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For John

Daddy rested in his chair reading the Chronicle, he half-asleep, his feet propped up on a footstool and his glasses perched on that big nose. I watched him from the balcony and prepared for my attack. Hanging onto the banister, I lowered myself into the living room step by step. I crossed the room watching to see if he noticed me.  In the end, with my head squeezed against the arm of the chair, I peeled back the paper, and he saw me. Next, in his lap, my arms around his neck, I kissed the tip of his nose. His eyes, circled by ridges of skin, looked into mine and I could not hold my question back any longer, Daddy will you take me tomorrow? Please, please, and he answered with a slight smile. He never uttered a word. I knew I was going; he’d be mine for the day.

Early next morning, I crawled into the front seat of the Pontiac while Daddy poured hot water on the icy windshield. The car was running; the heater was on. In no time we travelled down a long stretch of darkened highway. Bored and restless, I prodded him with chatter. Daddy, how far is it going to be? When will we get there? Will it still be cold? Will there still be snow? He had an answer for each question. I loved his belly and the deep lines on his face for he was my daddy.

The car moved up the mountain on a spiraling road to the top where snow glistened in the early morning light. Daddy parked the car at the summit. Within seconds I scooped up the snow and I tasted it. Daddy opened the trunk; he was so smart to have brought cardboard boxes. We broke them down and laid them out flat. He showed me how to slide down the slopes head first on a box. I squealed, giggled, and shot the rapids while climbing back up the hill over and over again. Daddy did too but only once. He spent the rest of the morning cheering me on. He must have gotten hungry, or maybe he got tired watching because soon enough he said it was time to go. Oh, Daddy, no. Just one more time, please. So he let me go down the slopes just one more time: but that was it. We packed up the cardboard and drove back down the mountain.

We stopped at Foster’s Old Fashioned Freeze for a hamburger. I wiggled around the table while Daddy drank his coffee and rested. Then I watched as he played a game with straw wrappers. He put ice water on them and they turned into snakes and moved. Daddy could do lots of things. He could put a penny in one ear and make it come out the other. I saw it. No one else I knew could do that. He could wiggle his ears. He could oil and mold a baseball mitt better than anyone. He was the one who showed me how to hit the bull’s eye by throwing a dart through his legs backwards. I learned my fastball ping pong serve from him. When he put up the hoop for us girls, I never attempted to be as good a basketball player as he was. He’d been a pro.

We finished our burgers amidst games and laughter and piled back into the car. He laid me down on the front seat and covered me with a blanket. Somewhere between the diner and our little town I fell asleep and Daddy took me home.


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