Starring Erick Davidson: The Father
Submission by Terrence Moss, TNG contributor. Moss is a short fiction writer and media commentator with articles featured on Associated Content and Suite 101. “Starring Erick Davidson” also appears in the blogosphere section of www.frontiersweb.com. More Erick Davidson stories and other works can be found at www.terrencemoss.blogspot.com.
Follow the adventures of Erick Davidson, an early thirtysomething from New Jersey who has lived in Los Angeles for the better part of a decade, every Wednesday at 12 p.m.
“Hi Dad, it’s Erick…” Erick says into his cell phone as he and Chris are preparing Sunday dinner of turkey meatloaf, mashed potatoes and oven-roasted asparagus for themselves, Hunter, Elyke, Cole and Mitch.
Chris tilts his head in confusion as he begins rinsing off a three pound bag of potatoes.
“…I just wanted to call and wish you a Happy Father’s Day. I sent you a card that I hope arrived in time. I sent it on Thursday. I probably should have sent it on Wednesday, but well…that didn’t happen…” Erick trails off as he seasons the turkey meatloaf with pepper, oregano and seasoned salt.
Chris looks over at the meatloaf concoction, quickly dries his hands and reaches into the cabinet for a box of crackers.
“…As I was writing a note in the card, I was having second thoughts about it because it had flowers on the front but no mention of Father’s Day. I had just watched the Father’s Day Christmas episode of The Cosby Show where Cliff was complaining about the gifts he’d received over the years. In the episode—“
“He’s probably seen it,” Chris interjects, knowing that Erick could go on about The Cosby Show for another half hour even if on a voicemail.
“…so that my have something to do with it…” Erick laughs as he takes two eggs out of the refrigerator. Chris smiles and shakes his head as he begins peeling the potatoes.
Erick cracks the eggs into the meatloaf mixture. “…I wanted to tell you a quick story. I was coming back from hiking this morning when I ran into Kevin, one of the maintenance techs for the building. He has two young sons and I said to him, ‘you’re working on Father’s Day?’”. Kevin said, ‘yes, but as soon as I am done here I am going to go back home and play with my boys.’ His eyes sparkled and he had this wide grin on his face. He was looking forward to it. I guess that made for a great Father’s Day for him – to be able to provide for his family and then have time to spend with the family he is providing for…”
Erick pauses for a moment. Chris looks up and thinks about what Erick had just said. The two of them look at each other as if considering that possibility for them. After another moment, they both shake their heads. Chris turns around and preheats the oven to 350 degrees.
“…at any rate, Dad. Happy Father’s Day. Talk to you soon,” Erick concludes as he disconnects the call, places the phone down on the counter, opens the bag of crackers and begins crushing them into the meatloaf mixture.
“That was your dad?” Chris asks.
“Your dad, dad?”
“Like, your real dad?”
Erick sticks his hands into the meatloaf mixture and begins blending all the ingredients together. “How many dads do you think I have?”
“I assumed only one but you never talk about him.”
“I don’t not talk about him. There’s just not much to talk about.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, he’s normal. Always has been. He’s just your typical dad.”
“You talk about your mom a lot, though.”
“She’s a different kind of normal.”
“What’s your dad like?”
“I always use this as an example. Our house in New Jersey was always open for friends and visitors from the neighborhood or from church.”
“Yes, he’s a minister. I grew up in church.”
“That makes sense, because you’re the only one who could ever reach me,” Chris says with an equal mix of levity and gravity.
Erick shakes his head. “That was corny but sweet. However, that’s mine and Christine’s song.”
“She’s a longtime friend of mine from home. We danced to that song at Senior Prom. We were serving ourselves dinner, but as soon as they song came on we dropped our plates and rushed into the ballroom. Then we came back out and ate.”
“But you digress.”
“Anyway, we’d have people over for random and often impromptu gatherings. While my mother and I were holding court in the living room, my father would be talking to one or two guests in the dining room or downstairs,” Erick stops blending for a moment. “If he was in the living, he’d just lean back in his armchair silently watching the proceedings with his right hand to the right side of his chin and one or two fingers pointed upward along the right side of his face. In rare contemplative moments, I find myself with hand to chin – only it’s all left side for me.”
“I’ve seen you do that. It’s not as rare as you think.”
“I never knew what he was thinking in those moments. To this day, I don’t know if he was watching us in amusement or hoping we’d go to commercial so he could go to bed. My guess it’s the latter since he’d do just that after a few hours – even with a house full of people,” Erick recalls with a chuckle.
“Does he know you are going to New Jersey next week for work?”
“Yes. And the money I am saving the company by staying with him instead of staying at a hotel is going toward a nice belated and expensed Father’s Day dinner.”
Chris laughs. “What have you told him about me?”
“He knows you exist, but we don’t talk much about the gay thing.”
“Does he have a problem with it?”
“It’s not so much that he has a problem with it. He just not thrilled with it. He loves his son more than he dislikes the fact that said son is gay.”
“Are you okay with that?” Chris asks as he places the potatoes in a pot, fills it with water, places it on the stove and turns on the burner.
Erick dumps the meatloaf mixture into a baking dish and forms it into a loaf. “I am. I meant to say this in the voicemail but when he watched me perform in school plays and later in the gospel choir in college, my father had that same look of pride in his father’s eyes that I saw in Kevin’s eyes this morning. I know he knew I was gay then but in those moments, it didn’t matter to him. I wasn’t his gay son. I was just his son. And even though I’m sure part of him would have liked to see me hit a homerun or score a touchdown, I’d like to think that the sound of applause for a great performance was just as sweet.”
Chris steps behind Erick and rests his chin on top of Erick’s head. “That’s a nice thought.”
“And if not, oh well. That applause was for me anyway,” Erick replies as he wraps foil over the meatloaf and places it in the oven.
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