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My Dad This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     "You did good, Just," my dad said in his normal quiet tone. I had just walked in the door after my school's playoff football game. As always, he was sitting in his chair at the kitchen table, right under the phone that he spent so much time on. The house was totally dark, aside from the kitchen light, and silent except for my dad's voice. It was already 10:45 and he had to work the next day, but he had stayed up to talk about the game.

"So, what'd you think?" he asked. He always wanted to know how I thought I had done before commenting.

"I wish we had won, but it was fun," I replied.

"It looked like you were having fun out there," he said with a smile. I could see the satisfaction on his face, and his tone let me know that he was proud.

"Yeah, I can't wait 'til next year," I said, happy to know I had made him proud. For the next half hour we discussed the game.

This might not sound like anything special but my dad doesn't even like football. Sure, he played in high school, but now he's more of a NASCAR kind of guy. Besides that, he was a wrestler in school, and everyone knows how that works: it is almost a given that the son will follow in his dad's footsteps and wrestle too. When all three of his sons decided they weren't going to take the same route, I can only imagine Dad's disappointment. But he is the type of person who is proud of everything we do as long as it makes us happy. I know he only talks about football with me because he knows I love it; he is proud of my passion for the game.

At 5'9" and 165 pounds, my dad isn't exactly the biggest guy, but he never misses a night of working out. After a long day of work, he goes upstairs to do hundreds of sit-ups followed by several sets of push-ups.

"You can't just get old and fat," he says as an excuse for working out.

One of the greatest things about my dad is his love of cooking. Ever since I can remember, he has made the best pancakes on Saturdays. The smell of bacon and sausage was our alarm clock. I would hobble down the stairs to see him working on breakfast.

"I hope you're hungry," he would say with a smile that seemed almost unimaginable so early. "I can't throw any away, you know." I'd walk to the stovetop to see his typical, plate-size pancakes cooking to a golden brown. "Here it comes!" The first one was always a trial run, mostly to soak up all the cooking spray. Like a UFO, the gold disc came flying through the air toward my plate.

"Nice throw," I said sarcastically as it fell to the floor.

"Nice catch," he replied humorously. His good early-morning mood was like a billboard that read "It's going to be a good day."

The pancakes were a refund for being tricked into buying an extra two hours for the day. Waking up that early was never a positive for me. He'd sit at the table and we'd enjoy our breakfast. He always eats like he is in a hurry.

"You gotta finish it before it gets cold," he would say, barely understandable since he always talks with food in his mouth.

The greatest thing about my dad, by far, is that he always puts his family before himself. He will do anything as long as it helps someone else. For example, when I was almost 16, I got it in my head that it was time to start looking for a car. I did research, looked at ads and visited dealerships, but there was one stuck in my mind. I knew that, no matter what else we looked at, I wanted a Monte Carlo.

"You like that truck there?" Dad would ask. "How about that Blazer?" He didn't really want me to have a Monte Carlo because there was no reason to. I would be hunting, snowmobiling and a lot of other things for which a truck would be much more useful. Despite his attempts to change my mind, I, stubborn as a mule, didn't budge.

"This Monte Carlo looks pretty nice," I would say, trying to get him to at least tell me something promising.

"Yeah, it does, other than that dent. And it looks like you've got plenty of rust on the underbody," he'd point out. He never would blatantly say it was a pile of s--t, but he had a sort of smart-aleck way of doing it. Eventually, I would realize that it wasn't a good deal.

After looking at what felt like hundreds of cars, I found the one. It was a white 1995 Monte Carlo, just what I had been looking for. It was by far the best I had seen and a good deal, too.

"That one is pretty nice," my dad said, cautiously. Hearing something positive from him was definitely good.

I had finally found the car I wanted but discovered that someone else was already interested. I called one more time at the end of the day to see if it was still there.

"Hey, Justin, your dad's here right now. You want to talk to him?" the dealer said.

"I guess so." It was a huge surprise to discover that Dad was there.

"What are you doin' there?" I asked.

"I just came by to see if I could make him one more offer, but it looks like she's gonna take it." His tone was definitely sympathetic.

I was in the basement when he came home that day. I hadn't felt so down for as long as I could remember. The house was quiet; my family was walking on eggshells trying not to say the wrong thing to me. Man, I wanted that car! I walked upstairs to see my mom and dad standing in the kitchen.

"Whaddaya want for supper, Just?" he asked. "Why don't you go get some chicken breasts from the freezer in the garage." When I opened the door to the garage, I saw the greatest thing I ever imagined. Right where I expected to see my dad's work van was the car! It was like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I couldn't believe he had done that for me. It proves that although he was sly as a fox, his only intention was to make me happy. I don't think I could ever pay him back for what he did, or for being the great father that he is.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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SMWells said...
Dec. 13, 2010 at 12:04 pm
Not hard to see why this one was printed. Good job. You already sound like a famous auther.
 
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