Daddy

2 02 2012

My father doesn’t wear his wedding ring. For some reason that’s never been unnatural for me. Yet for some reason whenever I see a couple in public who are obviously together and the woman has nice bling-bling on her left yet the man has none… I instantly think “scandal,” which is ridiculous. I mean I’m sure most married men have a perfectly good, faithful reason to not wear their wedding bands. In the case of my Dad, he’s a pilot. So what? You think. Well he’s not just any sort of pilot, he’s kinda like a limo driver of the air. This requires that he loads all of his hoity toity customer’s bags. One of which caught on his ring years back (back when he actually use to wear it,) and nearly ripped his finger off. From then on he determined to wear it only on special occasions, anniversaries, mother’s day, Mom’s birthday… things of that nature. It was always weird to see its appearance. I’ve only seen it a select number of times. Its gold and along each side there is a small row of dots. I remember seeing the way Dad would clench his hand randomly during the times he had it on. He is not as thin as he was when he was married and the ring has never been resized. He has a bit beefier fingers than he used to and the ring cuts circulation off. He doesn’t complain thought. He knows how much wearing the ring means to Mom. Though he may hide all sorts of discomfort while actually wearing the ring there is no way for him to hide how difficult it is for him to get it back off again. He stands there by the dresser, fingers slathered with a thick layer of coco-butter, tugging and pulling at that darn ring. His lips purse together until they disappear and he holds his breath until his face turns red and that one vein pops out on the side of his forehead. He’s not a man easily bested and so he always gets the ring off again. And again it will go back into the top drawer of the dresser for safe keeping until the next special event. That’s how it’s always been with my father, his thus and so attitude has always made sure there is a place for everything and everything must be in place… except for maybe when it comes to the frigerator.
Where items are kept in the fridge has been and probably will be the longest lasting argument between my parents. Mom loves to cook (and she’s and excellent one at that) and the kitchen is her workshop. All of her tools must be where she left them (and with as many times as we’ve moved it took months for us kids to retrain ourselves in unloading the dishwasher,) and the contents of the fridge qualify as “tools.” Whenever Dad uses the fridge he just throws things where there is a space, I know this because I’ve watched him, and me and my sister got tired of being blamed for his misgivings. And boy does his flippant nature set Mom off. I’m telling you if the pickles wind up where the mayonnaise goes then its World War III and you had better duck and cover. She will rant on and on about how she doesn’t go into his shop and rearrange his tools (which is a HUGE pet peeve of his) so then why in heaven’s name would he rearrange her fridge?! For all her shouting and ranting though, it never does any good. She’ll rearrange the fridge again, make sworn threats about how it would be the last time and how whoever set it out of sorts would be the one condemned to fix it. Of course this bothered my father none “She can just get over it,” he would say. It didn’t please me and my sister at all. I mean we had no problem putting things back where we found them. But you know if you’re putting something back where it was when it was already out of place to being with… you get confused as to whether you should put it back where you think you know it goes or where you actually got it from. And Lord help the person who stands there with the door open weighing ones options, for inevitably Momma would round the corner and see you cooling the world and then you were in for it all over again. That’s the way it is with Momma. And everybody knows when Momma ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy, which made me wonder why my Dad continually tried to push his luck. Because if it wasn’t the fridge she was ranting about, then it was the stupid woodpile.
I can’t tell you how many times our family has had to move this huge and I do mean HUGE stack of drying tinder. It was a take none of us women folk looked forward to. Why couldn’t he just find a place to put it and keep it there we would ask of Daddy. His reply to us would be along the lines of “Come on Shaniqua, come on Sha-nay-nay, Po’ Lazarus needs yo help in da field.” Dad likes to listen to old southern chain-gang chants and he preferred to think of us as his little slave hands while he was master of the plantation. Mom eventually got to the point where she refused to help anymore. Which left me and my sister to tromp out into the “field” and help him move stacks of firewood covered with lichen and creepy crawlies. Now I didn’t mind the creepy crawlies so much. And I didn’t mind the black widows. Black widows are easy to identify and easy to squish. Brown recluses I mind though. They like to disguise themselves as harmless wolf spiders, however one kiss from a brown recluse and the next thing you know half your body is rotting off and your life is on the line. I’m all moved out now. I don’t have to move that stupid woodpile anymore. Just the other day my Daddy called to tell me he missed me, (which is unheard of because he’s not one of those voice-your-feelings kind of man.) Needless to say I was surprised.
“Yeah?” I had said.
“Yeah…” he replied. “I miss my slave hand. Now I don’t have anyone to help me move the woodpile.” From this I gathered that my sister had finally given up and given in the towel. It was nice to be missed, even if it was Shaniqua’s brute strength he was referencing. I smiled to myself, glad that I was on the phone so he couldn’t see me.
“Well now,” I told my Daddy, “ I guess it finally found its place.”
“Yeah, “he said. “I guess it did.”

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