February 19, 2005


As I was placing my quarter atop my crumbley-still dollar on the counter, I lean't in and loud-whispered to the dude "Whats up with those kids?" - he looks over my shoulder to the table at the other end, the kids on weekend custody furlough with their dad who has supplemented his attention with 2 cokes and a shared cookie. He reads Autotrader, as if alone, and his sons, both with skater-do long hair, hoodies, scorn and leather jackets, ages maybe 9 and 12, mute. They both got deer knives clipped to their pockets. A song comes on the coffee shop stereo and the little one tries to drum along, Dave Grohl hard, on the table top. "Stop" says the older one. Dad is in a bubble of used car deals, orbiting somewhere far above their familiar terra, unawares to the boys he's fading.

I am terribly tempted to turn around and start whipping the dad with his rolled up Autotrader. It's 11 am on a Saturday and your kids are idling in a smokey coffee shop and ps. what the f are they doing with hunting knives outside a deer-stand? They should be home watching some cartoons or climbing or building stuff, maybe downing some Fruity Pebbles, but not cookies and cokes. Most every man that I ever really loved had some crippling sadness due to the dad that never showed up, the dad that bailed, the dad that toughed them into some wack idea of manhood. Meanwhile, I had two dads who showed up for me like I was Christmas, cooked my dinners encouraged my feminism and independence and were emotionally deep, taught me how to drive a car and a boat, cried in front of me on occasion and gave me books for my birthday. It gave me a leg up in the world like nothing else.

Growing up in a patriarchy, nothing fucks you up as bad as the checked-out dad. Nothing saddens me as much to witness.

After the kids n' dad mime-family ensemble leave, the coffee-counter guy comes over to my table and gossips to me, about how on Thanksgiving, since they are open, they seem to be the exchange point for custody-sharing dads in the city. That there is a stream of moms dropping off, and dad's plying kids with cookies and hot choco's as way of apology. A custody depot all day long. "It's brutal. It's just brutal" he says.

Posted by Jessica at February 19, 2005 12:17 PM | TrackBack