This past Sunday was Father’s Day. My parents live a few hours away, and I unfortunately did not get to see my dad. I could have drove down for the day, but my ex-husband had our son with him so they could celebrate Father’s Day together. Once you have a kid, your parents never want to just see you. Your presence is only welcome when accompanied by your child. They’d actually be fine with just seeing the kid, but they realize that the kid needs a chauffeur to get to them, so you might as well visit too.
My parents’ response to that would likely be:
Vocally: “That is not true! You’re our daughter! We’d love to see even just you! Visit anytime!”
Mentally: “Yeah, pretty much.”
Even people who don’t know much about me know how much I love my dad, it becomes clear fast. I have shared many stories with friends that demonstrate his awesomeness, from times I was little right up until now. But the first time I was truly awestruck by my dad is a story that I’ve mainly kept to myself.
I was probably about four years old, which means my sister Julie was around seven years old. We were playing beauty shop, which mainly involved fixing each other’s hair. We both had really long and thick hair, as you can see:
Julie was using our mom’s comb that was made out of thick plastic and had the assurance of being “Unbreakable” on its handle, a promise I found impressive. I’m not sure what my her endgame was with this styling technique, but she chose to start winding the bottom of my hair around the comb until it was up to above my shoulders. After doing that, the comb was horribly tangled in my hair.
Julie: “I can’t get the comb out.”
Julie: “It’s stuck!”
Me: “Get it out!!!”
Julie: “We need to cut your hair!”
Our parents found us in the living room and assessed the situation, which at that point was me hysterically crying with a comb stuck in my hair and Julie being annoyed and telling me to stop crying. That is basically part of every childhood story I have involving my sister (see also: Later, Freighter).
Dad examined the comb and determined that there was no way it was getting untangled from my hair. I thought for sure this meant that a pair of scissors was coming, but instead Dad did something incredible: he grabbed the comb with both hands and snapped it in half.
MY DAD BROKE AN UNBREAKABLE COMB.
I was in complete and utter shock. No way this just happened. HOW??????
With the comb in two pieces (sorry, Mom), Dad was able to untangle both of the pieces from my hair. Crisis averted, we just carried on with our day. But I was still floored by the fact that my dad broke an unbreakable comb. I was feeling proud of how strong and cool my dad was, but I was also kind of terrified of the fact that my dad was able to break the unbreakable. I remembered this moment any time that I got in trouble with my dad. My parents never physically harmed us or gave me reason to believe they would. But I now knew what my dad was capable of, and I knew that this is a man you do not want to anger.
I also realized I could use it to my advantage.
One day when I was in preschool, my dad had baked some of his famous (really, ask any member of my family) cookies for me to share with my class. My classmates were thrilled, except for one boy. He walked up to me after we had finished our snack and said, “Those cookies weren’t very good.”
I looked him in the eye with confidence I’d never felt before. “Oh yeah? Well, my dad made those cookies, AND HE WILL BEAT YOU UP.”
Threatening to have my dad beat people up was my new defense. In my mind, I was like, don’t mess with me, you should see what this guy did to a comb! Not just any comb, an UNBREAKABLE comb!
I love you, Dad. Thanks for showing me that the seemingly impossible is often very possible.