Today is my father’s birthday. He is 73 years old. I cannot even begin to fathom what that means. Well, actually, it means that, when On the Road was published in 1957, my dad was 18 years old. My dad could have purchased a copy of this book and hopped in a car and gone anywhere and it would have been exactly the same. Mary and I keep reaching back to this magical time when people were people, being on the road meant no parents or lover or friends calling you. If you pissed someone off in a bar, they socked you in the jaw and nobody called the police. If you slept with a girl and never called her back, you were not forgiven. This time of the world that I spend so much of my time romanticizing, is the time that my dad comes from. My dad is that guy who worked all day and came home and drank a beer and smoked cigarettes. Now when I come home, no matter what time it is, he is the guy who always puts on a fresh pot of coffee for me. I know so very little about his past. For all I know, I may be re-tracing his steps. It was only last year that I found out he was a fucking pole-vaulter in high school. What is that? Who does that?
The man is 73, a respectable birthday, and I could not manage to wrap his presents until moments before I sped off to meet the family for birthday dinner. I’m a terrible daughter. Naturally I was running late, but not as late as I usually am. I was actually pretty proud of myself for using my GPS and getting there in 10 minutes, until I realized I was at the wrong restaurant. So I called my mom, embarrassed, and asked if they were at the correct restaurant, and informed her I was on my way. I did not tell her I was at the wrong place. My GPS said I was only 6 minutes away, which wasn’t so bad, until it was 7 minutes. 8 minutes. 12 minutes. A girl can’t catch a break, but she can catch every light, a city bus, and stay behind Mr. I-can’t-stay-in-my-lane-because-I’m-going-ten-below-the-speed-limit-and-I’m-probably-drunk. 15 minutes later I arrive to a starved (grumpy) family and, joy, my favorite waiter.
You see, my family is that family that can’t just go to a restaurant, they have to go to the same restaurant all the time, every week. And that’s great, it’s cozy, it’s comfortable, until the Argentinian waiter delivers a monologue to your entire family about how he’s been all around the world and YOU, girl who hasn’t showered days and is covered in paint and possibly wearing a sweatshirt from middle school gym class, YOU are the most breathtakingly beautiful girl he has ever met. Before that incident, I noticed that he would stare into my eyes and forget my order. I knew that he touched my hand in the process of refilling my coffee once and his hand shook a little. I was well aware of the fact that he had a crush on me. Unfortunately, all I could do directly following that incident was blush and thank him. My mother was far more composed and thinks it’s the most hilarious thing EVER and never stopped giggling and told me that I sound “mousey” when I talk to him. Every Sunday (our day for going to said restaurant) he would still wait on us, a little dejected, and my mother would giggle and torture me. He stopped working the Sunday shift and my life took a lighter turn but, here he was. Which meant that my mother was giggling at me, still after at least 6 months, and made me ask for napkins and crap like that. My only comfort through the whole dinner was that, as awkward as our relationship has been, that fucking waiter never lets my cup of coffee go below a quarter of a cup and his timing is so coordinated to my coffee drinking habits that I might just have to marry him.
The highlight of the evening was when my dad opened my enormous present. He couldn’t get the tape off the box, so he cut it with his steak knife (that was covered in steak), my brother had to assist in re-assembling the boxes, and the present was so absurdly large for the space that he was swinging it around his head, cursing my tape and my mom and I laughed ’till we cried.
I love my family. I just shouldn’t have come home to watch the episode of Gilmore Girls where Lorelei runs out on her wedding and she and Rory take that road trip. 1. I want to abandon responsibility and drive anywhere that is reasonably far away. 2. I am wondering what might have happened if I hadn’t rejected all the boys I have rejected. I don’t think I wanted even a single one of them, but GOD I wonder. 3. I should have been working on our spectacular Kickstarter video so Mary and I can take the pictures we want and publish the book we dream of and have exactly what we’ve been asking the universe to give us.
It’s been quite a Monday.