Posts tagged with "father"

Finding Love For Two Bachelors

The fact that my dad and I are the eligible bachelors in the family means we get a lot of advice around the dinner table. They bring up available women. Friends of friends, daughters of dance partners, or this-person-I-know.

It’s strange to come upon the sudden realization that my dad and I are at the same point in life. Does that make me old, or him young?

They ask us our tastes: Looks? Personality? Older or younger? I say, “Money”, but they know me well enough to know I’m joking. A joke to hide my answer, for to reveal myself in this way is to expose a certain vulnerability. So they sidestep the question and ask me if I’m after anyone, thinking that if I describe a person I’m interested in, they’ll be able to figure out what I’m looking for. It’s complicated, I think to myself, so only reply with a “No”. They ask me if there’s anyone after me. “No”. That’s even more complicated.

Last week, my grandmother asked me how old I was. “28”, I told her. “Already! You’re almost 30. It’s time for you to get married.” She says if I stay in Hong Kong all the girls will be after me because I have some kind of gentleman scholar look. My dad too; he’s the man’s man, who’s always been fun and popular. And we have Canadian passports. Apparently, we’re in demand.

But they also want to make sure we’re not getting involved with the wrong type of women. Someone who will take our money once we’re married, or force alimony once they trap us with children. They tell us to keep an eye on each other. I say that my dad doesn’t need my approval if he wants to get married, but I don’t need his approval either. So they tell us to bring our girls to meet them, to be sure they’re okay.

I wonder; is love this easy for other people? Something others can control, when I can’t control it myself?

Typical Of My Dad

(This happened in Chinese.)

Around the dinner table, my aunt mentioned that it was her daughter’s birthday, and that it happened to be Friday the 13th. My dad said to me, “Isn’t your birthday on the 13th too?”

“I don’t know”, I said rather loud and sarcastically.

My dad was in trouble. All the family around us realized that he doesn’t know my birthday. So he said a date (and year, as if reciting a historical event) with a hint of uncertainty in his voice.

I don’t think he was ever more relieved than when I told him he was right. Not because he got the right date, but because he didn’t seem like such a bad father to everyone else.

Father-Son Bonding

I called my dad on his birthday this week. After the divorce I would never call him, special occasion or not, simply because I needed to distance myself from the situation. He did call me on mine last year though, which reestablishes a sort of precedence and ritual, and he actually thanked me for the call.

We made the usual small talk, about work and home.

Mercedes Benz SLK 55 AMG 2006

He told me he bought a car: a 2006 Mercedes Benz SLK 55 AMG hard-top convertible with 18″ rims and 7-speed-automatic transmission. He’s going to keep the Beemer for winter driving. It filled my heart with quiet joy when he said I could drive it the next time I visited him. Not so much because he was letting me (for I was always allowed to drive the Sportline 300CE while living at home), but because I could tell in his voice that he wanted me to try it.

I asked him if there’s any history of colorectal cancer in the family, which the doctor wanted to know at my last appointment, to which my dad answered, thankfully, no. He shared with me his own health concerns, the medical terms of which he only knows in Chinese. These are things I avoid asking about when I visit him, as he pops some pills from a bottle kept with the dishes in the kitchen, and I realize that I’m learning more about my dad than ever. It’s not so much out of a need for privacy or avoidance of embarrassment, but simply out of convenience, as these topics would never get brought up.

It’s strange to bond with him in this way, only after so many years of leaving home.

I remember him trying to teach me photography when I was younger, but he soon lost interest, in both photography and me1. Maybe it’s the distance that makes us appreciate each other more, and it wouldn’t be the same if we lived in the same city.

In a way, I’m glad to have the relationship now, and I’m able to forget that I’ve never had it for most of my life.

  1. As such, all my photography is self-taught, aside from one trick used to zoom a lens towards the subject so that the edges are blurred that he showed me at the Statue of Liberty. []

Conversations With My Father

We’re standing in his garage in our pajamas, with winter coats on. After a short drive around the block to bring the oil up to temperature, he pulls out the bright orange dipstick to teach me how to check the level.

Even though he’s never seen what’s under this hood before, he knows where everything is. Every nozzle for every fluid, every connector to every part. A sixth sense that all dads seem to have, like when a steak is cooked medium rare, and when the TV is just big enough.

This is the first time we’ve ever done something like this. A strange sort of bonding I rarely had in my childhood.

Inside, I’m showing him how to use Photoshop, to take the wrinkles out of his friend’s faces. Anything helps at this age, I suppose.

In my heart, I wish my dad had shown more interest in my photography. I wish he wanted one of the prints I brought, maybe to show other people and say that he was proud of me. But he didn’t. And I say nothing because it’s one of those things that shouldn’t have to be said.

He keeps bringing up his dance partner. The person who called him to make sure I arrived safely from the drive. He wears two new earrings in piercings that weren’t there the last time I saw him, a gift from her, and I wonder if “dance partner” is his euphemism for “mommy”.

I’m too scared to ask.

There’s no reason for me to stay more than a night, because there’s nothing more to be said.

Papa Was A Rolling Stone

My dad called. After 14 months without contact.

Not that I wasn’t expecting it. He e-mailed me two weeks ago (flagged with the little red exclamation point to note that it was important), telling me that he was having a party on New Years. “Can you come and join us?”, it said.


Is he dating now, I wondered. Married?

I sat on this e-mail, unsure of what to say. A little while before this, Merv struck up a conversation with me about fishing. I told him I used to go to this one fishing spot at a lift-lock in Peterborough with my dad, and it made me wonder what I would say if I ever talked to him again. He didn’t even know me when we were on speaking terms, how would he know me now? I’ve changed so drastically in the last year.

We never left things off on bad terms. We just stopped talking to each other, so there wasn’t any animosity, on my part, at least. I never contacted him because I never felt like it, and I was expecting years to go by before he contacted me.

Then he called on the weekend. It took me by surprise. I thought e-mail was a way for him to stay distant, while fulfilling the minimum parental responsibility. I had guests over and was entertaining and somewhat charged up. He started talking to me in Chinese, and I could only reply in English. It was too much for my mind, and I was too much on my guard. So I told him to call me next week.

And he did.

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