My dad. My dear, sweet dad. I have to tell another story about you, Dad. It is not your fault—you’re a great person. Simultaneously, these stories are hilarious and your embarrassment is less important than the purity of bringing comedy into the world. Consider this as an act of social justice.
My dad. Hmmmmm: how to paint the most accurate picture? One word that comes to mind is neurotic, but in a sweet way. My dad has a sensitive nature and easily picks up on people’s energy. He’s very considerate and cares deeply about the feelings of others. But being aware of other people’s emotions can make my Dad anxious at times. He’s easily agitated by both his projections and the judgments of the outside world. Yeah so I can say it right? My dad can be a little uptight.
When my brother was first born, my parents lived in academic housing at Princeton where no children were allowed. They planned on moving, but figured they would leave soon after the baby was born.
The day my brother came home from the hospital, my mother, her mother, my father, and their newborn baby Laszlo all got on the elevator. As the doors started to close, a fellow resident of the “childless” building rushed to the elevator and pushed his way in.
As my parents and grandmother rode in the elevator holding tiny Laszlo, all my dad could think about was how the man was surely condemning them for having a baby in this “baby-free” post-grad student housing. He didn’t imagine this stranger might feel joy gazing at the sweet soul of a freshly birthed child. No. My dad was certain this man was silently denouncing them for their flagrant neglect of the rules.
As his inner turmoil grew with each floor the elevator passed, my brother made a noise. Not a cry, mind you. Nothing loud or even particularly piercing –more of an innocent “meh” sound. This barely perceptible audible assault pushed my dad over the edge and he plummeted deep into the abyss of his angst.
My Dad: Shut up you little asshole!
Why my dad said this no one understood. My mom, her mother, and the man all looked at my father with shocked eyes and confused faces. But hey… at least he took the attention off my brother!