Years ago, my dad and I had an argument on the phone one night and it resulted in us not talking for two or three years.
While this was going on with my dad, I was also not in communication with my mom or brother. After two years of this, I missed my dad.
I’ve gone through this with my mom and brother a few times. But it bothered me with my dad. I never saw him as being this petty.
So after a shit-load of soul searching and talking to myself, I decided I was just going to go to his house to see what would happen. My wife was pregnant, and I figured a little one coming into the world would be a great reason to end a quarrel. No calls, no letters, just a pop-up. If he didn’t want me there, he could tell me to take a hike or hit me.
He opened the door and said “Hey Mike, come on in. I hear you got a baby on the way.” I walked in and we talked for a few hours and made plans for lunch the next week.
This was a case of us both sulking and then time just getting away from us. No hatred or petty bullshit. We were mad and then once we saw each other we put it behind us.
It’s a good thing too because, inside two to two-and-a-half years, my father would pass away.
In this time period, we shared a lot of conversations, music, and lunches. One of my favorite stories is this:
My dad and I ate lunch at a little Mexican restaurant called Vic’s on Tampa and Sherman Way in Reseda. I’m not sure if the place is still there. My dad and I hold the record for napkins used in a single meal. Pass by our table and you see dozens of balled up napkins all over the table.
Anyway, we’d eat lunch there at least once a month and then grab a cup of coffee somewhere and hit a bookstore, or record shop.
This afternoon, we would have a two for one. We headed down Tampa towards Borders bookstore, to read, drink coffee and shoot the shit.
We hop in the car going north on Tampa and for those of you who know the Valley, we get to the Pony Rides (near Parthenia) and there is a crosswalk there with no light. Dad is busy chatting away and doesn’t notice the crosswalk until the last second. He stops two-feet before these two twenty-something guys. I say nothing because I can tell he’s shaken. But the guys crossing the street weren’t so smart. One guy throws his hands in the air while mad-dogging my dad and says “What the fuck, man?” The other guy does the finger.
My dad was a tough ole guy and wasn’t going to take any shit, so he jumps out of the car and says: “What did you say?”
These two clowns decided to be tough and surround my dad. My dad was 58 or 59 at this time. Through all of this, no one saw my fat-ass in the car. As the two started to get close to my dad, I shot out of the car and said something melodramatic like “You fuckers are dead.”
One of the guys started to bolt, I reached out to grab him, but he was moving so fast all I could do was give him a kick in the ass.
So, I turned to the other guy, who was now the target of my anger and said “You think you’re a bad-ass, trying to fight an old man? You fucking punk!” He turns to face me as I have my hand around his throat, with his voice shaking and says “I was scared, man! I thought he was going to run me over!”
“Bullshit, ” I say, “scared guys don’t flip people off, or curse people out.” I then lifted this guy off the ground and tossed him onto the hood of my dad’s car.
Then, as I have my arm cocked back and ready to put a little dent on this guy’s nose, my dad honks the horn and yells at me to get into the car.
I yank the guy off the hood and toss him into the street. He scampers away like a crab.
I get in the car, buckle up and get ready to ask my dad how he is? Did he get hurt, etc.? He unloads: “What the hell are you doing?! You have to control your temper! Were you trying to kill that guy,” etc.?
My jaw dropped a bit. All I could get out was “No, sir.” But in the back of my mind, I was yelling: “I just saved your ass. I did what any son would do if they saw two guys coming to whip ass on one of their parents.” But I didn’t say that I just nodded and let him chew me out and tell me about my temper.
I told you all that to tell you all this:
In early 2004 I was given a flyer for a Hell’s Angels show, by one of my delinquent friends. I tell my dad about it, as we were both bike fans. Jesse James was going to be showing a couple of his bikes there and Chuck Zito, of the New York chapter, was going to stop by. So, dad and I thought it would be a cool thing.
We get to the place in Woodland Hills, find parking and start walking around. My eyes light up when I come across a few parts built by Arlen Ness. Met him, with my dad in the ‘70’s and he’s been a bit of a hero ever since.
Anyway, after we walk around for a while, we sit down for a minute and my dad turns to me and says: “Look, I’m not feeling really well today, so if you start some shit today, I won’t be able to back you up.”
My jaw drops, for a number of reasons. First, I didn’t start the shit we were in last time. He almost mowed people down and then jumped out of the car. Second, if I was feeling feisty and wanted to start shit, would I be so bold as to start shit at a Hell’s Angels convention?
So, I was a good son and said: “No problem. If I decide to take on the Angels, I’ll leave you out of it.” He gave me a look, and then said: “Yeah, let’s go to lunch.”
As we head towards Tampa, on our way to Vic’s, I give my dad a glance. As crazy as he seemed sometimes, I love him. Never in a million years did I know on that day that I would be delivering his eulogy in a year.
I miss him every day.