It was May 25, 1987 and I was about to embark on my first date with Nick Quivers*, a tall, deeply tanned eighteen year old decked out in tight acid wash jeans and a turquoise wife beater. He had a sparsely populated moustache and carefully crafted mullet, his bangs perfectly turned under by a curling iron.
Dad tore his eyes away from an episode of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, took one look at Nick and immediately sprung into action.
"Don’t Fuck," Dad signed as I stood awkwardly in the foyer of our apartment trying to shield my date from witnessing this horrifying display of fatherly advice. Nick quickly surmised something was amiss and began tensely backing himself out the front door. Although he didn’t know sign language, certain signs are easily discernable, especially when viewed through the eyes of a horny seventeen year old male.
Oh sure, the sign for “Fuck” isn’t as obvious as “Condom” or “Vagina” or as crass as say “Lesbian,” but Nick wasn’t as dumb as he looked.
"Don't fuck," Dad persisted. "I don't want you pregnant. I want you graduate and go college.” This last minute, panicked advice delivered with an intense scowl and widened black eyes constituted the most words Dad had signed to me collectively in over a year.
"I know, I know!" I furiously signed back. Jesus Christ, I was almost sixteen years old! I was a straight A student, a big star in the drama club and held a full time job. I was helluva lot more responsible than he was. I should be the one giving him advice:
-- Um, Dad, the bong you handcrafted the year of my birth is not a prized heirloom. Quit promising it to me and start a savings account. The pennies you’re collecting in the empty beer keg don’t count.
-- Don’t neglect to pick me up after basketball practice because you were busy with your mistress – you know, the one who gives you free drinks at the nightclub she owns. And for god’s sake when you do finally pick me up at 10:45, don’t be wasted.
-- And finally, I steal cigarettes from you, not the other way around.
Despite his being a less than perfect role model, I took any advice he gave very seriously. I had come to learn when Dad meant business simply by one look. It was the same look he got when I crossed in front of the television during any Dallas Cowboys game and he’d scream "MUDDAH FUH!" Screeching "Mother Fucker" in a high pitched deaf voice to your daughter tends to leave a lasting impression. So when this look swept across his face coupled with a very intense “Don’t Fuck,” well, Nick Quivers wasn’t getting anywhere near my “Vagina”.
Ever since the Nick Quivers Incident of ’87, I had carefully avoided introducing boyfriends to Dad. Since I rarely dated anyone longer than six months, this was never a problem.
But I had been dating Christian for three years now and we planned on getting married. So, I was understandably nervous when we turned the corner and headed down the winding path that led to Dad’s latest address. Part of why we had waited to visit till now is because Dad was always a bit of a nomad. But those days are long gone ever since he took up residence at the Texas State Penitentiary.
He was sentenced to 20 years for trying to kill his girlfriend. Or, his third wife. I'm not really sure since he never technically divorced from his second wife. She was stabbed five times. Almost decapitated. The cops burst in on them as they struggled. Since Dad is deaf he didn't hear the police break in so they caught Dad straddling her holding the knife. But he’s innocent! Just ask him.
Dad entered the visiting area with his trademark strut – the cockiness was still dripping from every pore. He was putting on his cool Dad attitude. A futile endeavor considering he was clad in prison whites and looked like a rattier version of Nick Nolte from that infamous DUI photo.
Dad took his seat behind the protective glass and I interpreted introductions. “Christian this is Dad. Dad this is Christian.” So far, so good.
We spent much of our four hour visit watching Dad regale us with tales of his escapades from his days in the "Free World", many which involved either weed, drinking or gambling but usually a combination of all three."One night I was out partying, dancing, drinking, you know. I saw a beautiful woman watching me play pool. I wanted to show off so I acted like that movie Color of Money and twirled my pool cue. I didn’t hear her walk up and swung around. The stick hit her head and her hair went flying. SHE WAS BALD! I screamed and grabbed the hair and put it on her head. 'Sorry, Sorry, Sorry!' I never saw her again. HAHAHA!"
He also had a long list of items he wanted to be sure to tell us before time ran out.
—"I want you sneak in a $100 bill." He can buy 8 packages of loose tobacco and make over $500 profit and not have to do any of the selling. “Don’t worry, you won’t get caught.”
—Get him the Sunday New York Times. "Only Sunday . . .I want to see what the big deal is." And Discovery Magazine . . . "I love reading about new technology, computers...OH, and what's a blog?"
—"Look in my box of pictures..." and send him photos of the women he slept with over the years all of them in sexy poses and different stages of nudity.
—Get a message to his friend Larry who was transferred to another prison after suffering severe beatings at the hands of the guards because they found drawings of nude children in his cell. "He TOLD me he's not a child molester, just a flasher! That's nothing. And they beat him? Why? Larry said they weren't drawings of children, no, they're midgets—not dwarves, that's different—midgets."
And with that, the four hours were over. Christian had officially passed muster by essentially sitting and smiling politely on the better side of the prison glass.
A few days after our visit, we received a letter from Dad.
“Christian, yes I have great time with you. I guess that you are good enough to be my son in law. And I wish you best & happy being with my daughter. Remember, don’t try: Adultery, drunkeness, dopeheads. Promise me. Don’t forget me.”
In this case, father really does know best.
*Not his real name since he read it and was kind of mad. Eep! So, I changed it. Interesting side note, thanks to the magic of Google I discovered that Nick Quivers is now a contemporary Christian rock star. I don’t know what the groupie scene is like in that industry but I’m guessing he doesn't get near vagina these days either. Poor Nick Quivers.