Whenever Father’s Day rolls around, we’re reminded of the examples our dads set, the expectations they had for us, the wise advice and the love they gave us. Father’s Day also brings back fond memories of the crazy things our dads did and the wonderful things they did—the outrageous failures and the sublime triumphs. Father’s Day 2014 has come and gone, but it brought back a very special memory for me once again.
Dad taught me to read and write a year before I started school. As a consequence, I was advanced a grade—I skipped kindergarten—and was the youngest in my class all the way through elementary and high school.
Thanks to Dad, I loved to read, and I loved to learn new things. I always had my nose in a book. It served me well at school because when the teacher asked a question, I usually knew the answer. My voracious reading also taught me much that wasn’t in the school curriculum, so I occasionally raised my hand to contribute this additional knowledge. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I was very probably the teacher’s pet because of that.
I also made enemies in my class because of that. There were a couple of not terribly bright boys (I’m being kind; their combined IQs failed to exceed that of laundry lint), who were furious that a brainy little girl made them look as stupid as they actually were. One day, they cornered me in the schoolyard, pushed me around and threatened to break both my arms if I ever raised my hand again to answer a question.
Yipes! In addition to always being the youngest in my class, I was the shortest and skinniest. Those beefy boys were a lot bigger than I was in both height and width. If memory serves, they had no necks. I was afraid of what they would do to me. If both my arms were broken, how could I turn pages to read and how could I write?
On the other hand, I was even more intimidated by what my parents might do to me if my grades suddenly plummeted. No allowance (which meant no ice cream money). No TV. No riding my bike. No Saturday matinees at the movies with my friends. The list of punishments was potentially endless and unendurable.
So there I was, a kid in fifth grade, stuck between a rock and a hard place, trapped in a living nightmare. It was a tough decision to make, but make it I did. I decided to go with broken arms.
The next day in class, I raised my hand to answer questions. One glance at the two brainless bullies gave me reason to believe that they were not amused. My assumption was correct. When school let out, they were waiting for me outside with a death sentence in their eyes. I knew I was doomed.
What made the situation even stickier was that I lived within six city blocks of the school and wasn’t eligible to ride the bus. I had to walk to and from school, and I walked alone—but not on that day. I had company of sorts on that day. The two elementary school thugs dogged my steps all the way, cussing at me, calling me names, punching me, kicking me, and shoving me. I clutched my precious books as tightly as I could to keep from dropping them, and I tried very hard not to give the fifth grade goons the satisfaction of seeing me cry.
It was a very long six blocks. When we finally turned the corner onto the street where I lived, I had a momentary feeling of elation. My home was just past the house on the corner. I was within reach of sanctuary, but there was one last torture to endure. The side of the corner house was lined with shoulder-high (for me) thorny shrubs. My two twisted tormenters shoved me into those shrubs with their piercing thorns. As soon as I righted myself, they shoved me into them again. And again. And again—laughing all the while. I had bloody scratches on my hands, face and shins. I was crying by then, feeling utterly defeated, and I thought I would never make it home alive. That was when I saw a familiar figure come rushing down the sidewalk in my direction, and my heart skipped a beat.
He wasn’t supposed to be home from work yet. It was much too early, and yet there he was, the cavalry coming over the hill in the nick of time. My hero!
The finger Dad had pressed to his lips told me not to give his presence away, and I didn’t. The laughing idiots were about to get the surprise of their misspent young lives. Dad grabbed both bullies from behind and lifted them into the air. They stopped laughing instantly and howled in terror. Dad whacked their empty heads together hard enough for me to hear the crack when their thick skulls collided. To my immense satisfaction, the little goons cried harder than little girls. Dad slammed their heads together again and said, “Tell your fathers what I did, and tell them why. If they don’t like it, tell them where they can find me.” When Dad dropped them, they took off as fast as Usain Bolt. Okay, maybe not that fast, but I’ll bet they came close. My fondest hope was that they also wet their pants.
As it turned out, Dad came home early because he had a monster headache and wasn’t feeling well. He was coming down with a virus. It was a first, because he never got sick and never missed work. In my estimation, he couldn’t have picked a better time for that first.
The two would be mini-mafia goons never bothered me again. If the mafia didn’t eventually recruit them, I suspect the National Football League probably drafted them. I mean, neither one had a discernible neck.
Dad never heard from either of their fathers, ever. The two creeps were dummies to be sure, but I think Dad must have knocked some sense into their skulls, literally. They apparently developed just enough smarts not to admit to their fathers that a little girl’s dad bashed their heads together because they were bullying his daughter.
Dad seemed at least a foot taller to me after that momentous rescue. He was my hero from then on. Although he’s gone now, he still lives on as my hero in my favorite Dad Memory. He always will.
Does anyone out there have a favorite Dad Memory to relate? Share, please. 🙂