I realized that the previous post about my Dad got published on the 28th, whereas it was meant to come out on the 27th, his birthday. So, to atone, I thought I’d share a little anecdote from my youth.
As many of my peers I started smoking in my teens, as an act of rebelliousness, freedom, maturity or something to that effect. We thought we were the height of cool sneaking a smoke behind the annex building in high school. How we thought we were being sneaky when as a group of six or seven we walked into a classroom reeking of a speakeasy from the 30’s, I have no idea. In any case, despite all of our stealth tactics my mom clued in on what I was doing when I was fifteen and confronted me with a pack of cigarettes she had found, possibly hidden beneath my mattress or some other totally secure location like that.
Amazingly, she didn’t immediately blow her top as was to be expected, she gave me a devious smile and said and I quote “you are to tell your father when he gets home”. Gulp. Yikes. I definitely would have preferred a screaming mother to disappointing my father, but there was nothing for it but to wait until he got home, at eight, it was three thirty… I was looking forward to four and a half hours of angst. Great punishment by the way, Mom.
So my Dad walks in the door, and I was hovering at the top of the stairs and call him up to my room cause I had something to tell him. I was obviously nervous. He started getting obviously nervous, possibly wondering what the hell could have happened to cause the laden atmosphere at home. The tension was palpable. So I hand him the pack of Marlboro reds my mom had found, minus half the contents that I had much more expertly hidden in the battery compartment of my “boom box”. As an aside, it was the early nineties, and there was no minimum age to buy cigarettes in Texas though the next year they passed a law that you had to be seventeen to buy them, I was sixteen. Though surprisingly, that didn’t stop me smoking either.
Anyway, he’s looking confusedly at the cigarette pack and I whisper “Mom found out I smoke, occasionally, rarely, at parties, don’t get mad, she said I had to tell you.”
And my Dad bursts out laughing. Laughing. In relief. Because in retrospect I imagine we had managed to so freak him out with our little scene that he must have thought I was pregnant, or getting married with a biker from Fresno, or got a tattoo or possibly all three. The occasional cigarette? He could live with that. (Also, he smoked, so you know pots and kettles.)
This was without a doubt a massive lapse in parenting judgment, but from then on I secretly thought my Dad was the coolest. Except for when he wouldn’t let me go out, then he was a dictatorial tyrant with no heart.