I just re-read my last post and realized I haven’t written anything in a looong time. Sowwy fwends! Honestly, I had a ton of stuff going on this last month (new job, new classes, new life/love status). Anyway, YOU look great! How are you?
So, I said I would talk about my parents. Ever attempt suicide? Me neither. My parents did a pretty good job for the most part. In fact, the older I get, the more I love my parents… more than I ever thought possible. They are such incredibly different people and it’s an absolute wonder how they ever came together, wed and reproduced, but they did (points EXISTANCE!). Then they split up – the best decision for all involved and probably the kindest gift they could have given their children. Pro’ly gonna get a “fuck institutions” tattoo now… just decided.
yeah it kinda hurt - but it was totally worth it.
I have too many stories about my parents to tell them all at once. You don’t end up being a comedian, vying for laughter (and subsequently love and attention from strangers) because your parents were super well-adjusted adults. BUT, though my folks may not have been the sanest of people – they were awesome. First story is gonna be about my dad.
Here’s a snap-shot of my dad:
-often picked me up from school wearing a variety of offensive t-shirts (e.g. “bring back capital punishment” complete with hanging corpse)
-learned what “rock-paper-scissors” is on a plane in 2011.
-would surprise-fight me as a kid to ensure I mastered the skills of self-defense.
-has played bag pipes for the Prince of Monaco.
-unable to pass a dog withought saying hello via head scratch
-sets off flare every time he arrives at cottage to let neighbours know he is there.
-offered to get me a gun to keep in my house when I was nervous about a robbery up the street. when I protested saying “what if someone uses it on me” quickly replied “that’s why you damn well make sure you use it first”.
-sleeps under more blankets than any other person I’ve ever known.
-regularly provokes children with unwanted, spontaneous water fights.
-introduced me to jimi hendrix, zz top, the beatles and led zeppelin.
-great at impressions and accents but will NEVER perform on command
-cleans vigorously and often.
-built the best tree fort of all my friends, including child-sized trap door to second floor. (SECOND FLOOR.)
-made me re-upholster a boat the one and only day I was at our family cottage during the busiest summer of my life.
-super duper soft spot for his only daughter: “the light in my life”
-cannot sit still. At all. Ever.
you are ready, daughter, now use your training wisely.
Starting every summer from when I was about 10, my brother and I were allowed to invite one friend each to the cottage for a weekend. It was the best. We camped on islands, went out in the canoe, built fires, and generally had the most fun you can possibly have at any moment in your life. FLAMINGO FAMILY COTTAGE VACATION! The summer I was 14, my friend Katie (who I still adore) came with me. Katie and I had become really good friends and bonded over a love of dance* and a lack of suave sex appeal many other girls at school seemed to have fallen into over night. We were so excited to get away and be our “real” selves – wild girls.
finally, I can be the cool person I know I am inside.
We spent the entire car ride planning all the fun we would have and talking about the guys at school we were sooooo into: Travis and Ryan (I totally made that dream come to fruition, but at a much later date. I attribute the time lapse to the maturation of my crush over high school, and NOT to the fact that I looked 9 from 1993 to 2001). WE WERE GONNA HAVE THE BEST TIME EVEERRR!! NOBODY ELSE KNOWS HOW WILD AND SEXY WE ARE!!
For some reason, we thought we were going to party hard the first night we were there as we would be sequestered from the cottage and my family in our little tent. The only issue was that we had not put any plans in place to accomplish said partying. After hours of debate and nervous scripting, we asked my dad if he would buy us alcohol. He said no and was not impressed. After that blew up in our faces I think we tried smoking some dried grass rolled in leaves and seeing if that made us feel not-sober. I don’t mean grass as in weed, but grass as in the long green stuff that cows eat and that obesssive compulsive suburbanites tend to daily because they don’t have sex anymore and their kids hate them. Ya know, dirt hair. We were so desperate to experiment with drugs and the freedom of being our “real selves” but we weren’t really cool (or bad) enough to know that you had to ask Nic’s mom well in advance if you wanted a hook-up for a weekend. We had no clue how to get stuff or from who. Actually, I think it’s whom.
