By Charing Ball
Dad had a girlfriend.
Actually, what he told me was that he has a “friend.” But I wasn’t stupid.
Dad and Mom were never officially a couple. He was from upstate Pennsylvania. Harrisburg, to be more exact. She was born and raised in Philly. They met in college in the seventies and one year later, they had me.
Mom was no stranger to dating. And before she got married, she had introduced me to plenty of her boyfriends. Some of them even lived with us.
Therefore I had no hangups about him having a girlfriend. I actually welcomed the company.
And she seemed nice enough. She was light brown skinned with a short haircut and a pleasant smile. Her style of dress was pristine. And her mannerisms indicated an air of sophistication not native to Harrisburg, or even Philadelphia. Yet she looked and acted like every single “friend” Dad had introduced me to over the years.
Dad steered the car while I sat in the backseat.
“So Charing how is your summer vacation going? It must be great spending time with dear ol’ dad, huh,” she asked gleefully from the front seat. She made my summer sound more exciting than it actually had been.
Dad and I hadn’t talk to each other much during our summers together – or not to each other, at least. I spent most of my time in Harrisburg at my grandma and grandpa’s house. I talked a bunch over there: to my cousins, to my aunts and to my uncles too. We talked, we cussed, we bickered, we argued and laughed too. But that was at grandma and grandpa’s house.
At his house, things were pretty quiet. Most times, Dad was either locked away in his computer lab or watching the basketball game. In either case, he did not like to be bothered by me. Most times I felt like an unwanted guest. A burden, even.
I didn’t want to answer her; I didn’t know how to answer her without telling the truth. But I could see Dad’s eyes accusing me in the rear view mirror. I could tell that he wanted me to be on my best behavior. To help him make a good impression.
I obliged- sorta.
I didn’t want to be rude so I started rambling on about everything except my summer vacation. I told her about my brother, my cat and my dog. I told her about my neighborhood and my favorite rap album. I even told her about what I had for breakfast.
I could tell by how Dad grimace in the rear view mirror that I was talking too much. But his girlfriend seemed receptive to it all. She smiled and nodded at all of the right parts. And she even encourage my chatter more by asking questions.
Regardless of what Dad choose to label her, I really liked his new girlfriend.