Many of my friends and I have dead dads. There were so many of us back in Chicago that, as a joke, we started The Dead Dads Club. We’d even sing ala Fred Schnieder from the B52’s, “Everybody will join…The Dead Dads Club!”
On Father’s Day, we made it a tradition to go out and get shit faced. It wasn’t a somber event. It was just a dumb reason for all of us to go out and get loaded.
One Father’s Day my friend Kevin and I were the last two standing. The bar was closing, and we stepped outside and started saying our goodbyes. Before we parted ways, we threw a few dead dad jokes at one another.
“Be safe on your way home, Kevin.”
“Too bad your Dad wasn’t safe with that gun, Dwyer. Maybe he’d still be with us.”
“Hey, Kevin I can always punch you in the face to remind you what it’s like to have your dad around.”
We laughed and then stumbled our separate ways towards home.
At the time I lived in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. It isn't the nice white boy neighborhood it is now. Back then it was filled with corner drug dealers, junkies, and bloated, unattractive, drugged-up sex workers and I loved it.
I cut down a side street towards my apartment and out of a very dark doorway stumbled a streetwalker. She’s whacked out on smack and, in a weak Billie Holiday heroin voice, she said, “Happy Father’s Day.”
I stopped and blurted out, “I don’t have a dad. He’s dead.” To which she responded, “So is mine. Want a blow job?”
A silence fell between us. Within a second I had a thousand thoughts of how everything in our lives has led us this moment. How if our fathers were alive maybe neither of us would be in this moment. We could have totally different lives. Then my drunken mind thought perhaps I should get this blow job. We are two careening souls wandering the dark side streets of Chicago looking for our fathers. We should bond over the death of our fathers.
Reality tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me, “Um, does AIDS ring a bell? Herpes or various other STDs?
I weave back and forth and say, “Maybe next time," and continued on my way.
Oddly I think of her now and again. I wonder if she ever got off the streets or if she is still out there giving fellatio to strange men. I also wonder what if that line was just a marketing plea and she totally had a father. Maybe she has a pat line for every holiday. “Happy Fourth of July.” “I don’t celebrate the Fourth. I’m Canadian.” “Me too. Wanna…”
I guess it doesn’t matter. The strange thing is every Father’s Day I remember her before I remember my dad.