wrapped up our drinks a short time later, and on the uber ride back I thought about what my parents had said, and my own dating life. Guys tell me over and over that they have no idea what I'm thinking and or doing. A friend of mine that I've known for over a decade is a casting director, and after four separate interviews over the years he's said that he never got me either.
"I interview people every day, and every time I thought you were 'this' I realized I was mistaken, and you were actually 'that' ... only to find out you are neither. You're like a deep mysterious ocean."
I started laughing, but now think he's right. I'm CONSTANTLY underestimated, and I'm going to do what I want to do.
When we got home, we watched Games of Thrones together, (AMAZING EPISODE) and afterwards I gave him a big hug saying "happy Father's day. I love you."
I love you too, he said squeezing hard. It's hard for me to understand what you've done and what you're going to do, but I'm proud that you're doing it and following your heart.
Thanks, I said. I learned from the best.