OF COURSE I'M HAPPY JUST LOOK AT MY LAWN!
The next day we woke up sans hangover and for some reason we decided we wanted to build a raft. My dad and grandpa had a ton of plywood and scraps under the cottage and my dad agreed to let us use the tools. Now, here’s where things got a little difficult. Katie and I wanted the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from a job well-done, but my dad is a type A maniac when it comes to EVERYTHING (I have no idea where I get it). This is a man who will do every project to completion, to the T, to the max and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him more uptight and anxious about anything than when he watched us fumble with the tools and try to build a floating boat after 3 months of wood-working class and literally no plan at all other than “let’s just see what happens”.
The situation unfolded like this:
Jess & Katie: um, should we, like, saw this part?
Dad: how is this going to float, girls?
J & K: DAD! Go away. UGH!
Dad: ok, but first, you know that if you just put this in the water and sit on it, it’s going to sink, right? You know that right?
J & K: oh my god whatever! We’ll just put a tube under it or something
Dad: wha- no no no. A tube? Seriously? Ok, why don’t I drive you to Canadian Tire and we’ll get some empty water coolers. We can attach them with rope, we’ll drill holes through the, the main protion you’re constructing right now and-
J & K: DAD!!! Oooohhh my god. No. We like it like this. It’s sooo cool! Like, retro or something.
Dad: Jess, please, let me help you. Just at least let me drill a support board underneath so it won’t capsi-
J & K: DAAAAAD!
Dad: ok, ok ok.
a little gummy-pop over here, a little tap-dance to the left aaand DONE!
My dad paced around the vicinity of our construction zone, shaking his head and wringing his hands. It was actual torture for him. When Kate and I would run off to grab a drink or get supplies, we would return to find his small additions to our raft. A jagged nail had been hammered down, a knot had been re-tied with boy scout expertise. Eventually, we got it all done, and took it for a test run. And guess what!? IT FLOATED! We tied our homemade raft to the dock, and drifted on the lake in the sun. We were so proud of ourselves. I still think of that as one of the coolest things I ever did… Wow. I just realized I need to make more rafts.
My dad came down to the water to check things out and though he continued to berate our craftsmanship, I could see that he was really impressed with us for taking on a giant endeavor and somehow managing to complete it successfully with little help. I handed him my camera. We stretched out and then both covered our faces with our hats (cause that let’s people know you don’t care what they think… you’re relaxing, HARD.) My dad would not take the picture “Guys, uncover your faces!” I was putting up a fight but he protested “Jess, I’m telling you right now, when you’re older and you look back on this day, you’re going to want to be able to see what you looked like, so take off your goddamn hat” (he was right). We lifted them off our faces. As soon as the photo was snapped and we had appropriately immortalized our craft, my dad said “now get off that f*cken’ thing and help me take it apart. We are burning it in the fire tonight. I can’t stand to look at it any longer”. He was not kidding and we were ok with that.
The thing is, I knew that it wasn’t the greatest raft in the world, and that if we had “saved it for next year” it would have ended up rotting under the cottage. But it really was the first time, through adult eyes, I recognized that my dad was just one of those people that hates doing things half-assed and will always go to the ends of the earth to “get it done right”. I am a lot like that, but not entirely. And though I figured out a lot of crap about buoyancy and splinters that day, I also realized that my dad and I have different styles – but that they can both be good for different things. I also learned that if you do a job really poorly around someone like that, they’ll eventually just do it for you – thanks lesson, you helped me pass grade 11 math and server training!
We cooked marshmallows over our axed up project and I have to say, they were delicious! I’m just glad we weren’t hung-over from all that grass smoking – I can’t handle sweet stuff after a night of partying.
*Katie and I were not allowed to play out field in softball together because we made up dance routines instead of paying attention to the game.