A bit of a diversion. I started watching Mad Men lately. It begins in 1960, which is only two years after I began. Watching Mad Men has made me long for my dad. The world the show portrays is the world my Dad lived in; that snap your fingers to the music, sexy smoker, wink your eye kind of executive life. Yes, oh yes, my dad was suave.
While most people write about how their dad’s built them a fort or took them fishing, my dad simply made me swoon. When we went on vacation, as we drove across the plains, he taught us fraternity drinking songs. On summer evenings, while fire flies twinkled in the growing twilight, my dad chipped golf balls in the back yard and asked me to hand him his high ball in between shots.
I sat and watched adoring as he shaved in the mornings before driving off to the city and into his mysterious work world. On the weekends, after he got home from golfing with a client, I combed his thick black hair and planted kisses all over his face on the couch while we watched Arnold Palmer win Master’s tournaments and U.S. Opens.
I knew by the time I was five that my dad had a beautiful golf swing, that he was a six handicap, that he loved the track (he took me when I was seven) that he was a smooth salesman, one of the best for Uniroyal the maker of Keds tennis shoes.
When I was older, after my parents divorced in a 1970’s ‘it will be better for the kids’ kind of divorce, he took me out to expensive dinners and after our meal, we would dance. My dad was a very good dancer. He would twirl me around the dance floor and I always, always felt like I was five again, swooning in the bathroom while he shaved.
There was more to him than golf and work, naturally. He read. He was a great reader and conversationalist and he loved opera. Tears would form in his eyes when he listed to Nessun Dorma. Jussi Bjorling was his operatic hero and later he became a Pavarotti fan. He could sing along to all famous tenor arias as well. He had a lovely tenor voice.
He died too young. All those cigarettes, smoked so suavely, caught up with him. That life, that snap your fingers, listen to Andy Williams, make a business deal, wink at the secretary kind of life, was like a fuse lit on a stick of dynamite – flash! boom! it’s over.
He was my oh, so handsome, dad. He was my idea of what a father should be: swoon worthy.
I miss him on father’s day.