A woman with Bipolar Disorder who’s dad and stepmom are helping raise her two kids looks back on her misspent youth and her history of poor life choices. This is a small part of a new manuscript I’ve been working on over the past few days, I hope to finish the first draft within a week.
When I finally finished getting up and making myself presentable dinner was already on the table. Dad had cooked pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans, he had gone the extra mile for me and my kids. I was mad at myself for losing my shit and him and Leslie the other day, they were really trying. I wrapped my arms around Dad like a little girl and thanked him, he nodded, pulled me away from him gently and looked me in the eye.
“What’s going on with you?”
“Nothing, I’m not feeling well,” I lied. Or maybe I didn’t lie, I wasn’t feeling very well. It was just that I was pretty sure the issue was mental, not physical, but I didn’t tell him that.
Dad is tall and broad-shouldered, with a grey beard and deep laugh lines around his eyes. I remember growing up some of my friends had a crush on him, and I found it appalling. There was one girl, a little blonde twit named Bianca, who actually dropped things on purpose in hopes that my father would pick them up for her. She was sixteen.
I don’t know what she was hoping would happen, and I didn’t ask. I just told Bianca to cut in out when she got all moon-eyed over my dad and started dropping things on the floor. The worst part was, I think my dad kind of liked the attention. He would never have acted on it- my father is not that kind of man- but I sometimes caught him smiling to himself when Bianca flirted with him, shamelessly asking him if he worked out and how my mother could let a guy like him go. I finally stopped inviting Bianca to my house, when Leslie (who at the time was Dad’s girlfriend) asked why I replied flatly “Because she’s a cunt.” Leslie hated that word, so I opted to use it as much as possible.
“And because she was hitting on Dad,” I said, cutting to the real heart of the matter.
“Oh, Kaye, you really think your friend was hitting on your father?”
“She called him a ‘silver fox.’ You puzzle it out.”
“A silver fox? Well, he is.” Leslie smiled, trying to lighten the tension between us with a little creepy misplaced humor.
“Ugh!” I ran upstairs dramatically and slammed my bedroom door. I was big on that too; the door slamming. The way I misused that door I’m surprised it didn’t fall off the hinges.
Looking back I don’t know how anybody was able to deal with me. At sixteen I could easily have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, but then again, I knew a lot of teenage girls who could have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I lived to embarrass and punish my parents for wrongs they had committed, real and perceived. I was invited a greasy, unkempt boy who was as high as a fucking kite to a family get together, he was kicked out of the home by my father when he ate some potpourri. He just asked ‘what is this?’ and I said “It’s potpourri” but that didn’t stop him from sticking a handful of it in his mouth. I don’t even know what he was high on, it sure wasn’t weed.
His name was Chris, he was a grimy white boy with dreadlocks who never seemed to be quite present, I’d say something and five minutes later he shake his head from side to side incredulously and go ‘Wow. RAD.” I was still sort of seeing him when Derek got me pregnant, I don’t think I broke his heart but it was still wrong. Believe it or not, I was still dating him after the potpourri incident, I think I thought it was kind of funny. It was one of those things that was mortifying at first and then it made me laugh. There are a lot of things in life like that. At first you want to crawl in a hole and die and then later you look back on it and you just start laughing.