“It’s Daddy, you shithead! Where’s my bourbon?”

June 17, 2007 at 1:16 pm (Waxing Nostalgic)

You might recognize the above line from the movie Blue Velvet, David Lynch’s 1986 suspense thriller. I’d originally intended to write about that today, and wish my ex-wife a happy birthday. (She’s still in her forties! Evil snicker…) I’ll go in-depth with Blue Velvet some day, but since it’s Father’s Day….

I met my ex-wife while working in a C-store. She wheeled in a shopping cart with $17 worth of empty beer bottles, demanding to exchange them for full ones. Since the big grocery store a block away had just closed, I suggested she leave the cart overnight and redeem them in the morning: there, where she’d bought them. After much spirited debate, (i.e. a lot of yelling) she asked, “Will you take enough so’s I can get a six-pack?”

She’s Native American, just over five feet tall, and looked about fifteen. “Yeah, right. Got ID?” That’ll shut her up.

“Yes, I do.” She slapped down a state ID. She pulled out a birth certificate, a WIC card, an OLCC server’s permit. In all, nine pieces. Then she said, “I even have ID for my kid.” Sure enough, on the welfare ID it said ‘Unborn Child’. Then she provided an ultrasound photo of the embryo.

“Okay, okay. ONE six pack…” Anything to get rid of her.

A couple of weeks later, as I was leaving work at 1 AM, she appeared on the sidewalk. “Hey! Know where I could buy some weed?”

I gave her a funny glance. “Sorry, I only sell groceries.”

“I wasn’t implying-” she glanced at the store. “I just thought maybe you’d know someone. My brother wants a half-ounce, so I told him I’d ask around.”

She was looking mighty cute at 1 AM. “Well, I don’t sell it, but I’ll smoke some with you if you want to come over…” Said the spider to the fly…

“Nah, but thanks. I’m pregnant, remember?”

I hadn’t. She sure didn’t look it. She had a muscular build on a petite frame, long black hair down to her ass, full lips covering a big smile. I chose to walk with her a while.

By the time we were done walking, it was 4 AM, and we had accumulated a small group. I wanted to spend more time with this girl, so I invited her to my apartment. Her friends came along, and after an herb session, most of her friends passed out around the room, while she, her hot little friend, and I ended up in my bed. I felt so cosmopolitan, sandwiched between these two tan-skinned babes.

A head count the next morning showed nine people had spent the night. All strangers. Oh, that one hottie I slept with? (I specify slept with.) She was fifteen. She looked older than my ex. My ex shooed them out of the building, then came back. “Take me to McDonald’s for french fries and I’ll ignore the fact you molested me last night…”

“Better you than your friend. Did you know she’s fifteen?”

She shrugged. “First bed she’s slept in in a week, I’d bet.”

The next night, I slept at her place. I met her ‘brothers’, a couple of gay dudes she’d grown up with in Washington County. In the morning, a knock at the door; it was my adopted brothers, Freewheelin’ and Phineas, who had hunted me down through work. Eyes like golf balls as the ex ran to the bedroom, wearing nothing but panties and a pillow. They had the company car, were on a road trip to Newberg, and wanted to know if I wished to come along. I did.

Throughout the summer, I spent a lot of time with her. She’d sworn to celibacy until the kid was born, but I hung around anyway. We spent long nights playing cards, and I taught her black and white photography.

The night my daughter was born- wow. The ex had been in labor for 72 hours, requiring four trips to the hospital. I worked until 3 AM, then beelined to Good Samaritan hospital. I smoked a whole pack of Vantage cigarettes that night. (I’d average a cigarette a week before that.) I had originally been invited to watch the birth, but in those days only one visitor was allowed in the delivery room, and at the last moment, her mom won out. (Which I completely understand, especially after her mom said I was being blamed for everything under the sun, including the pregnancy, during the delivery.) Her mom drove me home after I’d given her (ex, not mom) a big kiss, and met my current and future daughter.

I got home at 7:20 AM, curled up in a ball and cried with happiness for half an hour. My life had just changed.

The ex mended quickly, and after a four-hour conversation, we’d decided to move in together. A few months later we would be married. My mom wouldn’t babysit a love-child, and I wanted to see Pink Floyd perform The Wall in LA, so we got married on Groundhog’s Day, and Pink Floyd was our honeymoon. (We didn’t make it. Ever tried hitchhiking the west coast in February?) Instead, we told no one we were back in town, and spent three days in bed, enjoying all the things she couldn’t when pregnant.

My daughter was (and is) the bright spot of those days. For a while I was chief bottle-maker and diaper changer, and those days as Mister Mom are among my happiest memories.

When she turned six, my ex gave up custody to the state, and since I had no legal rights, she went to live on the Blackfoot reservation in Montana. I would get occasional pictures and updates on the sly from her maternal grandma, but I didn’t see her again until she turned seventeen, when she’d returned to Oregon to look us up. Imagine my jaw dropping when, one typical afternoon at work, this gorgeous seventeen-year old came in, walked right up and gave me the biggest bear-hug imaginable. The ex seemed surprised I’d recognized her. I wasn’t. I’d know that smile anywhere.

These days, she’s doing fine. I see her around, she lives a couple of hours from here, but doesn’t come to the city often. I see the ex every now and then. It’s always an occasion- usually involving a french kiss and a size-me-up look. It always surprises whoever I’m with.

These days, I live with a couple of preteens, my sister’s kids. I frequently spend a bit of time with another set of kids across town. I have the gutter-punks downtown to yell at, so it’s not like I don’t feel paternal sometimes. But I like being the creepy uncle.

You know, the one who lets you watch South Park. The one who encourages you NOT to play with fireworks, but will teach you handgun safety if you ask. The one who will tell you truthfully, without the lecture, the difference between smoking weed and smoking crack. The one who won’t buy you beer, but won’t give you too hard a time when you come home drunk the first time. Or the second time. (But I will tell you in specific terms how you might miss those brain cells some day…)

Yeah, I’m better at fathering other people’s kids. My responsibility level hasn’t always been the highest, and the powers of the universe seem to know this. I’m a better nutritional supplement than a full-meal deal.

Then again, my dad didn’t start having kids until he turned 49. Gulp. Note to self: condoms are still 12 for $1 at Planned Parenthood. Like checking your smoke alarm batteries at daylight savings time, maybe single guys should buy a fresh dozen every Father’s Day. Like a Boy Scout, come prepared.

Then, if it happens, it happens. Some things were just meant to be.

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