Happy Father’s Day

Silly Putty notable-comic-book For Father’s Day, I want to give my dad something that he would actually use. Something different that he’s never had. Maybe even something that we can do together.

See every year the gifts we give him end up in the drawer and never gets opened. One year I gave him a pair of pajamas. He now has over 5 sets of pajamas in his drawer.

Another year, my brother gave him a tie for his church suits. His drawer now has several different ties. See having five kids, I guess you can’t wear or use every present you get. And I guess he tried to protect us by hiding this fact from us.

That is until the day my younger sister, Nancy, found the drawer and found the pajama she had given him, the year before. The grey and white stripes on the flannel still pristine wrapped in its original packaging. My mother was pissed and sarcastically jokes with him that he is creating a stock pile for his ‘next’ life back in Ecuador.

This of course caused a big argument between them. They yell at each other & scream that they have had enough of each other. But we all know that, hidden in the sarcasm & dry humor, mom sadly also knew that he will divorce her.

We, deep down inside, knew that dad will return to live in Ecuador and actually have a stock pile to take with him. Our feeling is that he is fulfilling his obligation as a husband & dad until the last one of us is old enough. That day he will move on. Maybe even get himself another wife & possibly even get himself another set of kids.

So anyway, I gave my dad Silly Putty – I love Silly Putty!!! Now I am hearing you say “What the heck…” and yes that’s exactly what he must be thinking. But you know what! He actually spent time playing with me. We molded stuff and even picked up the images off his ‘help wanted’ newsprint.

Just like Silly Putty, children pickup impressions from the environment and from the people in their lives.

How my dad behaved, that day, left a lasting impression on my life! Even though this day turned into an argument, the minute or two, he actually spent it with me stays with me. He’s never really done that before, but on his special day, he gave up those minutes for me.

This I will never forget!

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Boogie Nights

Boogie Nights Something weird happened today and I’m not sure how to even talk about it. It feels like a nightmare that I cannot shake. Every day after school we spend the afternoon outside playing. Playing ball, playing tag, chasing one another and even riding our bikes.

You know kids in the neighborhood doing what kids are supposed to do – being innocent and having fun!

That is… all kids with the exception of little Peter. He is only 4 maybe 5 yrs old and his mom is really protective over him. The only times I see him out is when his mother takes a nap. He sneaks out of the house, not to play with us but to go to the gray house at the corner of Warren and Salem.

He happily skips and hops his way over to that house.

The gray house is the home of an older couple with no kids. The lady is quiet and goes to work six days a week. The man is gray-haired and seems to have retired early, because he tends to the garden everyday and is always outside in his yard.

As we walk home from school, he greets us and offer us candy from behind the bushes. Many kids don’t even know what he looks like – but I do. See my father is friends with this guy, but I find him to be very strange. I don’t know why but I am freaked out by him.

But Peter seems to like him enough to go to his house every week. He goes there by himself at least once a week and spends over an hour there.

One day I asked him “what do you do at his house all that time?”

“We play games and eat candy.” He replied, but he would look away and not go into detail of what games they play together alone.

One day when he came out crying I asked him what happened. This time he did say that they danced to music and watched a movie that he did not like. The movie made him cry.

Yesterday my dad wanted to go visit the people in the gray house and insists that I go with him.

“No!” I replied “I’m not going!”

But my dad insisted “they are nice people and we have to visit with them.”

We went anyway. My dad was going there to teach him the bible and wanted me to learn how to do it.

The house was dark. The furniture was wooden, stained dark brown, with a brown tweed fabric that even thought it was in good shape, always looked dirty. The walls were wood-panelled in a honey-colored stain. The grain was deep but looked worn from years of usage. The lighting was very dim with only table lamps lighting the immediate area.

I never understood why someone would choose to live in such darkness.

Anyway I asked my dad ” dad, can I leave now! please”

Finally after nagging him enough, he let me go. I rushed out the door so quickly.

Later on my dad catches up to me and asks me “what happened back there?”

I finally broke down and told my dad what I felt. “I don’t like going to that house dad. Peter tells me that he does some weird things, dad! They play alone together and Peter sometimes comes out of that house crying.”

“What are you talking about?” My dad replied. He continued with “They are nice people, how do you know that Peter is telling the truth. You have to be sure of what you are saying before you judge anyone! You have to love thy neighbors no matter what opinion you have of them.”

This is not unusual, dad never takes what I say seriously anyway. I wish I had someone to talk to, but my dad just won’t listen.

So today, I walked home alone and sure enough he was there working in his yard. He stops me by offering me my most favorite candy: “kid look at what I have – a Three Musketeer bar.”

The words “love thy neighbor” ring in my head and I choose to give up my suspicions of him and accept him for whom my dad says he is.

It was a mini bar and he added “I have plenty more inside.”

We talked for a bit and he says “come inside & I will give you more Three Musketeers.”

The words “love thy neighbor” ring again so I accept his invitation and went inside.

No judgement!

Inside we played games and ate candy just like Peter said! Then about 45 minutes of playing he says…

“I have a game…

bet you’ve never played it!

Its fun! I promise.

You’re gonna love it!”

“Can I teach it to you?”

He gets serious and says “the game is a secret though! It’s a big kids game – I’m not sure if you’re big enough to play this game…”

“Of course I am!” I insist “let me play!”

I should have notice something was off when he made me promise I wouldn’t tell anyone.

Anyway he gets off the floor puts on a record – I still remember it – it was Boogie Nights by Heatwave. I remember it well! It is my favorite song. It used to be, that is until now. He then comes over and sits right next to me on the sofa.

Instantly things start to feel weird. He speaks softly and moves in slowly now. Almost as if he is deliberately trying to avoid scaring me. He puts his hand, slowly, on my knee and tells me “relax. There is nothing to worry about…”

Now I am really shaking…

Then he says: “Open up your pants and …”

Before he could finish his sentence I was off that sofa and out the door! Sorry, I cannot love this neighbor… I knew what he wanted and I was not going to play those games!

But poor Peter! I just realized that he has played that game before and he is keeping that secret.

I now know why Peter’s attitude had change lately. He did not skip back & forth anymore. He walks there with his head down and his shoulder seem to just droop – like he has lost his spark.

I know he has a hard life at home, with his dad never being home & his mom being controlling. I’m sure he does not have anyone to talk to – even if they did listen – I’m not sure they would want to hear the secret he’s keeping…

This is enough to stress anybody out! Deep down inside, I know that Peter has changed from the many times he’s gone into the darkness of that gray house.

I know that the one and only time was enough for me. It left a lasting impression on me. Like a nightmare, it lingers in the shadows of secrecy. It is one thing that even though I want to forget, I have not been able to do.

I wonder if Peter has been able to forget…

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