“Good morning, honey.”
I glance up from my journal and exchange a greeting with my dad. He silently settles into the wicker chair to my left as we listen to the salty waves tumble over the sand. At nine o’clock in the morning Costa Rica already cultivates heavy morning air, which clings and sticks and drowns the pores. Despite the heat, my father and I routinely enjoy our morning cups of coffee. I sip my third cup when a strange sight catches my vision.
“What’s wrong with your cream? Is it spoiled?”
Hearing the confusion in my voice, my dad smirks and dunks a spoon in his glass mug, whirling the mixture around and around. The chunky cream remains distilled.
“Oh, it’s not cream. It’s yogurt.”
“You put yogurt in your coffee?”
“Mhm,” he says with a light in his eyes, and slurps the concoction. “It’s milk-based, so it’s basically the same thing as cream.”
Now you’ve met my father. His name is Jim.
I was thirteen when my dad was in a life-altering car accident, which resulted in a traumatic brain injury. I have few fragments of memories before the accident in 2003 which include him singing me to sleep or frequently holding a litter of puppies in his arms (he’s a Veterinarian). Oh, and one other memory.
A few months ago I blogged about what it was like to grow up with four brothers. In short, I chronically strove to be part of the group and begged to be invited to anything and everything that the boys were doing. Once, my brother Steve and our neighbor Garrett were playing a game that consisted of swinging punches to injure each other’s groins. They were laughing hysterically so (naturally) I asked to join.
“You can’t play! You’re a girl.”
“That’s not fair!” I screamed (not) dramatically, as I stormed away in a cloud of malice and frustration.
Hours later, my dad came home from work, walked through the door and shouted, “I’m home!” as I simultaneously jumped out from behind the wall and punched him right between the legs. HA. See, guys! I can too play!
My six-year-old victory was short-lived as my father bent in half in a pleading grimace. I didn’t understand why he wasn’t laughing; I just knew something was wrong—so I bolted.
An hour later he coaxed me out from behind the sofa. I could tell from his tone that he had already forgiven me. Still, he took the opportunity to educate me on the anatomical differences between boys and girls, and since then I haven’t attempted to play this particular game a second time.
Besides these few memories I don’t actually remember much about my father before the car accident, but I do know that he lost a little bit of discernment. Lack of discretion produced an attitude in him that wasn’t concerned with how others viewed him along with a whole new level of weird.
The great thing about Jim is that he has no qualms about discussing topics that aren’t typically acceptable in society. For example, he’ll initiate a conversation with a new acquaintance about lactose’s effects on one’s intestines, or warn my friends about hot-tubbing during menstruation (as if he knows anything about menstruation. ALL WE WANT IS A HOTTUB, DAD. AND WINE).
Whether my dad is spaying a cat for a science class, asking my friends for their urine for his garden, or mixing us gin & tonics, he’s consistently sporting a smile and a twinkle in his eye. I appreciate his willingness to be laughed at, his eagerness to be weird, and his desire to attempt new endeavors.
It’s important to add that people unanimously agree I inherited my weirdness from my dad. And I don’t have a brain injury—so what exactly does that say about me?