"Let’s go out somewhere." he’d say sometimes, usually on Sundays.
"Where?" I’d say back, too concerned with missing an episode of All That to care that my father wanted to take me somewhere.
"Let’s go." he’d keep saying in a question-like tone but I always knew I had no choice.
I’d take a few angry, deep breaths. Roll my eyes so hard that they’d hurt for the next hour. “WHYYYYYYYY MUST THIS MAN TORTURE ME!!!?” I’d think inside my head as I got dressed looking forward to another boring night. Why couldn’t my brother go instead? Or at least join us so I could have someone to talk to?
"Where are we goooooing?" I’d ask, desperately, even though I always sort of knew.
"Out" is all he’d say and it drove me mad.
My poor father. Worked every day and almost every hour to give us an okay life. Worked until he had no hair and eventually no body fat. My poor father had to beg me to spend time with him, sometimes. I was an awful, angry teenage human.
My poor father didn’t know where to take me, I’m guessing, because we’d always end up at a casino or we’d take walks along the beach. The thing about these outings was that I always dreaded them but when I was actually in the moment I didn’t mind one bit. The nights usually ended with the both of us feeling rather happy and fulfilled. I knew my dad cherished those moments more than I could understand at the time and with time I realized how important it was for me to be easier on him.
Now I sit and think of those times when I’d be dragged to the casino, the same one I sat at alone tonight because I had a good feeling. And the good feeling won me $25 bucks and so I thought of my father. I thought of his big smile and the way he says “Alriiiight!” when cheering someone on.
I remember impatiently waiting for him to finish gambling because I hated it. I was so jealous of how easy it was for him to give away his money once in a while and that it was so hard for me to get any out of him ever.
And all I can think of right now is how much I wish I could get him on a plane, fly him to me and spend the day with him doing all of the things I used to hate.