Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I have a crazy father.

I'm not writing this because the said crazy father has done anything in particular, but mainly because I've written about the crazy grandfather and, heck, I really need to write more.
And by 'more', I mean anything that doesn't involve QUT-Harvard style references. 
Anyway, I will alternate between calling him Dad and Papi, but they are one and the same person so no confusion.

My Papi's childhood was in Chile. He had large glasses, because that's all he could get to deal with his blindness, and he had a dog named Minnie.
I don't really know much about the time in Chile. I know about it from my uncle's perspective, and from my grandmother's, even bits from my grandfather's. Dad, however, doesn't sit down and talk about it. He doesn't speak Spanish unless it's necessary. During my HSC, I asked him to speak Spanish with me.
"I don't want to."
"Dad, I really need to practise."
"Practise at your nana's."
"Papito! Please."
He sighed, I took it as my cue.
"Hola, me llamo Natasha. Como te llamas?"
"Don't be silly, Natasha, you know my name."

 I have gleaned bits of his childhood from passing comments he makes. "You still have to make your bed. Why? Because even though we had a maid in Chile, I still had to make my bed."
Yeah, my dad had a maid in Chile. We asked why we didn't get a maid here. "You don't need one." Well, he didn't need one there. "Tell that to your grandmother. She insisted."
He spouts off things like that to encourage us, I think, or perhaps make us feel dread. "School? You think school's hard? I had to go to school on Saturdays. We all did."

When he was 18, he came over to Australia with his family. 
We hear more stories about that time than we do of anything prior. "I'd learned a bit of English at school, but of course it wasn't anything you need when you come to another country." My uncle had apparently learned nothing, so Papi used to force him to talk to people at the train station and the like to get him to speak more. "You say it like Bondee Jooncshun," he told Uncle in one story. "'Can I plizz have a tickeh to Bondee Jooncshun'."
He started working somewhere, with my mother. Apparently it was something to do with computers. My mother was his boss. To everyone who knows my mother, this is hilarious. She only recently learned how to operate a computer ("Tashi! Tashi! The computer's not turning on!" "Press the power button, Mum, not the CD button"). My uncle worked in the same place, and he says that upon seeing my mother, my father decided he was going to marry her.
Which pleased my Nana no end. (My mother was also a bit concerned by this story, saying she was glad she'd not heard this earlier as she possibly would have ran.)
However, the man did not know much English, so any attempts at wooing would be fruitless. He decided to stay mute until he knew more English and thus could seduce my mother appropriately. My mother didn't quite like that, and apparently used to pick on my father and constantly ask questions to make him talk more. (We seem oddly similar in that sense, my mother and I.) Somewhere in this story, my parents started dating, my mother quit her job, and moved on to possibly go on the trawlers or something. They're a bit vague on the timeline here. Meanwhile, my father lived at home, receiving boxes of Balmain bugs from Mum, and being followed around by his little brother. 

Continuing on the vague timeline, my mother returned at some point and it became the 90s. My brother was born when my dad was the ripe old age of 23; I was born when he was nearly 25. We've got videos of that time, and for a guy who had come out to Australia less than 10 years earlier, he speaks English perfectly and is able to scold people pretty darn well.
For example:
Chris is running around the backyard and notes that Dad and Tata are playing soccer.
He promptly steals the ball.
Dad: Christopher! Can I please have the ball?
Chris continues running around like a lunatic, clutching onto the ball.
Dad: Christopher! [more stern now] Please give me the ball.
Chris races around the front of the house with the ball.
Dad: [chasing him, lost all patience] CHRISTOPHER ENRIQUE YOU COME BACK HERE.
Apparently from an early age, Chris looked like my parents smooshed together, and I perfectly resembled my father. He still gets offended if anyone says I look like my mother. Apparently one of my old teachers saw me at work once, and told Papi, fondly, that "Tash looks so much like Merrilyn now." Dad still continues a vendetta against her.

