My Father’s Son

I was 16 when I got my learner’s permit. Soon I would know the freedom of driving a car. As a 16-year-old, this is basically the peak of the American Dream.

Only problem is the learner’s permit meant I had to have a guardian in the passenger’s seat while I drove. My father, he’s like the Buddha. I’m not sure I have ever seen him upset or out of control. But most of the time it was my mother in the passenger’s seat. She would be making all kinds of horrified sounds: “Oh!” “Watch out!” She would put her hands on the dashboard and yell out orders like, “Put your blinker on!”

Often I would stop the car and tell her I was going to walk home. She would pick me up a few blocks down the street like some troubled teen movie and I would get in and we would drive home in silence.

My family and extended family are big on holiday gatherings and BBQs. The longer I have been away from this tradition, the more I have missed it.

Recently, I flew home for one of these gatherings. It’s funny how distance and time change your view of things. I watched one relative get completely wasted and then go on a rant about how much they did not approve of another relative’s lifestyle. They tried hard to involve me and anyone in earshot. I played like my father, the Buddha. I could barely keep from saying, “I thought you were a hippie once. When did you become a fucking Republican!?”

Family gatherings might be best held every 5 years. It’s like getting a tattoo: you go back after you forget how much it hurts.

Back to being 16 with my temporary driver’s permit:

We were at a family gathering at my uncle’s place. He had served as a professional polka drummer for 10 years, playing the wedding circuit. As a musician wanna-be, I was very impressed by this. He told me many times, “When it’s your job and it’s paying your rent, it’s a totally different feeling.” He was not implying it was good.

But his parties were great and always alcohol-fueled. My older cousins spent the afternoon sneaking me rum and Cokes. By nightfall, I was a very drunk 16-year-old.

I have almost never seen either of my parents drunk and to this day, maybe only seen my father drunk twice. I saw my mother approaching, so I quickly finished my latest rum and Coke and set it on the table. I don’t know what I was thinking. My breath was probably awful and every time I closed my eyes, I would start spinning.

But she didn’t notice. In fact, she said, “Your father and I have been drinking and are going to need you to drive the family home.”

Everyone lived.

Written by Daniel Overberger

Edited by Nancy Winebarger

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5 Comments

  1. Diane said,

    June 20, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    You gave me a big laugh. Thanks. You described your parents well.

  2. Jose said,

    June 21, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    I enjoyed your story as much as your class. See you Wednesday.

  3. Christine said,

    June 22, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Such a great story. Reminds me of my family. I ran from all of it but would give anything to travel back in time and attend one of those family parties.

  4. sharon klisura said,

    June 23, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Good job !


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