~Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Confession

"Are you sure you want to tell your dad we're living together on Easter Sunday?" Scott chewed on the end of cigarette anxiously.

I changed lanes and drove away from the city. "Yes, he can't make a big scene in front of a large family gathering," I reassured him. Funny how he was gunning for me to tell my family all along, and when I finally decided to bite the bullet, he's wavering. Besides, I accidentally told my sister-in-law the previous day and I know my brother and her would sell me out to my father in a New York minute. It wasn't a choice anymore; it was a race to beat my brother to my father's house. I punched the gas from the outside lane.

***

I decided to test the waters with my step-mother first. Scott had just admitted to setting my vacuum cleaner on fire because he didn't know that with the Femme Fatale's Arctic fur, the bag needs to be emptied after each use. There's no way a guy would ever use a vacuum cleaner in an apartment that wasn't his, dog-hair problem or not. "Scott moved in last month," I spoke quietly.

My step-mother paused as if to add, Oh really? and then calmly and simply said, "I know."

Ahem.

"You were acting the same way your sister was acting when she did it."

"I told her that she shouldn't tell her dad today. It's a holiday," confessed Scott.

"No, today's the best day." My step-mother turned around and gestured to the twenty-odd family members huddled around the outdoor fireplace, "Too many people for him to get really angry."

As soon as I told my step-mother, it was official: everyone in my family knew about Scott and I living together with the exception of my father. I watched him cross the yard and refresh someone's drink. He grabbed a piece of ham off the platter and ate it. He had no idea and everyone else knew. I felt horrible for excluding him and he didn't deserve it; I'm not out to portray my father as the fool.

So when we were alone in the kitchen together a few minutes later, I opened my mouth.

"Scott moved in."

"Where?"

"To my apartment," I answered as flatly as he asked.

"Is his name on the lease?"

"Yes."

"I'm not happy about this. Not happy at all," he said, still unemotional.

"I know."

"I know this is what the young kids are doing these days, but I don't agree with it. I didn't agree with it when your sister did it."

"I remember."

"I'm a parent, it's my job to be judgmental."

"..."

"Why did he move in."

And this is where I should have gushed about how happy he makes me, and how we were together all the time, so much so that we really were wasting money on two rents. How serious our relationship is and that it hurts me when my father calls to talk about vacation plans and purposely excludes Scott from the conversation. But I was afraid because I angered my father, "To save money. The city is so expensive."

"Well if you wanted to save money, you should have gotten a female roommate."

I shrugged. After a couple of minutes of silence, I slid off the barstool and backed out of the kitchen. I backed out of the house.

"How did it go?" my step-sister asked.

"Not good. He's mad," I said quietly. Scott's eyebrows jumped to his hairline in both surprise and fear.

"Just give him time. He'll cool down," consoled my step-mother.

It took him a year and a wedding for him to calm down over my step-sister's live-in boyfriend. We left shortly thereafter, and to be honest, I'm still a little afraid of what may happen.

***

What I don't understand is that my mother—who thinks that appearances are everything: do everything perfectly, or else what would the neighbors think—is okay with Scott living with me more than my absentee, laid-back, beer-drinking father. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't my mother scream and cry that her friend, my elementary school principal, could find out that I'm living in sin? Shouldn't my father go with the flow?

Scott and my mother think that he's being protective of his daughter, that he doesn't want to see me taken advantage of and hurt. But my father has never shown the slightest interest one way or another towards someone I've brought home. He just didn't care. And when I did show up broken hearted, he'd leave my step-mother to it and never ask. So why does he all of a sudden care? We've become closer in the past few years, but still this is a surprise for me. Why, at the approach of my 27th birthday, does he all of a sudden have an opinion on how to live my life?

13 comments:

Single Girl said...

Just give him time. Maybe since it's his second time going through this, he'll get over it a bit quicker. He'll realize he doesn't want to lose out on being close to his daughter, you know?

Emma said...

Good luck Sarah, he will come round and you need Scott more than ever now, glad he makes you happy thats' all that matters really..xx

Chickpea said...

When I broke it to my parents that I (raised muslim, now agnostic) was dating my Russian Atheist Jew boyfriend, I knew my parents would flip and possibly disown me, but I figured my mom would be the rational one. While they both flipped out and voiced empty threats, my dad was a bit easier to deal with.

When I told them that I would be living with him after I graduated college, my mom tried to convince me that we should just get married to "make things easier."

When my bf and I moved a few months later into a bigger apartment, my dad helped me move some of our smaller belongings while my car was in the shop and my bf was called in for overtime. He voiced his concerns about my "living in sin," but also acknowledged that I was an adult, on my way to law school, and therefore could make my own decisions. It took my mother a full three months to come and see my apartment.

Give your father time, but stand your ground if need be. At the end of the day, your happiness and safety should be what really matters to him; not society or what people with think. Good luck, I'm rooting for you!

Cara said...

I agree with Chickpea's last paragraph.

M said...

oh, he'll come around and much sooner than he did with your sister. She's paved the way. It's just how it works in families (the older ones pave the way for the younger siblings) - just wait it out but don't back down.

Why is he taking such an interest now? Well, I'd say it'd be about control. The farthest a daughter can move away from her father is to let another man *seriously* in to her life. And you've just admitted that you've done that (sons go through the same thing maybe more so with mums). Not all fathers are like this (or mothers) but it sounds like he has pretty set views on how things should be (the gospel according to him) and now he doesn't like that being ignored. It's out of his hands now and he knows it and that is probably upsetting his sense of 'this is how my world works'. He'll come to terms with it though. He's just got to.

KennethSF said...

From what I've read, it seems his objection is based on nothing other than a set of values he holds dear. In the end, it's your life. If your dad isn't happy with it, he'll have to deal with it.

Peach said...

Dunno. Think the answer's in your label- he's crazy? My Mum hates me hiring cars or cooking or travelling or anything vaguely adult but wants me to have children and get married - I don't understand either...

Lpeg said...

I don't know why they're like that. Mine are holding on to values, and I would be terrified if I was at the same state you are - I wouldn't be able to tell them.

How are you and Scott? We haven't heard too, too much about him lately in regards to how you two are doing!

SuvvyGirl said...

Sometimes I think Dad's are the mystery of the universe. I think with a lot of them they care more than they like to admit and they're not sure how to show it and still be manly etc. Stereotypical stuff I know, but it usually fits my dad to a t. He'll come around. He'll either get over it or just be mad for a really long time. And if he chooses the later that's okay too. It's your life and your decision not his.

Diane Mandy said...

I ma proud of you for coming forward!

>*;* said...

Well at least you finally got that out of the way!

He'll come around.. father's are crazy.. I think sometimes they don't get involved because girls scare them, they don't know how to deal with us unless they are voicing "their opinion of reason."

I'm glad you finally told everyone!

Ariel said...

This is so odd to read, perhaps because my own father is the ultra liberal, couldn't care less kind which frankly is just as cumbersome as yours. You don't need anyone's blessing to be happy but admittedly it helps. Upon hearing of the demise of my, erm, relationship of sorts, Mother said: "Oh, I'm glad, what the hell were you going to go and do on this island exactly?". Parents, pfff.

AmyD said...

Hmmm...I don't think he has an opinion that so far off the mark from any other fathers opinion, and in some ways, it sounds like he's just saying what he's saying because he thinks he's SUPPOSED to say it! You're his baby daughter; of course he's going to be protective. And had you mentioned all the other parts of why you moved in with Scott (provided they are true), he might have been forced to support it. Maybe next time you talk to him, you could reword your reasons for wanting to live with Scott. He might see a different side of things and relax a little. ;o)

 

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