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Writing About My Father, Day 11

PauletteGuyanacirca1972

Here’s me in Guyana circa 1972, back when I used to be “tall for my age.” Sigh…

If you partake at all in the Facebook world, you may have seen the meme going around where someone tells you a random number of equally random facts about themselves. If you comment on the post, you are given a number and encouraged to create your own random list of that number of items. In that spirit, with a number provided by Katrina M., here are 8 random facts about my father.

1. My father didn’t meet me until I was approximately six weeks old. (My parents lived in Guyana. My mother went home to Trinidad—against my father’s wishes—to have me. The way my mother tells it, my father was so angry that he didn’t go to Trinidad for my birth and waited to meet me, instead, until my mother and I flew back to Guyana.)

2. My father was one of the smartest boys in his class. The high school he went to was known for producing future prime ministers and members of Parliament. When my father moved to the States, he decided not to go college because he was making good money at the phone company.

3. When I asked my father for his financial information so I could apply for financial aid for college, his answer was, “I have a new family now.”

4. My father took my sister and me on a bus trip to see the World’s Fair in Tennessee in 1982. That was the summer roadtrip on which we met our first brother who’s younger than me and older than my sister.

5. My parents were officially divorced when I was nine years old. They sat us down at the dining room table with my mother’s two youngest sisters, who lived with us at the time, and told us what was going on. After the family meeting, going upstairs to our bedrooms, I asked my father why they were getting divorced. He told me I was supposed to have asked all of my questions at the table.

6. I first learned about sex when I was in single digits through my father’s Playboy magazines and my mother’s Harlequin romances.

7. My father followed my mother to the U.S. when I was around six months old. To my knowledge I didn’t see them again until I was around two-and-a-half and moved to the U.S. with my father’s mother.

8. The first time I ate a veggie burger was in the mid-1980s when my father took my sister and me to some sort of “health fair’ in Manhattan during a weekend visit. All I remember was that there were lots of alfalfa sprouts.

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Five Things I Remember

1. My friends E and C were married in a small town on Cape Cod nearly two decades ago. I sang at the wedding though I’ve only now realized I don’t remember which song. We all stayed at a bed and breakfast. It was the first time I’d ever received a “wedding gift basket” and E had to tell me not to tell everyone because not everyone had received one. I wanted to practice w/ E’s aunt (or maybe C’s aunt) who was my accompanist and I found a piano we could use. The innkeeper was angry because it was in his private part of the house. I thought he was only kidding about being mad, so when he asked what I was doing there without permission, I kept giving him smart-aleck answers. I didn’t realize till weeks later that I’d actually been trespassing.

2. My parents told my sister, my two aunts (my mother’s youngest sisters who lived with us), and me that they were getting a divorce around the dining room table. The dining room had flocked stripes in shades of gold. They said we’d probably been wondering why they’d been arguing all the time, but I didn’t remember them arguing. I didn’t say a word the whole time because I really didn’t understand what was going on. Later, going upstairs to the third floor where all the bedrooms were, I asked my father why they were getting a divorce. He told me we were supposed to ask all of our questions at the table.

3. I was in love (or lust or infatuation or something terrible and good) with a young man named . all through college. One day we were walking together and C put his arm around me. But he was holding me from the side where my purse hung from my shoulder and it was uncomfortable so I pulled away. I didn’t know how to tell him that I was just changing my purse to the other side so it would be more comfortable to walk. We kept walking and he was no longer holding me and he had to ask me what “spine” meant because his first language wasn’t English though he’d lived in the U.S. nearly as long as I had.

4. One day I told my friend J that when we were kids and my mom sent my sister and me upstairs to get a belt for a spanking, Debbie and I would test out belts on each other to see which would hurt less. It would take a while but we were kids so the passing of time wasn’t important even if it meant our mom was downstairs getting angrier. ┬áJ said that was a horrifying story. I didn’t understand why she didn’t think it was as funny as I do.

5. One time when I was walking to church alone down Brookville Boulevard to church because I’d missed the bus a man stopped and asked me where he could use the bathroom. I was maybe 9 or 11; I’m not sure. I told him there was a gas station at the corner but he asked me to just stop and watch for cars because he really had to go. He took out his penis and started to pee right in front of me. I walked away.

 

 

 

 

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