HIGH SCHOOL NORMALITY contains strong language and some themes not suitable for audiences under 17. Viewer discretion is advised.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Father of Mine

"David, you were in a very serious car accident. Your injuries are minor, but if I'm not mistaken, the emotional trauma will be very serious, especially in the next month or so. My advice is to take the rest of the semester off and focus on getting better."

"My doctor said that I should take the rest of the semester off."
"There's only a few more weeks left of school. What about finals?"

"David, your dad may have made a mistake--"
"Or two, or three, or five hundred."
"But he's still your dad, and you have to forgive him."
"I have to go back to school."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. If I don't go back, all I'll be thinking about is the accident."

"Hi, I was called here about a minute ago."
"Hello, David."
"How are you?"

Could that really have been all he could say?
"I--uh--heard about the accident. How are you feeling?"

What else could I say?

"Look, I--"
"What do you want, Cal?"
"Since when do you call me by my first name?"
"Since you decided that you didn't deserve to be called anything but."

Well, that was a little harsh, but he deserved it after he left us, caused my mom to be arrested and therefore contributed to perhaps the most catastrophic moment of my life.

"David, I just want to talk."
"About what? About why you left? About Lucy Greer? WHAT do you want to talk about?"


I had never been so grateful for the bell to ring.

"I have to get to class. Do me a favor and leave me alone."

And so I made my way to the exit, but before I reached the door--

"We have to talk, David. Whether you want to or not, we have to talk about this."

With one final glare toward my father, I left the office and headed to history.

My name is David, and I'm a normal high school student.
But unfortunately, my relationship with my father was anything but normal.

I can't really remember a time where my father and I were on great terms. Until a couple months ago I really wasn't on great terms with anyone in my family, but I started spending more time with them and when my dad left, we all sort of banded together. I used to resent them, but now I just resent him.

At lunch, I caught up with my three amigos, Michael Florence, Mark Adams, and Aaron Stanwick, and told them all about the ordeal.

"He just showed up?"
"Out of nowhere?"
"At school?"
"Yeah. One minute I was walking back to English, and the next minute I was called to the office. Oh, how was the AP English test?"
"Awesome, I killed it, but why would he just appear out of nowhere?"
"He said he wanted to talk."
"To which you said what?"
"That I have nothing to say to him."
"Except that you have a lot to say to him."
"That doesn't mean that I want to actually say it to him. That would require me talking to him."
"David, he's your dad."
"For lack of a better word."
"You know, I really never had much luck with dads. I've had like three of them."
"Well, at least we now know where Mark gets his slut gene from."
"My mother is not a slut. She just--doesn't want to die alone."
"Hello, boys."

Michael's girlfriend, Leslie Lawrence, arrived with a slice of pizza and some tater tots in tow.

"Hello, beautiful."
"I missed you, baby."
"Trust me, I missed you more."
"How can you be sure?"
"Because I love you too much to not miss you more."
"But I love you too much to not miss you more."
"OKAY, you guys MISSED each other! We all get it!"

Everyone took a moment to stare at me awkwardly.

"David's dad paid him a surprise visit during 2nd hour."
"I see. Why would he just drop in?"
"Allegedly to talk."
"Sex, drugs, life, politics, I don't know WHAT he wanted to talk about! All I know is that Calvin Adler will NOT have the satisfaction of my presence so easily."
"Look, David, I know that a lot has happened in the past couple weeks, but maybe it would be a good idea to just talk to him. If nothing else, it will give you a little bit of closure on this."
"Babe, you are so smart."
"Well, I know how much you love psychology, so I picked up a book at Barnes & Noble."
"You are the perfect woman. I don't know why we ever broke up all those times."
"I do--but lets make out instead of bringing it up."

While Joanie and Chachi stuck each other's tongues down each other's throats, I thought about the idea of talking to my dad. How much would he have to say? Would he let me voice my concerns? Would he have the balls to face Lucy Greer in court? Now that my mom had been arrested for it on his account, there would definitely be another court summons. But then I thought about the whole ordeal about mom getting arrested. She wouldn't have spent the night in jail over simply owing two thousand dollars. Would he tell me the rest of the story?

We were in final preparation for the Showcase Concert in choir. I settled it with Miss Connolly, our 25 year-old choir teacher, that I would sing off-stage and help with tech crew in any way I could. She was very understanding and told me to do whatever I could. After choir, Michael and I walked to Chemistry.

