My Father, Carl Marcus 1978.
From the chapter, “Going For A Drive”
“What’s a shnorra Daddy?”
“Mikey, it’s men or women who freeload and sponge, like leeches at corporate or government jobs because they have no original thoughts, business sense, or ambitions. AND EVEN WORSE, they have no panache or hustle. You never want to get caught up in that garbage kid, it’s a dead-end life. A real fucking horror show.”
He turned up Frank Sinatra and ran his gold rings on the Caddie’s plastic steering wheel. He sang “My Way” as he gunned the red Eldorado up the 101 past Cambria. My father drove us all over California. We motored from Point Conception to the Mexican border, from San Fernando to San Francisco, Burbank to Barstow and all the nooks and crannies in between. He feeds us Ghirardelli chocolates, Pismo Beach clam chowder; date shakes from Hadley’s, root beer floats from A&W, fried shrimp from Howard Johnson’s, and pea soup from Andersen’s. On many occasions, he would wad up the check and stick it in his pocket, and we’d just walk out. “Let’s play a game kids. It’s called dine and dash.” If the waitress ever stopped us on the way out, he’d say, “must have slipped my mind,” then pay the bill. Once in our travels, my father took us to Fedco. He had acquired ‘paid’ stickers that a manager friend stole from the cash register. These stickers were used for big-ticket items that couldn’t be bagged. He’d slap a sticker on an item (toasters, irons, roller-skates, bicycles, even a color TV he put on a dolly) and we’d walk out.
When he was tired he’d pull into a rest stop and say, “OK you little cuties, shut the fuck up now. I’m sleeping, and I want silence.” He had no problem throwing an open fist into the back seat if we woke him. He called it “backhand therapy.” At home, he called it “wall-to-wall counseling.” My sister and I would sit back there wired on sugar and freak out about waking him. Then he’d wake up, and we were off. We also played road games. “Hey kids, you want to play house of horrors?”
There was silence.
“How do you play that game Daddy?” My sister asked.
“We think of the worst possible scenario that could occur in a house filled with children.” More silence, for what seemed like an eternity. “For example, a banister that is sharpened like a shaving razor, and when you slide down it cuts you in two, haha!”
“Ok dad,” I said nervously.
“Or a special well lit room where they take a hole punch to your eyelids so your pupils are always exposed to the bright lights.”
“Eww,” said Lorraine.
“Or a chair with tacks and nails on it that you’re forced to sit in.”
“Dad, how about being stuck in a car that plays Frank Sinatra, over and over and over, forever?”
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