The picture of my Dad on his wedding day is so classic; red wavy hair, confident smirk, dashing tux. Growing up he was the handsomest man on the planet and I relished all his tails of devilish boyhood adventure.
Like how he frequently performed as altar boy in weddings because of his red locks and frequent shiners – the perfect combination of good ol’ Catholic childhood innocence and street smarts.
Then there were all the stories about daredevil motorcycle stunts – riding through and over chain-link fences to escape bad guys.
And bar-fights with shady good-for-nothings who Dad took out so innocents were safe.
And trips across the country in blinding rain and hail and snow – just him and his Harley.
And his faithful dog Max by his side in every adventure, jet black and bigger than any grizzly.
You know, my dad can tell a good story, and my imagination shaded in every missing detail until Dad was the bravest and the baddest dad ever.
And you know, I was the scardy-ist, wimpy-ist girl I knew. Mom and Dad had to tie a pillow to my butt when they taught me to roller-skate and I remember HOLLERING in the parking lot – scared stiff! I cried at every challenge – skating, biking, memorizing the 50 states, you name it – scared.
In middle school, I had a very brave friend. To me, she embodied “cool.” She slept in a waterbed, she wore a bra, and her parents let her have sleepovers with friends when they weren’t home! I was so in awe.
One night a bunch of us were over at her house and someone mentioned that a crazy math teacher lived down the road. This math teacher taught at the high school and was mean and gave really hard tests and deserved some crazy middle-schoolers to TP her house! Suddenly we were all in a frenzy and raiding the vanities and closets for rolls of toilet paper. I was SO SCARED. Scared of the dark, scared of getting caught, scared of going, scared of not going.
What tipped me over the edge was thinking about Dad. What would Dad have done? Surely he would have been out front, leading the mob, beating up the cops if they came!
I slunk along quietly. I couldn’t bring myself to actually unroll any toilet paper, so I tucked my Charmin under a bush and ran back a little ahead of the group. But I had gone and I was so proud.
I waited all the next day to tell my parents about what I’d done. I was sure they’d be so proud of their little law-breaker – finally busted out of her inhibited ways, on the road to bigger and badder deeds! I looked Dad right in the eye and told him all about that stupid math teacher and how she really deserved a little payback and how we all marched over and gave her a taste of her own medicine. The chip on my shoulder was 10 feet high.
And then the big surprise.
The hammer came down. Hard. Did I mention Dad’s an attorney- that he knows the law – laws like what destruction of private property is, what happens to you when you trespass, what the cops do to juveniles who break curfew and how much the fine PER role of toilet paper found on your person is?
I couldn’t believe he wasn’t proud of me! I was so disappointed, but maybe secretly relieved he didn’t have plans for me to rise to the next level and blow stop signs on a pink Harley.
Phew. I was safe.
Grounded, but safe.