Tomorrow is my dad’s birthday, and I’ll tell you the truth: sometimes, it really pisses me off that I’m the kind of person who can’t refrain from remembering shit like that. Not that I hate the man, because really, I don’t. There’s just sort of a void in the place where he should be. Like…you know how people are always talking about the father-daughter bond? Well, if it weren’t for my husband’s relationship with his daughter, I would have no freakin’ idea what that looked like. I don’t even know enough about it to miss it.
But here we are again on August 10th, and I’m a birthday-remembering person, and I never know quite what to do with myself. It’s in my nature to be all “well, no matter what he’s done, at the end of the day, he’s still my dad. I should call.” And then I slap myself like I’m possessed by Satan, because COME ON. I’m 43 years old, and I don’t even remember a time in my life when my dad deemed it important to see, call, or in any way indicate he was thinking about me on my birthday. And seriously, I’m not looking for sympathy here, because I’m pretty sure I haven’t missed a damn thing.
He wasn’t an awful father, he was just an absent and entirely non-contributing father. Mom and I have made it through most of the past 25 years without ever using his name or any other term that might indicate either of us ever having any sort of attachment to the man. We say “the sperm donor,” and we do it in a deadpan and entirely unemotional way that makes it clear that the donation must certainly have been a totally sterile process for which he bore only the barest of responsibility. In fact, we find it helpful to continuously erase responsibilities from his column even so long after the fact; that way, we don’t accidentally forget and expect something.
Maybe you don’t really get it, but it’s true: that “expectation” shit can sneak up on you, particularly when you start getting older and the person’s been gone a while. Before you know what’s going on, you can talk yourself into thinking you miss them or that everybody deserves to have someone call on their birthday and then you’ve got the phone in your hand.
It’s in moments like these that you can be truly grateful that the individual who was nice enough to donate genetic material toward your conception is such a piece of shit that HE NEVER GAVE YOU HIS PHONE NUMBER.
I mean, I guess if it was really important for me to believe he cared for me, I could do a few mental acrobatics (like all those Trump supporters) and get the job done. For example: he loved me so much that he knew it was in my best interest to never see or talk to him again.
Wow. That was way too easy. I hope there aren’t any brainwashers lurking about with nefarious intentions. I’m looking like a ridiculously easy target right about now.