Once upon a time, we were driving back from Tairua, with a full load across the double bench seats in the Kingswood, when a guy crossed the centre line in his father-in-law’s Mercedes and took us out.
Mum’s brother and his wife were over from Australia and the driver packed his panties when Uncle Johnny stepped out looking like a Hells Angel and said, “fuck maaaaaaaate, you were fair fuckin’ flyin’ ’round that corner!” Dad was picking up pieces of door trim from the asphalt and said to Mercedes Man “you’re not gonna believe this mate, but that’s my pride and fucking joy”. He wasn’t talking about his kids…
For reasons outside the scope of this post, Dad didn’t have the best role model when it came to being a father, but he tried his hardest. All he ever wanted was for us to be independent, successful and happy.
Imagine his frustration when, although I was the fastest on the field over 60m, I threw every single race at athletics – because I didn’t wanna get a ribbon at the end. Despite hours and hours (and hours) of practise, I couldn’t catch a ball, and I took (waaaaaaay) longer than the average bear to learn to ride a bike. It took him a long time to accept that I wasn’t going to be successful at sport…
When it came to driving lessons, I would remove the vehicle from the road completely to avoid injuring an animal, even if that animal was well and truly D.O.A. I didn’t apply myself at school – it wasn’t cool to be smart, and I sure as shit didn’t apply myself at University. I maxed out credit cards, and drew down “living costs” on my student loan, even though Dad politely asked me not to, and emphasised that we should always live within our means.
Dad taught us about respecting others (“don’t you dare speak to your mother like that”), respecting property (“if you slam that door again you’ll know all about it”), and respecting ourselves (“is that a skirt or a scarf? Go and change. Now!”), but he wasn’t great at teaching us to respect authority.
We got pulled over in the Datsun one night and Dad was breath tested. Dad took offence because he was adamant he’d only been pulled over because of his choice in vehicle, and asked the officer why he hadn’t pulled over the woman in the BMW, leaving the pub with only one headlight. He told the officer that his name was “Mickey Mouse” and advised that his address was “none of your fucking business, mate”, he was wearing a t-shirt that read “When hot rods are outlawed only outlaws will drive them”.
Dad has always given great life advice like, “you need to behave for your teachers, even though some of them are idiots, because one day you’ll have a boss, and he’ll probably be an idiot too”. And, “why would you want to be the vet’s receptionist, when you could be the vet?”
As he’s got older the dad jokes have got worse, “what do you call a detective who’s an alligator? An investigator!” and “what’s orange and sounds like a parrot? A carrot!” Dinner table convo has also got more contentious, “Usain Bolt has gotta be on drugs – he’s beating the guys on drugs, he’s on drugs!” and “what I want to know is, has Caitlyn Jenner chopped his cock off? Because he’s not serious about it until he’s removed his cock.”
We have a large extended family and raised voices aren’t confrontations, they’re just conversations, differences of opinion are just that: opinions that differ, and disagreements are neither offensive nor defensive, they’re just opposing views.
Although Dad would quite like me to meet someone, get married and for them accept financial responsibility of me, he’s never made me feel like there’s anything wrong with having an epic relationship failure rate. Dad always manages to remain agnostic, despite having a heartbroken daughter crying in the kitchen, and I’ll always remember he asked what went wrong, I said “he said I was too much”, Dad replied, “no daughter of mine will ever be too much, darling”.
You did good Dad, you did good.