My parents live in Calgary but come to Vancouver as often as they can.
Which is like every few weeks.
And I love it.
They stagger their arrivals for some reason. Maybe for time alone? This last time my mum enjoyed Vancouver by herself, then my dad and I arrived together a week or so later. Chaos ensued, as it always does when my dad is around. Then my mum left today. Without my dad. Leaving him, and his chaos, with me.
I love my dad. I would say I have a good relationship with him. Friends always say my mum and I are alike, but I think deep down, I'm more like my dad. Well, we have the exact same bad qualities, which is probably why chaos is always surrounds us.
Here's the thing: my dad is a retired, Albertan farmer who worked in various high-up government positions (he would run the farm from his office). This included a stint as a foreign diplomat in countries such as the former Soviet Union and Australia. This is a man who would wear a suit one day, and the next would be in grease-stained overalls fixing a combine. He has an actual redneck. I kid you not. It is red on the back, and comes around the front to form a perfect 'V'. He can also speak Russian, lived in outer-Mongolia, and at one time knew some pretty powerful players.
This is the man that when I called to tell him I sold a television concept I could hear cows bellowing in the background because he was at a bull sale. Plus he's a wine connoisseur.
He's pretty much the smartest person I know (a thing all daughters probably think about their dads but in this case I am right), with a masters and completed certificates in things like securities (I don't really know what that means. I know it's a boring course about finance or something). He doesn't show emotion, he is always slightly grouchy, he thinks the best jeans are the cheap ones, and I suspect he voted for Stephen Harper.
His flesh and blood, me, is the complete opposite. I am outgoing, bubbly, I giggle, smile a lot, talk fast, think it's fun to spend money on pretty things, and am generally a non-understandable species in my father's eye. I almost voted NDP last election but decided that was too far and settled for Liberal.
Where are we the same then? We are both ridiculously stubborn, have short-fuse tempers, and generally have no patience for people who don't agree with us.
Lethal combination? Yes.
Needless to say, when I see movies where the doting father calls his daughter princess and sprinkles her with kisses, I think they must be from a foreign planet. Once I hugged my dad and he asked me what I was doing. When I told him, he was happy, uncomfortable, but happy. So I generally don't hug him. He tells me he loves me by putting oil in my car. Once, when he saw me on stage, he told me he was proud of me and that I was doing what I was meant to do. Not to my face though. No. He was fiddling with the blinds and then ran out of the room.
We are a non-emotional folk.
Unlike those movie dads, he is not scary to boyfriends. Okay, he used to be, but I think now he is just desperate for a man to marry me and takeover the bills. Ha! And he loves the Engineer. The son he never had. Actually, it's the kid in business school he never had. The fact that the Engineer is getting an MBA and has a job at Goldman Sachs is like a dream for my dad. It's not that he sees a man who is stable and will take care of his daughter. Oh no. He's obsessed with the world of finance. I suspect if he could live life again, he would live it as a businessman. He loves to talk about the Engineer's MBA. Unfortunately, neither are big talkers so they basically grunt at each other about the economy and the pros of working for a big bank. In fact, they can be sitting on the couch not talking and my dad is thrilled.
Anyways, the point of this entry is the fact that I am now alone with my dad. I decided to pick a fight the other day by telling him I was considering becoming a vegetarian after I read an article about the slaughtering procedure. I thought it would be okay to eat a cow that was killed nicely and treated with compassion. If there is such a thing. I think I almost gave him another heart attack. His veins on his head were protruding. This is the man who was raised on an Albertan beef farm after all. I once called him to ask about a cut of beef required for a recipe. He sent me a chart of the cow and its cuts of meat to put on my wall.
Just wait until I tell him I am switching over to all-organic produce. It will blow his mind.
We also have the weird awkward father/daughter thing when it comes to bodily functions. Namely my time of the month. When I was 13, we were on a vacation where I made my dad pull over at every rest stop because I was terrified of having an 'accident'. He kept grumbling and asking what my problem was. I told him I was drinking a lot of coke. Odd that there was no coke in the car and he didn't clue in. I was so embarrassed about him knowing.
Once, Superstore had a sale on supplies. Well not one to pay full price, my mom wanted to stock up. Trouble was, she was at a curling tournament (is that the most Canadian sentence or what?). So she made my dad and me go get them. He asked me which ones I wanted. Burning in embarrassment I told him they were for mom. He said he knew they were for me too. I wanted to DIE. And he was sort of sad. Like I wasn't a little girl anymore.
Fast forward 17 years, and you have my father, my 30-year old self, and that time again. Except now I suffer from dibilitating cramps. To the point where I take special drugs straight from the doctor, and lie with a 'warm buddy' on my back and tummy. I also call the Engineer and tell him I hate him. For no other reason than my pain is so great I am mad he is a boy. So here's my rigid father, always with a list of things to do from the moment he wakes up (isn't retirement fun?) from watching me organize my office and telling me to throw things out, to cleaning out my storage and shopping for light bulbs.
But I am still too embarrassed to tell him I hurt too much to move. So I called my mom to tell her to tell my dad to lay off.
I'm so lucky we are such a close, openly emotional family.
My friend breast feeds in front of her father. They even have a conversation. I am fairly certain my dad will throw up in his mouth and then run away to his office until my child is weened.
I am quite sure the Engineer will say I tell too much information but I know I have lots of readers who (a) know my dad and/or (b) have equally awkward moments with their dad.
My last awkward moment with my dad? When he had to pull me out of a too-small Bollywood Bridesmaid outfit.
Oh dads. Without you us girls would have never felt sufficiently weird about reaching puberty. Or know how to change a tire (I wasn't allowed to get in the car until I knew how. What happened when I had a flat? I called CAA. Much easier). And, in my case, drive a tractor and know the difference between a Black Angus and a Hereford. Do you?