"So what are you going to do about your dad?"
"I don't know. I'm not sure what I can do. I mean, for better or worse, he's my father. But I don't want to face him."
"Look, Dave, sometimes in life, even when it's inconvenient, you have to deal with people and things that you don't want to deal with. For example, you didn't want to have to deal with Jamie, but you did because you had to for Joy, just like Aaron never wants to deal with Mark's escapades because he's Mormon, but he loves Mark just like we do, so deals with the dirty stories."

Michael was right. Sooner or later, I was going to have to talk to Cal, and sooner or later I was going to have to deal with it all. I had done enough shoving things under the rug. It was time to let the dust settle.

"And that's why I'm calling you. You're right. We do have a lot to talk about."
"When do you want to talk?"
"Well, I have after-school rehearsal for my choir concert tomorrow night. You could pick me up and we could go to dinner or something."
"I would like that."
"Okay. Rehearsal ends and 6."
"I'll see you then."
It was the hardest phone call I ever had to make, but it was necessary.
When I got home, I could not be any more relieved. I was so glad that I would only be taking the bus for another two weeks.

My 30 year-old sister Libby was already home from work.

"You're home early."
"Yeah, I decided to take the afternoon off."
"How are you feeling?"
"Could be better. I'm about to go take a painkiller. I'm telling you, car accidents and backpacks to not mix."

I grabbed two pills out of the bottle and returned to the living room to sit for a little bit.

"Aren't you supposed to be weaning yourself off of those?"
"Well, I'm only taking them once a day now, where as I was taking them three or four times a day last week."
"I guess, but make sure you keep weaing yourself because those kinds of pills are highly addictive."
"I'm not gonna be in pain forever. Until the breaking point comes, though, I should be taking them at least once a day."
"Okay then."

There was a moment of silence before I spoke again.

"So I'm having dinner with Cal tomorrow night."
"Really? Why?"
"He wants to 'talk about some things', whatever that means."
"What is there to talk about?"
"I don't really know, but I figured I might as well let him say whatever the hell it is that he has to say."
"I just wonder what that is."

The following evening after choir rehearsal, my dad pulled up in his blue Prius, and we headed for 3.14, a popular pizza place that was nearby.

"So, where have you been staying?"
"Rabbi Lewitt from the Chabbad is letting me stay with him. He's got a really great house."
"And how long are you planning on staying there?"
"Just until I have enough money to get my own place. I'm looking at getting a job teaching at a Hebrew Day School."
"With no degree?"
"Well, that's part of the news I have to tell you. I've decided to get my Smicha."
"Your what?"
"My smicha. It's a kind of rabbinical certification."

Well this was unexpected.

"You? A rabbi?"
"Yeah, why not?"
"I don't know, Cal. Maybe because of all of the wrong you've done, all of the money you owe certain people, all the hatred you feel toward the world?"
"David, please do not start."
"Why? You wanted to talk, so we're talking. Tell me, Cal, are you planning on dealing with Lucy Greer before or after you become a man of G-d?"
"And will you be making enough money to pay for child support for me and Jake?"
"And how may I ask are you paying to get this degree?"
"Why are you doing this to me?"
"I don't know, why did you do everything YOU did to ME?"
"You know, I thought that we could have a mature conversation, but obviously we can't."
"Then I guess you'd better take me home."

The car ride was silent. It reminded me of my first date with Joy, when I overreacted to her asking me about my family. We arrived at my house and I opened the door of the car, but before I got out, he spoke.

"David, I'm sorry about the way that I left, but at the time I thought it was best."
"So that Mom would get arrested instead of you?"

There was no response.

"Goodnight, Cal."

I entered the house and before any words were exchanged, my 14 year-old brother Jake stormed out of the house and sprinted toward my dad's prius. While Jake began shouting profanities toward the car, I chased after him.


I caught ahold of Jake and he burst into tears.

"I hate him so much!"
"No you don't. Trust me. No matter what, he's our father, and we can't hate him."

Jake and I walked back home and went to our rooms. I wasn't sure when I would see Cal again, but I had a feeling it wouldn't be long.

All of a sudden, I felt a shooting pain in the middle of my spine. Maybe it was from running for the first time since the accident, or maybe it was because it was the latest I had stayed up since. Whatver the reason, I felt that it constituted taking a pill.

David Adler
Normal High School Student

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