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Friday, December 13, 2013

Mirror and Hourglass - Part III

This is the third part in a series.    Part I    Part II

Dad had a soft spot for old trucks, so we cruised in style in everything from a Divco milk truck to a classic  green Ford truck that he had hand painted and mounted a plastic duck head (a decapitated lawn ornament – poor guy) on as a hood ornament.  We got some strange looks in that Ford, but as soon as people saw Dad’s 6 foot 7, 250-plus pound frame emerge from that truck, there were nothing but nervous smiles and averted glances.

You didn’t question the duck.
 The Divco milk truck was my favorite, because it was nothing but open space behind the front seats and I got to sit in the back while we went around town dumpster-diving.  One day when I was about 9 years old, as Dad stood waist-deep in a dumpster behind an upscale apartment building in one of the wealthier areas in Denver and I sat cross-legged in the back of the open Divco waiting for him, two boys about my age rode by on their bikes and promptly circled back around, eying me curiously.

“Look,” one of them said quietly to the other as he pointed at me like I was a zoo exhibit, “a girl.”
“Yea, she must be kidnapped,” the other said.

I waved shyly as they stared for several minutes, feeling uncomfortable and really wishing Dad would come out of that stupid giant trashcan.  This was embarrassing.
Dad popped his head up over the top of the dumpster then, sending both boys shrieking and pedaling away as fast as their legs would take them, Dad laughing as they rode away.  (Never mind that if they really thought I had been kidnapped, they might ought to have told somebody.)

I didn’t get to ride in the back of the Divco anymore.

When I was 11, my Dad and I took a trip to Kaiser Permanente to fill a prescription.  After you enter the outside doors, there’s a long corridor to the next set of doors that has a noisy walkway.  I made it through the front doorway with no problems - no one I knew had seen me, no one my age was anywhere in sight - and then, lo and behold, the cutest 15ish year old guy I had ever seen walked through the door in front of us.

Alas, at that very moment, my Dad discovered that the walkway into the building was "oh, so clickety-clackety" and proceeded to do an impressive shuck and jive ALL over it. Yup, all 6 foot 7, 250 lbs. of him, gleefully pulling a Ben Vareen up and down the entryway. I wanted to melt into that cursed noisy walkway and emerge somewhere else.

I was, however, left standing in that same spot, so embarrassed I’m sure I turned a lovely shade of purple.

A group of elderly woman was standing at the other end, giggling. A young couple came through the door and giggled a little, then rolled their eyes playfully. We made it into the hospital eventually (after a 15 minute cover of “Singin’ in the Rain” by my Dad). But that wasn’t the end of it.

Oh no, I couldn’t be THAT lucky.

We were standing in line to fill the prescription (finally), when we became “next” in line. Now, I had never thought this to be a very extraordinary thing, but apparently my Dad thought it was absolutely novel.   He grinned widely at me, and I cringed.

“LOOK HONEY!   We’re NEXT!   Oh, there’s nothing in the whole wide world like being NEXT!”   (Cue big theatrics here.)   ”You know what,”   He gasped as though he’d just had the most life-changing revelation ever,  “we should let the guy BEHIND us go IN FRONT OF US, so that we can be NEXT – AGAIN!”

 He clapped his hands and grinned at me again.   Still, I had not acquired the supernatural ability to disappear or melt into floors, so I was, however begrudgingly, stuck.  To my utter horror, my Dad turned to the man behind us, who stepped back a little.

“Sir,” he said politely, “would you like to go in front of us?”

The man shrugged, “Sure?”

I’m still not sure if he was only agreeing so that he could get what he needed done and get out of there quickly, should my Dad snap and decide to do something REALLY crazy (like eat a donut whole).  The man moved in front of us.

Aaaand, we were next again.

“SEE HONEY!?! Isn’t this GREAT? Wanna let the lady behind us go in front of us so we can be next AGAIN?”

Sigh.  “Sure, Dad.”

This went on for some time, as it always did.  Like the time we were at the library with my friend Heather.  Or the time we were at some fast food place and my impossibly gorgeous social studies teacher just happened to pull into the drive-through with the school counselor as we sat at one of the tables outside.

“Oh, he’s soooo dreamy!” My dad said – quite loudly – as he made a point of jumping up and down like a hormonal teenager at a boy band concert and waving at their car enthusiastically.

And for all these moments in my life where I had wished for spontaneous invisibility, there were so many more that proved just how much he loved me, and solidified for me the ways to be a fully rounded parent; the Machiavellian principal of parenthood, you could say, the iron hand in the velvet glove (or Smurf puppet, depending on how old I was).
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