Fictionalizing my Dad.
People sometimes thought my Dad was conservative because his hair was short and he always wore suits to work. But he was one of the most liberal people I’ve ever known. In some Ways, he was even more liberal than my mother after she went all “hippie” on us. He accepted everyone – like when my sister came out as being gay. He accepted it immediately.
Nine-year-old Julia stumbled up Second Avenue on a sunny, cool San Francisco afternoon, her hair disheveled and her torquise bell bottom pants dirty. She wore a patch over her right eye, and the bell pinned to her light blue windbreaker made a soft ringing sound.
A bright green and white Volkswagon puttered up the street and stopped alongside Julia. The hippie in the van resembled Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead with long, dark hair pulled back and beard. He wore a colorful t-shirt like many of the other hippies who hung out in Golden Gate Park.
“Hey, Julia! What’s wrong?” he yelled out the half open window.
“Everything!” Julia said. She continued to trudge up Second Avenue.
“Where are all your friends?”
“Dad, I don’t have any friends. I hate my life.”
“No, you don’t. Get in.”
Slowly, Julia shuffled over to the Volkswagon van and got into the passenger seat. Usually she loved riding in the van with her Dad – it was one of her favorite things to do. But today, nothing would make her happy. She sniffed and wiped her nose on her sleeve.
“Look, I know life can be weird sometimes, but it always gets better.”
“Everyone hates me Dad, and it’s all because of this stupid patch I’m wearing, and those dumb glasses. I’m a weirdo.”
Dad laughed as he puttered up to Irving Street and made a left. The van lunged and jerked and beads which hung down behind them made rhythmic sounds.
“We’re all weirdos, sweetie,” Dad said. “But I know something that’ll make you feel better.”
“Really?” Julia brightened in spite of herself. Only her dad could make her feel better, no one else, not even Mom.
“Well, I think it’s about time we go down to the pet store and get that guinea pig you’ve been wanting.”
“For real Dad, ohhh yes! Please can we?” Suddenly Julia forgot about everything that had happened earlier with David O’Leary, Benjy and the gang. She had wanted Stubs, the three-legged guinea pig who resided at the pet store for a couple of months now, ever since she first met him. His long hair was golden brown, and he still got around on three legs. You couldn’t even see that he was missing a leg unless you turned him over. No one seemed to want poor Stubs, but Julia wanted him more than anything in the world. He was a guinea pig, just like she was at the eye doctor office. She was blind in one eye, and Stubs had three legs.
“Yeah, it’s time. Let’s do it. Do you feel better now?”
“Yes, yes I do Dad. Thank you so much.”
Dad pulled into a parking spot and accidentally hit the curb a little. Both of them looked at each other and laughed.
“Oh yeah, and one more thing since it’s almost your birthday…” Dad said.
He pulled a beaded necklace off him with a beautiful, carved peace symbol at the end – it was a one of a kind, not like the other ones Julia had seen. He put the necklace on Julia.
“Wow, thanks Dad,” she whispered. This was his coveted necklace that he wore every day, and now it was hers. She felt as if she didn’t really deserve it – yet she was thrilled Dad entrusted her with it.
Julia and her Dad hopped out of the van. Dad grabbed Julia’s hand and they walked down Irving Street toward the Friendly Pet Store.