He also refused to call Chris and I by anything other than our full first names. 
As a comparison:
Mum: Will call me Tash, Tashi, or Tasha Carolina. Will call me Natasha when I am in trouble. Will call Chris: Chris, Christopher, or Henry. He didn't get in trouble much with Mum.
Dad: Will call me Natasha. Will call me Natasha Carolina when I am in trouble. Will call Chris: Christopher or Christopher Enrique when he is in trouble.
I don't know why, but he does this with my cousins too.

When I was growing up and hit my teenage years, I did not get along with Dad. He and I have very similar personalities, and they were practically identical when I was 14 or so. Both of us had very quick fuses, set to explode whenever the two of us said anything to each other that could theoretically be taken the wrong way. (My mother used to roll her eyes at us, saying that she could tell us exactly what we'd been saying to each other and not take it the wrong way.) This continued throughout high school and until I left home, and God taught me to, for the most part, control my temper. I remember just after I left home and my reactions were still set to go off when Dad said something, he called and asked me who I was voting for. I said Labor. He went off at me, which turned into an all-out argument, and both of us hung up. I immediately called Mum, as was my custom. She was perplexed. "I don't understand you, honey."
"... yes, but he's also voting Labor. He lectured me last night about voting Liberal."

 Basically, the only thing that we bonded over was music. For as long as I can remember, my father has been attached to his guitar, and I can remember Silvio Rodriguez being coaxed from the strings and Dad singing in Spanish. Because of Dad, my first tape was Crowded House's Woodface; because of him, the first CD I bought was Ben Lee's Breathing Tornadoes. He take poems I'd written and put them to music, recording the attempts so he'd remember what chords he'd used. Last night I called him to tell him about awesome shenanigans, and told him Ben Folds Five is out in a few days.
"Oooh. Really?"
"Really really. It's already been leaked and it's amazing."
"Mumford and Sons is out too, probably on the same day."
"WEH. I'm going to be broke."
"You buy Ben Folds, I'll buy Mumford and Sons, and we'll do a swap."
Most of the CDs I buy, he ends up getting a hold of. Because I keep most of my music in digital form, I pass them onto him. The same with him - if he buys a CD, he gives it to me first so I can copy it for the two of us, and then it lives in his car forever.

It's weird now I've left home that he and I are quite close. If given the opportunity to tell someone about my news, I go straight to him. I never used to.
Mum called me on Monday to ask about a few things. I was evasive. I didn't feel like sharing with her.
Dad calls yesterday. He asks the same. He gets the full story. I don't know, there's just something different about sharing with Dad than there is with Mum. And he's become the same, where he just calls to tell me extremely random things (such as the other night he wrestled the phone off Mum mid-sentence to inform me that the bank had told him he was paying too many fees and he was convinced he'd stumbled on a conspiracy). I love it now, because he's an excellent man and so similar to me that we exist on the same wavelength. He usually reads all my stories first, because he's honest but also knows where I'm trying to head at - and can find faster ways to get to my point.

And just on a final note, my father is insane.
He enjoys making people bite. He especially enjoys making me bite, because Mum and Chris have learned to ignore him. We went out for dinner a few weeks ago and he spent the entire meal poking me, eating steak one-handed, just because I stupidly told him I bet he couldn't be annoying for an entire meal. He also hides and tries to scare people. I can't even count the number of times that Chris and I have been going up the hallway, seemingly with Dad in tow, and suddenly there's no Dad. We always flee back to Mum and scream and refuse to go down the hallway until Mum marches down there and pulls Dad out of his hiding place, sternly. (He really is like a child.) Once, Mum and Dad were looking after this awesome kid, Ollie, for a few months. Ollie was watching TV, and Dad decided to sneak outside and wait to scare Ollie.
I was walking through the living room and saw Dad outside the window.
Ollie said, "Hey. Where's your dad gone?"
Dad slashed his throat at me.
Feeling extremely bad, I lied. "Got no idea, sorry."
Ollie screaming and running up to my room to hide a few minutes later let us all know the prank was indeed a success.