Daddy doesn't like it when I call him a big fat lying cheaterface.
Which is a problem because he is a big fat lying cheaterface.
Yeah, I know that sounds unbelievably juvenile, but that's how we do it in my family. Cuss words out, immature name-calling in. Not to mention yelling and screaming. We looove those. Melodrama to the max, because the more you yell about something, the smaller it looks in hindsight. Mom never got that, never got us. Daddy and me were just "irreconcilably different" from her, or at least that's what it says on the divorce papers.
But so what if my mom's a mean stinky-head? I only have to see her on weekends. The rest of the time, it's just Daddy and me.
At least, I thought so. I thought basketball was just for us—those late-afternoon games of one-on-one on the backyard hoop. I thought rollerblading was just for us—those reckless races down the narrow streets. All those DVDs we watched together in the den—everybody else knew: Movie theaters were for me and my friends, DVDs and Netflix were for me and my dad. And the dancing—that goofy, ridiculous rocking out we do on karaoke night with our imaginary band—that was for our living room, our stereo, our music, our invisible instruments, all ours. Obviously! Gosh, do I have to spell everything out for him?
"WHO IS SHE?" I bellow, storming into the kitchen of our apartment and throwing my backpack on the floor in the most flamboyant way I can.
"Excuse me?" Daddy puts on his innocent face and hands me my mug of after-school chocolate milk.
"DON'T 'EXCUSE ME' ME!" I slam down the mug, splattering the countertop and my hand. "I SAW YOU WITH THAT HUSSY! YOU WERE DANCING WITH HER! DANCING! WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT ABOUT, YOU BIG POOP?"
Daddy almost spoils it all right there; the grin cracks across his face at the insult, but only for a split-second before he whips back into the act: "Young lady, don't you DARE speak that way about the women I date!"
"WELL, DON'T YOU DARE DANCE WITH THE WOMEN YOU DATE! THAT'S SOMETHING WE DO, YOU AND ME! NOBODY ELSE!"
He wags a finger. "WHAT IF I LIKE DANCING WITH HUSSIES, HUH?"
"IF YOU CHEAT ON ME, I'M GONNA CHEAT ON YOU!"
We both lose it right then, collapsing against the table, laughing so hard it hurts.
So, um, yeah. This is why Mom left. We're a bit on the far side of normal, Daddy and me. Neighbors don't call us the "Caps-Lock Couple" for nothing.
"By the way," Dad says as I gulp my chocolate milk, "the hussy's name is Andy and I'll be seein' her again on Thursday, if we can coordinate our break time."
I choke and spew chocolate milk halfway across the table, but Dad's already on his way out. "Andy?" I splutter. "What kind of a name is that?"
"Short for Andrea," Dad calls over his shoulder, opening the front door. "And glass houses, Crackerjack. Glass houses. Don't go throwin' stones."
I blow a very loud raspberry at him, but he just grins and shuts the door, leaving me alone with my chocolate milk mess. I rip off a jagged strip of paper towel to mop it up, but my hand is shaking so I just make it worse.
The splatters of spilled milk swirl across the table, smirking and twisting into a silhouette of my dad, my goofball dad, out in the parking lot of the supermarket where he works, with our old boom box, with some random lady who's wearing a cashier's vest. Daddy, bobbing his head to the music, playing an invisible drum set, grinning from ear to ear; Random Lady laughing at him, then with him, then twirling and air-guitaring . . .
I shouldn't have wasted my free period rushing out there to see him. Should have gone with my pals to that new pizza place. Sure, Daddy always takes his long break in the afternoon so he can come home and give me chocolate milk, but there's no law that I have to drop in on him during my breaks! I'm allowed to be an ungrateful tenth grader once in a while, right? Right!
The paper towel tears down the middle, and I hurl it at the floor. "Damn it! "
Whoa. I must be really mad. Which is weird beyond belief, because I hardly ever get mad at Dad, and I never, ever, ever stay mad after a screaming match. We air our grievances, no matter how tiny they are, scream them out of our systems, laugh like maniacs, and get over ourselves. Except now I've gone all glitchy and I'm swearing at inanimate objects. Bravo, Crackerjack. Wanna go yell at the TV for showing the Five O'clock News at five o'clock? That'll be super productive.
But I can't shake it. All through my homework, it eats at me, nibbling and gnawing like some overgrown rat. The more I think about it, the more my blood boils, so I try not thinking about it, and my head practically pops off.
I'm being ridiculous! It's not like this Andy lady's the first hussy to come along and sink her hooks in my dad. I mean, yeah, it's weird to think of my dad as somebody's boyfriend, but he's not that old and he's got good hair and it's happened before.
Still, Dad's always had a hopeless case of the opposites. As in, he attracts them. Andy lady doesn't fit the profile. But I suppose that after a lawyer, a doctor, and some gal who edits a major magazine, Dad was bound to notice the pattern—retail clerks and sleek, sophisticated chicks do not go together. Their loss, my gain. Suckers!
But this Andy chick is different. Clearly. Argh. No, seriously, what kind of guy would dance with his daughter if he can dance with his girlfriend? A weirdo, that's what.
He is cheating on me. Oh, Dad—it is so on.