Portrait of a suburban dad

September 28, 2017

So I don’t know why, but I’ve felt this need to write about someone in particular lately. I keep seeing his face and thinking about all the things I can remember about the guy for several days now, so maybe writing what I know will get this out of my mind. That isn’t to say it’s been haunting my dreams or bugging me immensely, but maybe it’s just my creative juices churning to do something useful.

I’m 37 years old. I live in the suburbs. I frequently go on walks or runs and see many other men in their yards or driving by, sometimes young fathers, sometimes old timers. A lot of the old “dad” stereotypes are long in the past, but a lot of the time, I see someone that reminds me of him.

When I was five, in kindergarten, I made a new friend. His name was Brad, and his family was new to the little town we lived in. The actual classification was a village, a town under a certain population. It’s now a city, but seems just as small.

Anyway, they moved into a brand new house a few blocks from me. They had just come from Mansfield, and before that, Ashland. His parents and his brother (five years older than him) were all big sports fans, specifically, football.

The man looked very similar to Calvin’s dad from Calvin and Hobbes. Bald, with glasses, but a smile that never seemed to go away. He worked for a food brokerage company in Toledo, and their fridge and pantry were always filled with the newest, best snacks and food. Remember Hostess Choco-bliss? Those things were stuff in the fridge and always an awesome treat when I went over there.

He’d come home from work in a black suit every day. Brad and I would dogwalk up the stairs, and he’d quickly bark out “WALK!” even though we never did. If he was hanging around the house, he’d wear a golf shirt and either khakis or dress shorts.

It was the 80’s, and his tan, 4-door sedan Buick Regal sat proudly in the garage. It was the kind of car that showed status, but not too much. His golf clubs, always in the trunk of that car, were his pride and joy.

The man loved University of Michigan football. On game days, he’d hang the flag with pride outside of his garage. How many times did I see him in a blue or maize polo with a big, embroidered “M” over the left breast? Many.

I only heard him yell in anger once. One Saturday night, I spent the night and when my friend went to the bathroom before bed, he locked the door. For some reason, his dad didn’t like that so he somehow jimmied the door open and screamed about how “we don’t lock doors in this house!” Because, you know, an eight-year-old boy is doing so many horrible things in the bathroom with the door locked.

I never understood why parents enjoy watching their kids take a shit. My whole family often lined up to stare at me as I sat on the toilet. Don’t believe me? Trust me, it’s not something I’d make up. People are strange, but in my opinion, it’s rather sick to willingly want to watch someone take a dump. To each his own, I guess.

So, that was my friend’s dad. I haven’t seen him in years and I know that they moved out of that house way back in the mid 2000’s, but every time I am at my Mom’s and go out for a walk or a jog, I make sure to go by that house. I fondly remember Brad and me playing with GI Joes or Legos, playing Nintendo or watching R-rated movies.

But I also remember his dad.



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