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What a Jerk!!

When I was a little girl, innocent and bright-eyed, my parents divorced. This was the first and most prominent scar in my life, although I didn’t entirely understand what was happening at the time. My mendacious father swore he’d visit me all the time, no matter what, and insisted I be strong for him, as if he’d given me a reason to do anything for him. He kept his promise for a grand-total of 2 weeks after moving out, calling when he got off work and taking me on diminutive weekend adventures, which were as epic and wonderful to me as tree-stars were to Littlefoot in The Land Before Time. Clearly it was only a matter of time before the phone calls diminished to five-minute small talk and our visits were as rare as snow in Texas.

Then, one sundrenched Friday afternoon, I heard the chiming of the phone from the kitchen. Flinging my prized Barbie to the floor, I ran towards the noise, craving the sound of my daddy’s voice, sonorous and supposedly loving, on the other line. “Hello?” I squeaked with anticipation into the receiver, my last drops of hope icicles liquefying in the scolding sun.

“Hi, baby girl!” My wish had come true! My heart overflowed with bliss as he weaved intricate lies and false hope in my mind. We hung up and I bounced with joy, proudly announcing my plans for the next evening to Mommy. “Daddy’s coming! Daddy’s coming!” I sang, as visions of Putt-Putt Mini Golf and strawberry ice cream at Zilker Park flitted through my head. I scrambled into bed and tried to settle my nerves. The faster I fell asleep the sooner my beloved and “munificent” stranger would be here. At long last, I drifted to sleep, only to be brusquely awoken by the sensationally sweet smell of warm buttermilk pancakes, what seemed to be only a few minutes later. I devoured my breakfast and endeavored to think of something, anything, to occupy my time until Daddy got there. I played with my kitties, transformed my closet into a space shuttle, baked cookies in my Easy-Bake Oven. I played with nearly all my toys that day, attempting to distract myself. Finally, six-o’-clock rolled around and I bounded out the front door, gripping a sticky red Popsicle in my tiny hands, to wait for the much anticipated guest-of-honor. I plopped onto the pavement and tried to be patient.

By six-thirty, my Popsicle was just a drippy stick, so I found some crumbly chalk to scribble with. By seven, it was too shadowy to draw anymore, so I just sat. I sat and watched the headlights of each passing car, hoping one would slowly swerve into our driveway. I sat and suffered through every flicker of optimism my adolescence had given me disintegrating. I sat and waited.

Nine-o’-clock came and he still wasn’t there. Mommy lingered in the doorway, watching before carrying me inside for chilled milk and fresh, melt-in-your-mouth brownies, a bite of comfort to restore my broken heart. I tried to veil my tears from her as I scrutinized one last car, glimmering and cruel, dashing by.

I kept hoping he’d call and apologize and reschedule for a long while after that night, but he never did. In fact, after that day, we never talked again. His fabrications were just clever ways to help him pretend that he was needed, that his actions had an effect on someone. However, I realized as I grew older that I may have thought I needed him as a juvenile child but what I needed was a real father.





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