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No One Else Like My Daddy
I hop into his 1989 Ford F-150 pickup truck. The smell of mint gum and the sound of Fox News Radio blaring from the ancient, scratchy speakers welcome me (even though I am a liberal Democrat and absolutely abhor Fox News), into a familiar place where I spent 90% of my childhood. He takes of his cowboy hat before entering the truck, like any old fashioned Southern male would do, and places his dark green cooler that houses his insulin shots between us.
“Hey, baby. How’re you doin’?” he asks in his deep Georgian drawl.
“Fine. I’m doing an audition for the Drama Club Monday,” I say, making sure to enunciate, since I had long since sworn not to enter the real world talking like a hick.
“Good, good,” he mumbles as he turns out of our yard and onto the rural paved road that is littered with broken shards of Bud Light bottles from various neighbors. The primordial truck roars as it struggles to climb the small hill a few yards from our home. There is complete and utter silence between us. The only sound in the truck is Sean Hannity screaming about “liberal agendas”, and the occasional uproar of laughter from my dad when Mr. Hannity says something he agrees with.
Eventually, his laughter dies down. He drives with eyes fixed on the road, his hands wrapped around the steering wheel in a death grip. I quickly recognize that he’s in one of his moods, brought on by irregular blood sugar. He goes into random spasms of rage, gripping the wheel until his knuckles look like they’re about to pop right out of his hand. He purses his lips and inhales sharply with a look of complete, unadulterated fury. He lurches to the left violently as he yells out sharply and turns the truck to the left, off of the rural road and onto the more bustling highway.
He always drives too fast when he’s in a “mood”. I watch the speedometer; 30 MPH…40 MPH…50 MPH. He slows slightly and turns violently to the right, knocking my head into the window. I try my best not to show any pain whatsoever, since my pain or discomfort only sends him into a rant about how I’m so unappreciative and selfish, and how I complain too much. I knead the side of my forehead, and brush my fingers over the fresh bump that borders my hairline. The setting Georgia sun streams into my window and shines on my cheeks, almost as if God himself were trying to remind me not to cry, and that it would all be over when he got to the nearest gas station, got something to eat, and took his shot, if needed.
It finally become too much for me. I lean forward slightly, prop my elbow up on the green cooler that houses my salvation from his temper, and stare out my window, trying with all my mental strength to escape from him and his temper. After a few minutes, which seem like hours, the sharp inhaling ceases. I cautiously look at the speedometer out of the corner of my eye: …45 MPH…35 MPH…30 MPH. He taps my arm playfully.
“You’re ain’t gonna fall asleep on my, are ya?” he asks, with boyish playfulness apparent in his voice and on his face.
I sigh a mental sigh of relief. His mood is over. I’m free from the heavy fog of his blood sugar-induced rage.
The tires crunch along the gravel in the Ma-And-Paw styled-rest stop. He opens the door, which squeaks with age, and slams it, stepping towards the entrance. Once I hear the obnoxious ding of the old-time bell by the door, I let my emotions loose. Hot tears race to my chin as a feel the scar on the back of my thigh that his metal-tipped cowboy boots left on me when I was 5, after I had taken too long to find my favorite stuffed dog in my room. He had been in one of his moods then, too.
I hear the bell again, and quickly wipe my tears and bring myself back together again. He comes in the truck with my favorite snack: Hot Fries and a Diet Dr. Pepper, and a Moon Pie and Diet Coke for him.
“You okay, sweetheart?” he asks, with genuine concern.
“Yeah. Just tired. Had a long day.”
He shifts gears, and drives out of the rest stop’s parking lot. He does what he always does when he exits one his moods when I’m in the truck with him: he turns the station from his Fox News station, to my favorite Hip-Hop/Soul/R&B station. The familiar voice of Beyonce flows from the speakers, unaffected by the speaker’s scratchiness.
“I'm so emotional daddy,
Every time I think of you,
I get emotional daddy,
Every time I think of you.
There is no one else like my daddy,
No one will replace my daddy,
Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy…”
“So, how was your day, baby?”
And his mood officially ends, doomed to rear it’s ugly head again.