[Very old photo taken back in the day when I might have been sneaking boyfriends over fences and nearly getting everyone shot by undercover police.]
My father and I have a semi-estranged relationship which makes our every meeting equal parts awkward and exciting. It’s like having a friend who already knows all the important players in your life, but hasn’t heard about all your recent debaucherous exploits and you can’t wait to share them. But then there’s the added weirdness of that person being your father, and him being slightly pissed off because you’ve forgotten his middle name and phone number (slight exaggeration).
So, in honor of Cancer Dad’s 68th year of life, I met him at “The Club” for too much wine and appetizers I can’t pronounce (feuilletés? Eh?) so we could catch up.
About halfway into a house bottle of chardonnay, my father launches into a story that makes absolutely no sense in the context of his sweater-vest-wearing, very-dry-martini-drinking life.
It started off like this: “We were in the bowels of Gardena, searching for a Glock at a local pawn shop when the Porsche’s engine light came on.”
Wait. One, my dear father detests Porsches, but two, the real mystery here is how he ended up in a pawn shop looking for semi-automatic pistol.
“I’ve taken up shooting,” he explains, as if this is the most natural thing for an aging cancer patient/occasional university professor to do.
But … why?
“If someone breaks into my house, I want to be fucking sure I can take them out,” he says. “Right now, I can only kill them if they are standing still and are roughly the size of a barrel.”
That really doesn’t make me feel better.
Also, I smell something seriously fishy in this story (or is that just the aroma of my gently seared ahi?), as break-ins are virtually non-existent in my father’s upper-crust neighborhood. In fact, where he lives, my father has a better chance of being trampled to death by a prized Arabian stallion or run down by a Mercedes-Benz SL600 Twin Turbo (the neighbor has one, and I suspect he doesn’t always look both ways before exiting his driveway) than experiencing a home invasion.
I decide to pry further.
“One night, I heard a commotion in the backyard, and when I went upstairs to investigate, there was a squad of plainclothes police officers with their weapons drawn,” Cancer Dad explains. “Someone had scaled our back fence!”
At that moment, if could have turned any paler, I would have. Unfortunately, I already have such an astoundingly white complexion that I might be better suited to living in close proximity with Ozark cavefish.
“I’m taking [Wife Number Four (or Five)] to the shooting range too,” he continues. “That way, she’ll know what to do if she has to gun down a robber!”
At this point, I have two options:
- Point out that this “attempted” home invasion occurred about seven years ago, and then quell Cancer Dad’s fears by admitting the following: The alleged burglar was actually in the upstairs bathroom cupboard hiding from the police, because he was my then-boyfriend and I had surreptitiously snuck him into the house and then panicked when the SWAT team showed up in my bedroom.
- Feign complete ignorance of said incident.
I choose the latter.
Needless to say, I will not be breaking into Cancer Dad’s house to stock up on ravioli and dish washing detergent anytime soon.