It’s Embarrassing Stories Monday, where I share YOUR embarrassing stories.
Today’s embarrassing story is by Jessica. Jessica blogs at Welcome to the Bundle. She has an MFA in Creative Writing and writes about parenting, momming and family life. You can follow Jessica at her blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.
1984 was a tough year. I had a bowl haircut, I read dictionaries for fun, and I lost my mom to cancer. I wanted so badly to feel normal. After school let out for the day, I’d hang back from the mass of kids swarming the parking lot of St. Dominic’s Catholic school. I studied the crowd like I studied the dictionary, eager to learn something new, something that might make me just a little bit cool. And, to me, the 8th graders were a bottomless font of cool. I let my socks slouch like they did. I doused myself in Love’s Baby Soft cologne like they did. I tried to talk like they did, even though most of what they said was a complete mystery: Why were they always discussing the time of the month? And what made a kiss French, as opposed to American or, say, Mexican?
But if 1984 was a tough year for me, it had to be downright unbearable for my dad. He was suddenly the single father of three little girls, ages eight, six, and two. But even through the grief and the fear and the exhaustion, my dad made time to play — to toss a softball in the backyard, to hold impromptu Michael Jackson dance parties in our living room, to go to the park. Our favorite destination was Baltimore’s Burdick Park, just a block from my grandparent’s row home. There was a much beloved twisty sliding board, rows of swings, and enough 80s-era metal playground equipment to simultaneously break the bones of a hundred different kids. Pure paradise.
So on a sun-drenched Saturday afternoon, my dad packed us into the Chevy Chevette and headed to Burdick. There was a line to get on the twisty sliding board and the swings were occupied, but we were unfazed. My dad challenged us to a game of tag. While my youngest sister casually ate mulch, my middle sister and I rose to the tag challenge.
We rocketed around the see-saw and toward the small park maintenance building.
“I’m gonna get you guys!” my dad shouted, sprinting after us.
“No way!” my sister Kim shouted back as she shot between a group of kids and toward a stand of trees.
Left out in the open and with my dad gaining on me, I finally reached the corner of the maintenance building. As he neared, I turned toward him and called to mind a term I’d heard the eighth-grade girls casually lob at the boys from time to time.
“Get away from me, you pervert!” I yelled. Then I sprinted around the side of the building.
I remember a mom with a stroller stopping dead in her tracks to stare at me.
“Haha! You’ll never catch me, you pervert!” I screamed as I rounded the back of the building.
“Pervert, pervert, pervert!” I chanted as I took off toward the merry-go-round, drunk on speed and my own coolness.
A group of kids near the monkey bars had gone strangely quiet.
My dad finally caught up with me as I reached the merry-go-round. His face was red. His mouth looked stiff. “Geez, he’s taking this game pretty seriously,” I thought, just as he grabbed me by the arm.
“Let go of me, you pervert,” I laughed.
With his eyes wide, he leaned down and hissed, “For the love of God, Jessie, just shut up!”
Suffice it to say that our day at the park ended then and there. On the ride home, my dad wanted to know where exactly I’d picked up my fun new word, but I guess he was just too tapped out to explain what the word actually meant. I had to sleuth out the definition on my own during recess later that week. It was a gut-churning revelation.
Thirty years later, I still remember how my dad hustled us out of the park that day, his hand held gently at my back, urging me to walk a bit more quickly. I remember hearing him sigh and thinking to myself, “Boy, I really wore Dad out!” I remember feeling briefly and cluelessly cool.
To read more by Jessica, visit her site at Welcome to the Bundle.
Has anything like this ever happened to you? I want to hear about it.
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