A few years ago, my dad traveled to Amsterdam. He insisted on going alone because we “slow him down.”
We all knew he was going alone because he didn’t want to share the legal hookers with anyone else.
I knew it had to be bad, though, when he came home and I asked him how his trip was. “How many prostitutes were graced with your presence and money?”
Dad shook his head sadly. “Oh, Shay…I admit that I walked through the Red Light District. But I didn’t visit any prostitutes. So many of them didn’t have any teeth and just looked hungry. I just wanted to buy them something to eat…but what do you buy a prostitute without any teeth?”
“Soup?” I ventured. “A blender?”
Dad nodded his head. “I thought about that, but I didn’t want to offend anyone. So I just walked on through.”
Moral of the story? My dad’s kind of a slut. But he’s a kind-hearted slut. So while he loved Amsterdam and his trip was fabulous, he didn’t partake in any legal prostitution. That he admitted to, anyway.
My siblings and I adore our dad, and we are so proud when we can say we got any of our personality traits from him (minus the hooker thing). One thing we all got from him was the Ugly Duckling Syndrome. We all have an awkward phase from, oh, birth to…let’s say 22 years. By then we figure out (in my case, by using bucketloads of bleach and lots of makeup) how to look good. (It does normally take some time, though. One morning a couple of weeks ago, I motioned toward my face and made a joke to a co-worker about how “it takes time to look this good,” and my boss, who happened to be walking by, said, “Not enough time. Maybe you should take a few more hours.” Then I screamed “#METOO!” and he ran off, apologizing the whole way back to his office.)
In the case of a good-looking divorced dad, that means lots of divorced women asking us to set them up with him.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” I said to one of my parents’ old friends who had reconnected with us through Facebook. “Hell, no, I won’t set you up with my dad!”
“Are you worried about your inheritance?” she asked. “Because I wouldn’t touch—"
“Screw my inheritance. I’ve got my own money. What I’m worried about is you catching some disease and then blaming me for setting you up with him. No, thanks. You’re not pinning that chlamydia on me.”
For reals, the STD thing was a joke. My dad doesn’t have any STD’s…that he’s admitted to, anyway. The real reason I won’t set people up is that he’s the best, most thoughtful boyfriend in the world—sometimes for up to 2 years. Then he “doesn’t feel like it” anymore and just stops calling them and my sisters and I have to deal with the repercussions. And nobody needs a sobbing phone call from a 60-year-old woman at 1 PM on an otherwise gorgeous Sunday afternoon. (“What did I doooooo, Shay? Why hasn’t he called me back??” “Um…I don’t know? Maybe call one of my sisters and ask them? I’ll bet they’ll know more.”)
A few years ago at Christmas, I decided, after a couple of rum and Diet Cokes, that I needed to impart my wisdom on my aging father.
“Dad,” I said, leaning back in my chair on the screened-in back deck, “I know you’re probably having sex—"
“Oh, Jesus,” he harrumphed, lighting his once-a-year cigar.
Not deterred by his lack of enthusiasm, I continued. “I read this article about old people and AIDS.”
My dad rolled his eyes.
“Dad, Geriatric AIDS is no joke.”
“Geriatric? Screw you,” he said.
“Listen, old man,” my older sister piped up. “If my pregnancy was considered geriatric when I was 37, then you can damn well bet that your AIDS is considered geriatric at 63.”
“I don’t have AIDS!”
“That we know of,” I said. “Have you been tested? Are you being careful, Dad?”
My dad shot me a dirty look. “None of your business, SIS,” he said, which is the term he uses (usually with a rough poke in the shoulder) to let me know I’m treading on dangerous ground. I softened my words a bit.
“I just worry about you, Dad. Remember that nobody is immune to AIDS. Even old people like you.”
My dad shook his head. “Please. Getting AIDS anymore is like catching the common cold.”
“I don’t think it’s exactly—"
My dad leaned forward to address my sister and me. “You know what I’d say if my doctor told me I had AIDS?” He didn’t wait for an answer from us. “I’d be like, ‘Okay, great talk, Doc. Got any good buffets around here?’”
It was my turn to roll my eyes. “Whatever. I did my best. But you can be damned sure that I’m not using your toothbrush if I forget mine next time I visit.”
“Good,” my dad said. “Stay away from my toothbrush. Your breath smells like shit.”
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, all! My wish for you is that your holidays spent with family are as sweet as ours always are.
And remember: Use protection!