After my parents agreed to split the punishment duties between them, for the longest time my father would come home with one of those wooden glider airplanes you used to be able to buy at the store where he got his paper in the morning.
My father was good for coming home with cheap little things for me to play with.
I had no idea what they cost and I appreciated the hell out of them…for as long as they lasted.
My favorite toy were these little glider airplanes. Sometimes he would bring the kind that just glided when you tossed them but other times he would bring the kind that came with the rubber band that you fastened underneath the plane that made the propeller spin.
He would sit down at the kitchen table and assemble it for me and I would go outside and it would be good for about 10 minutes of fun before I would break it all to hell against the sidewalk or I would accidentally toss it on the roof or up in a tree which ever came first.
My father worked as a social worker at a place called “The Friend of the Court”.
He would take me to work every once-n-awhile and I would get fawned over by all the women in the office.
One woman I remember in particular was a really nice lady who favored my cousin from Chicago.
She ended up jumping off a bridge to her death about 12 years later to avoid prison for taking bribes from clients.
I was not sure what my father did there or why he would let me go to work with him but it was nice to see where he went when he left my mother and I in that apartment every morning.
One thing that I thought was very peculiar was how my father spoke when he was around us and how he spoke when he was at work.
Make no mistake about it, there was a way that he spoke when he was with his friends and family and there was a way that he spoke when he was around “work people”.
Ok, let’s not mince words here. I know he is going to read this one day so I might as well tell it exactly as it was.
You could always tell who he was talking to when he would get a phone call at the house. If he was making sure every one of his words were enunciated properly and if his laugh was disingenuous then you knew he was talking to someone “white”.
I remember him and my mother getting into a heated argument about how my mom pronounced the word “Hungry”.
She apparently had made the cardinal sin of actually saying “Hongry” instead of Hungry when his boss was over one evening for dinner that evidently caused him a tremendous amount of embarrassment.
Evidently we weren't as adept at being bilingual like my father was.
To my ears, hungry and hongry were the same word. Whether I said I was hungry or hongry I got the same result, food in my belly.
And what made this argument even more bizarre, besides the fact that I remembered it, was that he would have never said anything had it not been his boss over that night.
We didn’t know any other white people.
Maybe he was just pissed off because white people couldn’t tell the difference between Hungry and Hongry. Evidently black people could because he never cared how we said it when there was nothing but black people around.
I had thought that language was about communication but apparently there was a lot more to it.
I started off kinda unsure about my father. I mean, he was cool and all, but he was too complicated for my mind to guage at that time.
He spoke two or three different languages. He left the house everyday. He administered punishment.
I am sure my initial apprehension towards him had a lot to do with how we started off, with him being the enforcer and my mom being the narc but it also had a lot to do with how so many things changed when he came around.
Besides his normal way of “talking” and then his “white” voice he used with white people, he and my mom also had a language they would use that was all there own. When I was around and they didn’t want me to understand what they were talking about they would talk to each other in this abbreviated garbled speak just so that I wouldn’t understand what they were saying to each other.
I never tried so hard in my life to decipher something as I did what they were saying to each other.
It seemed that just as I thought I might be making headway they would up the encryption and I would be back to square one.
If it looked like I was starting to get a feel of the lingo they would vary it up by either getting lower or softer or even more garbled than they were before.
What were they saying????
I would stand there and just stare up at them like, “What the $%^$?”
No one else in my life ever did anything like that.
This I am sure played a huge role in my initial distrust of my father because my mother only spoke like that when he came around.
Naturally I blamed him.
Plus, I wasn’t completely sold on some of his friends.
His friends didn’t have names. At least they didn’t have names like you and me. They had code names. Big Bull, Tip, Isakiwi what kind of names are those?
My father even he had a few nicknames of his own. I had a choice, I could call him Gene, Eugene, Dad, Dap, Father, King Gene or King Gene Dap Daddy Supreme.
And he answered to all of them.
So King Gene Dap Daddy Supreme had a friend name Big Bull, my god father’s name was Tip and his best friend’s name was Don aka Isakiwi.
Not to mention whenever we were out in public and someone was singing the national anthem he would always have me stand up with my fist in the air while everyone else was covering up their hearts and holding their hats on their chests.
I knew I was in over my head.
There were forces at work here that went way beyond me.
Something was going on with this dude. This would take further evaluation.
Part Four Coming Soon