Friday, September 30, 2011

The Importance of Dads

Twenty years ago, I was a different person. I was driving 50 minutes one-way every day of the work week to a dead end job that a monkey could do with its eyes shut. And some days, I did.

At home, I was involved with someone who was more lost than me. I’m a romantic and love the idea of love, so even though the relationship was just as dead-end as the job, I hung on for a sahara desert stretch of time that eventually turned my heart to dust.

In the middle of that lost time, I was so bored that I started playing guitar, writing really crappy/sappy lurve songs, and gigged occasionally in really run down bars in seedy parts of Dallas where Eagles covers and Melissa Etheridge played well.  It would’ve been an ideal time to smoke lots of dope and coast. I had the coasting part down, but never did get into the dope smoking. Something about not being in school any more made it feel too degenerate for even my rock-bottom self to stomach.

I was living several hours away from my parents at the time and since they were none too happy with my living arrangements, I rarely saw them and spoke with them only under the direst of circumstances, usually compelled by my need for money.

I got myself into many a dire circumstance during that time. It’s like my subconscious self was doing everything in its power to destroy the carefully constructed semblance of sanity I’d built up around me so that I’d open my eyes and run like hell. For way too long, I kept that subconscious battering ram at bay with duct tape, bailing wire, and string.

At the time, I was driving an awesome old hand-me-down from my brother, which is pitiful given that I’m four years older than my brother.  He was still in undergrad, working his way to medical school, with a baby on the way, a wife, a house, and a near 4.0 GPA.

The car was a 1987 Nissan Pulsar NX, aka “the Nix.” A two door, t-top job that was super cool to drive and had a stereo that was the best part of my daily commute. With hindsight, I understand why Boston’s “Feelin’ Satisfied” and “Peace of Mind” were on auto-repeat during my commute.  I wasn’t and I was looking for some.

A fender bender during one of the day’s commute left my Nix drivable, but barely. The hood of the Nix had been damaged so badly that it wouldn’t close all the way. As many country girls are wont to do, I just duct taped and bailing wired that sucker down. Tight.

Or so I thought.

One day, as I was driving the back country road from my home to the interstate, my hood flew right off the car. 

Whoosh! One minute it was there, the next it was a mangled blue blur careening over the top of the car like a broken kite attempting flight. I just knew it had smashed into whoever was unfortunate enough to be behind me. I gaped open mouthed into the rear view mirror expecting a pile-up. Instead, a cloud of dust was rising from the side of the road where the crunched cover was rocking, up-side down.

I remember slowing down to pull over and the guy behind me passing. I didn’t want to look. I could feel his eyes, I was mortified. Of course, I looked.

He looked back with blame, each shake of his head a reproach, “girl, what were you thinking?!” And I thought of my dad.

Well, I’d jerry-rigged the hood in such a fashion because I had no money to get it fixed in the first place. But desperate times call for desperate measures and so I set to work coming up with a way to handle the situation without having to call my folks for money. Instead of actually doing something, I made a list of business ideas I could start. I’m glad I no longer have that list because they were all horrible, but one I remember.

In Texas at this time, and certainly where I lived, there was a lot of construction work taking place. And where you see construction, there are always hungry, hard-working men. I’d often see two to three dented and nasty looking trucks surrounded by throngs of workers during my commute. They were selling food and no matter how ratty the vehicle, it was usually getting takers.

I knew absolutely nothing about this business, but I figured if I could come up with a solid business plan, I could get a loan for a vehicle and inventory and give it a go.

It was during this planning phase that I had a call from my parents. I still hadn’t done any research on my plan, so, of course, that made it a perfectly good time to bring it up with Dad. It kind of went like this:

“So Dad, I think I have a good business idea!”

“*Silence* What do you mean?”

“Well, I think I’m going to start a business!” 

“You’ve already got a job. What do you mean, start a business?”

“Well, there’s all this construction in town and I’m thinking of getting one of those trucks and selling food to construction workers?”

“You mean like those girls that wear skimpy clothes and go out to job sites?”


“Are you talking about a roach coach?!”


“A roach coach!!”

“Dad, what’s a roach coach? I’m talking about a truck that sells sandwiches and drinks and chips and stuff to construction workers!”

I’m sure he asked about financing and numbers and inventory and costs and WHAT THE HELL I WAS THINKING and WHERE DID I THINK I WAS GOING TO GET THE MONEY, but all I can remember from the conversation was the utter horror and humiliating disdain with which my dad said, “roach coach?!” and “girls in skimpy clothes!!”  

And that, dear readers, is pretty much how I think most decisions to apply to law school are made.



  1. Do you sometimes wish you have gotten a roach coach? Me..I'm glad you didn't. xoxo

  2. No, Dad, but sometimes I do wish I'd taken up the pot-smoking bit.




  3. Roach coach???? I was going to raise tarantellas...and sell them....seriously, I was. They're considered "exotics"....and one mommy spider can have lots of about $35 a pop. Yeah I actually had a business plan....

    Now I wax hoo hoo' much better....

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  5. This is evocative and very well rendered. Having been in a similar spot it frightens me that your solution was law school.

  6. Thanks for writing this. This gives hope for fathers of daughters. Believe me.

  7. Parents are important figures in our lives. Celebrate the love of our parents every day, including Father's Day!

  8. @Terry - yes, a roach coach...can you believe it? Makes me laugh typing this even now. I once had an uncle who almost went into business raising worms. Or maybe he did go into that business and realized the futility? I don't know.

    @Laoch - scary, huh? Sometimes, I think my clients feel the same way.

    @dbs - good to hear. Dads are important.


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