Friday, August 20, 2010
"What Makes You Think You Can Be a Black Hero?"
Those who like the movie I’m Gonna Get You Sucka may have recognized the quote above. It’s a great satire filled with many memorable quotes. The quote above came to mind when I was thinking about the following story about Father.
One summer afternoon on a visit back to NC in 1999, I was in the back by myself playing in the pool. My mom, Abby and Andy had all went to her bedroom to take a mid-afternoon nap which had become a ritual for my mom and the babies. Andy absolutely loved taking a nap and had come to expect it. If my mom was a little late in initiating the naptime routine, Andy would go into the hallway leading to the bedrooms and stare at my mom in a perplexed manner wondering why she hadn’t went to bed yet.
Father wasn’t an avid napper. Some days he would go but on others he wouldn’t. On this afternoon, he decided to stay outside and hang around with me. Father loved to play by the pool but not in the pool. He couldn’t swim worth a dam. The only times he did go in was when he was pushed into the water accidentally by the babies when they brushed past him on the pool ledge. Father swam with all of the grace and elegance that Frankenstein would have if he ever took a dip. It wasn’t a pretty site, but Father could make it to the steps or ladder, and I guess that is all that mattered.
Father loved to be splashed or squirted with water, and he also loved chasing toys around in the pool. On this day, I decided to tease Father, so I sunk to the bottom of the pool and laid there for a half a minute to a minute. For some reason, this drove Father nuts. He would start barking loudly in that high-pitched voice of his, and I could hear him when I was seven feet below the pool’s surface. When I resurfaced, Father was happy and let me pet and love him. On one dive, I stayed down as long as I could, possibly a minute and a half. Father barked the whole time on this dive. It was so loud and shrill that it woke my mom up, and she went into the backyard to see what all the commotion was. “What the hell is going on our here, goddamnit?” she asked. I told her that I was teasing Father and that we were playing a game.
She laughed and said that maybe Father was trying to save my life. This led me to think “Did Father try to save me?” Father was scared of going in the water and probably had an instinctual grasp that water could be hazardous, especially going underwater. Was Father barking to get someone’s attention so that they could help me in what Father perceived to be a dangerous situation?
Then I thought that Father was simply scared. He may have thought I was in trouble and was panicking since he was worried about my safety.
I can’t pinpoint what Father was barking at me for. Other than when Father first came to our house at a time he feared and hated me, Father never barked at me. I’d like to believe that Father was trying to save me by calling for help. I realize this is an anthropomorphic and sentimental viewpoint, but it’s a nice thought to have if it was really true. Even if he was panicking and scared, it is sweet to think that Father cared about me enough to be worried about my safety.