In this week before Father’s Day I will continue talking about the father I knew best.
In the summer of 1969 my family flew to Mobile, Alabama for a family party. My parents insisting on vetting my wardrobe so that I didn’t bring anything that would mark me as a hippie princess.
My wardrobe passed inspection. I could dress both English mod and Pucci New York if the occasion demanded it. I don’t remember how many second cousins were around my age but there were many as Great Uncle Max and Great Aunt Ethel had five children all of whom had propagated and except for Ricki and Peter didn’t stop at two. Each one took me into the closet in the kitchen where they would take the one telephone for privacy and ask the same question: Could I get them any pot? “Why me?” I would say pretending to be shocked, “I wouldn’t know.” Meanwhile back at the Long Island Gold Coast college….
We rented a car to drive us to New Orleans and then home to New York. Though we had made many road trips most of them were no further South than DC; North than the White Mountains; and West to Amish Country . This trip was different.
The car was rented and had a Kansas license plate. My father, normally the slowest driver in America, sped through the Blue Ridge Mountains. My mother, sister and I sat in amazement until finally I asked why he was driving so fast.
Oh it’s a Kansas license. Nobody will ticket me.
While there’s truth in that statement, I think it was something more.
My father grew a long moustache during the road trip. Forever after he would let it grow large and his hair way too long. I called him Einstein; he thought it was a compliment. Every time he cut his hair and moustache he looked ten years younger.
One day about 20 years later he asked me if he should shave half his moustache. I wasn’t shocked but simply asked him why: “So that when I go up there the people who knew me before will recognize me and so will the people who knew me after.” “Only if you want to look ridiculous in this life, daddy.”