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Best Of 2021: Becoming Friends With Your Dad

About a year ago I wrote what it was like to have a hyper-masculine father figure raise me, and now, I need to get something off of my chest. I wasn’t completely honest. 

Yes, my dad…

...and I had a distant relationship. I never had the experiences a father and son usually had. Those were all projections on my end of what the perfect dad could be.

My dad had a dated idea of what being a man is. His edges are hard and he always puts his work first, and parenting second. A typical blue collar Republican like Wes Goodman or Larry Craig. Every morning at the crack of dawn, he would put on his work gloves over his cut up hands, grab his tools, and be the first and last man at the florist. No other dad in Wheeling, WV could even come close to my dad's ability to bouquet a brutal bunch of bougainvillea.

On the rare occasions when was home, he really tried to be that typical father figure. He taught me to shave, but I remember the other boys in class making fun of the nicks on my legs. The only time he wanted to play catch was at wedding receptions with the other bridesmaids. When he agreed to take me to a car show, he was shocked to find out CAR wasn't an acronym for Cats and Rent.

I don’t blame my dad at all for the distance. If anything, I blame my mom. English is not her first language, and the language barrier always made things hard, and my dad's late onset lisp didn’t help things either. Mom would always be furious when my dad fought younger guys at the billiards club (she complained she caught him 'hitting on' a 'pool boy'), and she always mentioned how she "found some blackmail on him". When I asked what it was, my mom, always confusing her interrogative pronouns, replied with, "I think you mean 'who'  it was." It seemed her anger carried over to me, and because of that, my dad and I were never close. I grew up soft, while my dad stayed the course of grit. He was a grindr. I made it to adulthood without ever really knowing the man.

Until now.

A few months ago, my dad moved to New York City. I decided to reach out, knowing full well we were opposites. But little did I know, some of my interests, and the Big Apple itself would rub off on him.

Now we debate art. I enjoy paintings from Monet while he admires the photography of Favre. We discuss music, I like Garfunkel and he loves Simon. He is putting himself outside of his comfort zone, as I caught him second wheeling a dinner with a boyish hairless man in Hell's Kitchen. He used to loathe fashion, and now nobody can get him out of his closet. He got his first taste of culture, as he now constantly repeats a Spanish saying that roughly translates to "Livin' the crazy life." We even have a little sports rivalry. I root for the Knicks because thats my name, and he roots for the Nets because he loves the legendary players (Durant, Kidd, Collins).

Even some of his more masculine habits have rubbed off on me. We smoke cigarettes like our favorite cowboys (mine Wayne, his Gyllenhaal), and it even garnered the attention of what I can assume was a car full of Frenchman, who directly acknowledged my dads cigarette. 

I guess what I'm getting at is, for all those motherfucking Stoolies out there that don't have the best relationship with their old man (I'm assuming the majority of you), know it's never too late. You may end up surprised.