June 8, 2001
This is not really a Father's Day letter, even though it may
appear suspiciously written around that date. NO! I will no longer sully the
M_____ name with even a hint of a Father’s Dayish letter, card or gift. I
will not give satisfaction to the soulless bastards at Hallmark who came up
with the scheme for bamboozling us out of our money. I give a whole-hearted
HARUMPH to Father’s Day. In fact, I am outraged that I cannot even write a
letter to my own father around the early part of June each year without
somebody associating my completely innocent act with that commercialized
No this is not a Father’s Day letter. What this is, is a
letter of meaningful correspondence between me and you, which simply happens
to contain some father-daughter memories which I would like to share with you
(in no particular order).
Begin Detailing of Fun Memories
When I was real young, back in the house on C____ Street, I remember waking up
in the night and sneaking downstairs. What I was planning to do, I don’t
recall, but everyone was asleep. Everyone but you! Expecting to be scolded and
sent back to bed, instead, I was surprised and delighted by the invitation to
join you on the couch to watch late-night TV. I still remember what that
little girl felt like; I had my daddy all to myself. I had honor and
privilege! I had sugar cookies! While I can't remember exactly what was on the
TV, I know it was scary—a Twilight Zone episode, maybe even Trilogy of
Terror. Scary stuff for a little kid, but scary in a good way. Daddy was there
for protection that night from the vampire or the werewolf or the haunted doll
that could kill you just by looking at you. You made me feel safe.
There were a lot of late nights with you, after that one. The
movies are a blur of fake teeth, curses, stormy nights with Gypsy women, and
chubby guys who get killed by zombies only to become zombies themselves.
They’re a blur, but a wonderful blur. I learned a fine appreciation for
horror movies, thanks to you Dad, and (to the dismay of my film teacher in
college) I also learned a fine appreciation for Karen Black. I defended her
and her cheap-o horror movie cohorts valiantly. Not really because they had
talents or skills I admired, mostly just because I remembered enjoying those
“scary but safe” movies with you.
Perhaps the monster movies where part of your greater
educational plan to teach me fearlessness. If so, let me congratulate you on a
mission accomplished. I fear no Frankensteins or mummies whatsoever. I
remember you tried hard to instill in me the ability to not be afraid, and the
lessons were always exhilarating. I was astonished that you covered your hands
in sugar water and let bees crawl all over them. I think I still need a few
more bee lessons. I haven’t quite achieved the same fearlessness with bees
that I have with Lon Chaney Jr. I also recall you urging us outside to play in
the rain during a thunderstorm! (I'm still not completely sure if that was
about learning fearlessness, or if it was actually a secret wish on your part
to lose a couple of uncontrollable children to an “accidental” lightning
Do you remember piling all the neighborhood kids into the car,
letting us loose in the candy section of the 7-11 store and then taking us to
the Hartford Drive-In? We got to see Herbie the Love Bug on the roof of the
old Pontiac station wagon, secure in the knowledge that:
Do you remember how excited J____ and I would be when, one day
each summer, you and Mom surprised us with a trip to Riverside? We never knew
in advance when the day would come—we would simply awaken one morning to an
unexpected day and evening of incredible fun. (Unfortunately we would then
return back to an empty existence as regular schoolchildren). Back in those
days the deadly serious grownup ride was the Thunderbolt. (That rickety wooden
atrocity is still there!) I would sit with you, and J____ would sit with Mom
and every time we'd ride (you always made sure it was more than once), you'd
tell me to check the floor. And every time, we would find the change that fell
out of everyone’s pants (pretty good thinking there, Dad). You would be
proud of the lesson I learned from those days. Do you realize that I've
probably accumulated a good fifty to sixty bucks from checking the ground not
only on roller coasters, but movie seats, train seats, bus seats, toilet seats
and every other kind of seat you can imagine? Anywhere poor schmucks go and
lose their money, believe me—I’m there checking.
A. I had all the candy a kid could ever dream of wanting.
B. I was the envy of all S________ Road for having the coolest dad.
C. I was on the roof of the car!
I remember the Good Fairy who left us candy by the fireplace
when we weren't looking. I couldn't have been more than six or seven when
J____ and I were fighting about something. The Good Fairy was brought in by
you, in some mysterious fashion that was never entirely clear to me, and
performed her peacemaking duties. You called us to the living room to find
tiny candies strewn about the fireplace hearth. We were, I think, meant to
bear witness to the miracle that had occurred at our house. No, it was not a
weeping icon with a stigmata, but hey . . . candies from a fairy has stopped
more quarrels than religion ever could. The U.N. could learn a thing or two
from you and that fairy.
It occurs to me now that these memories may seem like random
chunks linked together without any real connection. So here’s my point:
You may not know this, but you were the only dad all the kids
talked about. Everybody on S________ Road wished you belonged to them. Did you
know that? It was a phenomenon that continued into my adolescence and then my
adulthood. You worked hard to make our childhood delightful and full of
wonder—and it was. You made sure I always had a safe haven to return to.
Every single one of my friends wanted and still wants one of those
safe-haven-type things. I'm one of the very few who has one.
Oh and Dad, you always knew how to fix things. The night I was
taken to the police station, or the day I backed into a car across the
street—I knew how I had disappointed you, but you never let it show. You
would be stern with me, and tell me that you should never reward bad behavior
but . . . then you would present me with a card or treat or tell me that the
rabbit was living in a good home, on a farm, where it had other bunnies to
jump and play with. You always knew how badly I felt.
Anyway, I want to say thank you, again and again.
[Never forget: meaningful correspondence, not a Father's Day
offering. SCREW THE CAPITALIST MEDIA WHORE!]