For me being a Daddy’s Girl meant spending my Friday evenings at home watching The X-Files and Star Trek: The Next Generation, watching my dad play The Legend of Zelda and muttering into my chocolate milk when the dodongo narrowly dodged a bomb. It meant having no lecherous Captain Kirk to compare with the virtuous Picard, and nodding as vehemently as my nine years would allow at Mulder-inspired conspiracy theories offered on drives to the park where we’d throw frisbees or dig for clay. My dad understood time travel and the many ways one hapless crew could violate the prime directive. My dad had theories about aliens.
Once he asked me, when had I realized that Luke and Leia were brother and sister? With an assumptive sniff, “Always, dad.”
In the summertime when it was so hot we couldn’t sleep, my mom and dad and brother and I slept all in the same room with a wall-mounted air conditioner, J and me on the floor on a cloud of comforters and sleeping bags. Out the window at night I could see stars and planes and once, I thought, a space ship. I woke everyone howling, convinced that I was or we were all about to be abducted. How they got me back to sleep I don’t remember, but I found what I was sure were crop circles in the yard the next day: dead shapes where ten-gallon barrels full of copper wire from my dad’s work truck had been left out in the sun. We spent our next Friday night with the same science fiction, proving my parents hadn’t learned what I’d tried to tell them when I was a preschooler and they had to stop me watching Scooby-Doo: I have an overactive imagination.
Weaned on Skynyrd and Pink Floyd, my brother and I would bounce anxiously in the back seat as my dad quizzed us on each song – artist, song title, album – that aired on the classic rock radio station, especially Sunday nights on The Jelly Pudding Show. Aerosmith’s ‘Dream On‘ really threw us for a loop until Steven Tyler began shrieking. Every Thanksgiving we had Alice’s Restaurant. When my dad put in his ZZ Top cassette with ‘La Grange,’ J and I played air drums and air guitar, respectively, and considered it a favorite second only to Alabama’s ‘Song of the South‘ and The Grateful Dead’s ‘Touch of Grey.’
After the divorce, my dad stopped listening to all of his old music, and it was like he’d stopped listening to me, too. I was twenty, too young to understand, the same as my mom had been when she’d married just a little younger. We didn’t talk and when we did we shouted. It was as though the stubborn, free-spirited heathen that was my dad hadn’t figured he’d raise an equally stubborn, free-spirited heathen; that the years I struggled to find myself – well after when it seemed everyone else was doing it, in high school – meant I struggled with what it meant to belong to my family, to own the things they’d given me in material and spirit.
What I’d loved as a girl, though, I loved still: my dad. The temper he’d given me. A rejection of Data’s cool logic and an incalculably flawed emotion chip. I wouldn’t have it any other way. We both try every day to be more human.