For as long as I can remember, my father has talked to strangers. Not in a “hi, nice to meet you” sort of way. More in a “I’m going to barge into your meal and start talking about refinishing antiques and Braves baseball in the 1970′s, and I’m going to tell weird jokes no sane person would ever understand, and I’m going to be completely oblivious to the fact that you want to spray me with Raid to make me go away and leave you alone.”
In fact, when people squirm and try to humor him, Dad senses their discomfort. It fuels him like nuclear energy. The more strangers act like they don’t want to talk to him, the more determined my father becomes to lurk around their table.
We cooked dinner last night for him and Mom as a combined Mom’s birthday/Father’s Day gift, and Dad was disappointed. He wanted to go out to eat, because he didn’t want to spend a meal talking to us, his family. No. He wanted to find a nice, packed restaurant and proceed to make the rounds to every table in the place and tell them all about the dead body he picked up from Marion, South Carolina yesterday afternoon.
And, he doesn’t even try to make the rounds sometimes. He will just shout at a random diner who makes the egregious error of eye contact with my Dad. “Hey! You should’ve seen the dead body I picked up yesterday! Hey! Dead! Body! DEAD!”
I have been cursed with this behavior for the length of my memory. When I was a tiny girl, my Dad took me to his hangout, sat me up on a twirling stool at the counter, drank coffee and talked to every soul in the place but me. I once picked a fight with him over the height of my ice cream cone versus his just to get him to look my way. I was THREE YEARS OLD. It was all I had.
Now, I am probably worse than three. Yesterday, any time someone walked by our table, I shouted, “DO NOT TALK TO HER, DAD!!!!!!” at the top of my voice (because he can’t hear anything). “DAD, PLEASE DON’T TELL OUR WAITRESS JOKES ABOUT NUTS!!!!!” “THE LADY DOESN’T WANT TO KNOW ALL THE REASONS WHY YOU NEED CAFFEINE-FREE, DAD!!!!!!” “NO, THEY HAVE NOTHING IN GUCCI THAT WILL FIT YOU, AND DO NOT GO IN THERE AND TALK TO THE SKINNY, PRETTY SALES CLERK ABOUT HOW YOU JUST PAID $10 FOR A SHOE SHINE!!!!!!”
Yes, I am hoarse after spending any amount of time with my father. I guess it blends well with the horror that I will be just like him someday. Telling stories to strangers…………………….
Um. Can anyone please help me STOP acting like my Dad?
Too Much is Just Enough: Strangers for my Dad