June 15, 2008

my two fathers

Papi & Sam at happy hour


Here are my two fathers, enjoying a ritual happy hour together which entails sitting outside at dusk with a stiff drink in one hand and a Cuban cigar in the other and watching the world quiet down as the sun sinks below the horizon.

These two men have next to nothing in common, aside from my mother (the fiery Colombian woman who ensnared both their hearts for different reasons), their shared role of father to my sister and me, and their daily anticipation of happy hour.

My biological father is Paul, aka Papi or Pito. I inherited from him certain verbal mannerisms, a love of photography and the night sky, the way I walk, and an anxiety about money that tranlates into stinginess. As a child, I dreaded asking him questions because I would either get: A) a bewildering far-fetched answer that was made up on the spot or B) some long-winded explanation which included an unrelated history of something else and only confused me more. He is also something of a McGyver, always able to think of a solution outside the box. He carries with him at all times about a half a pound of keys and tools on his keychain. I think he took the Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared" to heart, because he's pretty much prepared for anything at all times. I remember him pulling a mini can opener out of his pocket once at a school event, when my teacher realized there was no way to open the cans of juice one of the parents had brought. I was proud then of my father's foresight.

My stepfather is Sam. I inherited from him a love of books and good food, my liberal politics, a passion for travel, and a lack of desire to work very hard which translates into an appreciation for loafing. We had many fierce arguments at the dinner table about world events and he frequently prodded me to learn more about the topic at hand before opening my mouth. He made a pittance working for the city government but he made sure that his family never felt the pinch. I marvel now that we went so many places and experienced so many things on his shoestring budget. He would never skimp on good food and one of the pleasures of my childhood was being treated to a fine meal at the restaurant of my choice, whether to celebrate my birthday or a good report card.

There is so much more I can say about these two men who shaped who I am by their example. I suppose the only thing more I can say today is this: Happy Father's Day, Papi and Sam. I love you both.


2 comments:

PiTo said...

Thank you the post... finally something from Monica. You don't have anywhere to subscribe to your blog so that I can get instant updates.
Correction: All cigars are NOT Cuban from Cuba. Those are ILLEGAL to punish Fidel. The ones we have for happy hour are Cuban seed, picked by Cuban exiles, rolled by Cuban cigar makers, and are NOT illegal.

Stranger: "Do you know what time it is?"
Pito: "Yes!" (then he goes into an explanation of how to build a clock, connect it to a computer, connected to the internet, using NTP (Network Time Protocol) to get and set the time from NIST (National Institute of Science and Technology) cesium oscillator....

Anonymous said...

IN COMPARISON TO THE DELIGHTFUL WORD WORDS YOU HAVE WRITTEN THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GOOD FATHER'S DAY CARD. THEY ARE ALL TRITE EXCUSES FOR THE MENTALLY CHALLENGED TO GET OUT OF EXPRESSING THEIR FEELINGS OR MASKING THEIR LACK THEREOF. YOUR FEW NUGGETS OF LOVE HAVE OUTSHONE THEM ALL, THANKS FOR THE BEST EXPRESSION EVER. YOU HAVE MORE THAN EARNED A GOOD BREAKFAST WITH MICHAEL!

LOVE, SAM.