I saw a Dad at the train station today with two teenage daughters. One of the girls had an insane case of green hair that reminded me of Anne of Green Gables’ mishap. Both girls were chatty with their Dad, clearly enjoying some sort of private joke. They looked so happy, I couldn’t help but stare for a bit. That is until the Dad noticed I was staring at them. I quickly looked straight ahead, pretending I’d been searching for a face in the crowd.
How long has it been? Three years? Four? It’s not that I’ve lost count and already forgotten you, Dad. Really. I remember you every Father’s Day and every birthday that we didn’t get to spend together. But sometimes making a point to forget the exact date makes it easier to remember you as I chose to remember you.
Humans are a funny thing. It’s amazing how different people can have entirely conflicting opinions of a single human being. To some, you’re not remembered in very kind terms. But to me, there will always be an element of fondness attached to your memory. And if I was to be brutally honest, a slight hint of ridiculousness as well.
You never had the slightest taste in fashion, Dad. It was shameful, really. I still remember with a shudder that one time you went to an interview dressed in kaki shorts, dress shirt, and a fancy tie. Kaki shorts and tie. Goodness! Who does that? And of course all those 10+ year old t-shirts you refused to throw away. Your top two favorites were an aqua blue one with some sort of a green shrub in the front, and a red one with holes along the neck. One time I had the brilliant idea of hiding both of them! I figured you’d simply assume they were dirty and grab something else to wear. And maybe over time gradually forget of their existence? But you were onto my evil scheme in less than 5 minutes and demanded the stolen goods be returned.
You loved the Beatles. There is this Beatle’s compilation CD that is red with a yellow 1 on it. You always had that in your car. But the 6th track got damaged one day and we always had to skip it when you played it in the car. I remember how I always refused to skip the 6th track until the song became completely unintelligible. I always insisted it might “accidentally” work again if we just gave it a chance. Your response each time was to roll your eyes. But you never made me skip the track until I was ready. You were kinda cool that way.
You also had an appreciation for jazz, but mostly for Kenny J. When we drove the car by ourselves somewhere, 95% of the times I could convince you to either play the Beatles’ red CD or Kenny J. You had a few other CDs in your car, but I didn’t care about those one bit. I only liked the Beatles’ red 1 CD and the Kenny J one. After having me force you to play the same 2 CDs over and over again for 10+ years you’d think you’d have ended up hating both of them. But I think you found my stubborn loyalty to only those 2 CDs humorous. And I could tell you thought I was kinda cool for liking that Beatles’ CD so much.
You were a pretty awesome listener. I always had a million stories to tell you about my day! I talked your ear off for hours at a time, but you never seemed to mind. Even when I kept you up past 1 a.m. When I went to college I would write you long emails about my “adventures” because you always replied. And you didn’t just formulate a quick reply. You would comment on each individual story I had told you about, and interject words of snarky wisdom about each scenario. Like the time I told you I was sure no “cool guy” would ever notice me. “Cool guys” didn’t hang out with short book nerds. You told me that I wasn’t any regular book nerd…I was an “Olverita.” And us “Olveras” were more than just “kinda cool.”
You always made me feel proud of my last name. You always said that us “Olvera’s” were too smart for our own good. You instilled an appreciation of sarcastic humor in me, and loved it when my comebacks were just as good as yours. When my comebacks started beating yours, your eyes would get wide in surprise and you’d give me a high five. You always said any guy I ended up with would have to pretty smart to keep up with me. I always liked to believe that was true. It made me feel kinda cool.
You seemed to think I was quite pretty. Sometimes I felt that you had some sort of mystical insight, which would explain why you thought I was crazy to not feel beautiful. But what teenage girl ever feels fully beautiful? You always said the same corny line to me over and OVER AGAIN. “A girl with a big smile is always the prettiest girl in the room. Guys are suckers for a pretty smile. If you like a guy just smile at him, and he won’t know what hit him!” I would roll my eyes at you…mostly because I didn’t believe a word of that bullshit. But still…it was kinda cool of you to try to make me believe it too.
You never seemed to like taking pictures, Dad. I think I just realized that. Mostly because I’m not sure I have any pictures with you. Not that I need one to remember your face. Because I remember you better than you will ever know. I remember your dark, brown eyes. Your perfectly straight smile that I was so jealous about. (Even if your front tooth that was chipped by accident once so you’d had a dentist “add” a corner to it.) But mostly I remember your black hair, a distinct shade darker than even my own brown hair. I’ve always thought black hair was kinda cool.
You always believed I could be a famous writer if I wanted to. When I told you about my latest story, you always had suggestions about how to make it more realistic. Sometimes you pointed out that my characters’ actions didn’t make sense. And then you’d warn me that if my characters didn’t make sense, that I would have a hard time getting publishing companies to give me an offer for my book. I would get mad, pout, and threaten to not tell you about my stories anymore. But then you would point out that that was clearly a lie, because I loved talking too much. Damn it. I don’t think I ever admitted this out loud, but I always thought it was kinda cool of you to take my writing ambition so seriously.
You never got to see me take an interest in coding. But I know that if you had, you would have experienced literal shock at this turn of events. But trust me, it woudn’t have been just you. I’m still shocked at this myself! But you gotta admit that having a daughter following in your footsteps is kinda cool.
You were quite the character, Dad. You could always make people laugh so hard when you felt like it. You had the best poker face ever when you so chose. You were a bit of a genius in so many ways. You were even a talented writer yourself, which I always thought was kinda cool.
You know what, Dad? I choose to remember you for all these things because I can. And despite life…I will always think you were more than just “kinda cool.”