Last month on Father's day, I was once again focused on the father who I never met. My mom always told me that he left us and never loved me. Then he died soon afterward. There has always been an empty space in my heart, and as I drive cars around America I often ponder what it would have been like to meet him.
My cell phone rang, and when I answered the familiar voice of sweet old Mrs. Sherman said "Hello, Bill."
"Hi, Mrs. Sherman. How are you?"
"Oh my, why thank you for asking. I am about to make a big batch of cookies. Chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and peanut butter. I just thought you'd like to know." And with that, she hung up. She is 94 years old and gets a little more eccentric with each passing day.
I was on my way to deliver a minivan to Albany, NY. Trying to decide where to stop for the night as I drove through the garden state of New Jersey. My cell phone rang again, and I saw my old friend Ed's name pop up. "Ed, how you doing?" I said into the phone. Hearing from him was just what I needed.
"Hey Bill, just wanted to let you know that Diane and the kids have gone to Oregon for two weeks. So if you pass by anywhere near here, the door is open and you can stay."
"Ed, I'm in New Jersey."
"I live in New Jersey, Bill."
"Yes, I'm aware."
"Where are you right now, right this minute?"
"A little over an hour from your house."
"Get a move on, the party won't start till you arrive!"
I hung up and drove with a sense of purpose. I was so happy to shake off the gloom of missing my Dad and bemoaning another sad Father's day. I arrived at Ed's one hour and fifteen minutes later, and he was waiting for me at the door. He gave me a handshake-hug, and it felt really good to be back. About a year ago, Ed had told me I couldn't come stay overnight for a while, due to his wife Diane's issues with me.
"Get your ass in here, pal," said Ed enthusiastically.
"Great to be here," I said.
"Great to have you."
"Great to be had."
Ed handed me a large glass of Coke. My first sip told me it was heavily laced with Jack Daniels. Then he offered me a large chocolate chip cookie. I thought of Mrs. Sherman and chuckled to myself. "I baked these myself," Ed said with pride.
I ate the huge cookie hungrily, and sipped some of my cocktail to wash it down. I was halfway through eating it, enjoying every last morsel. "This is delicious."
Ed pointed at me. "Now drink your drink, and then let's go to the Deja Vu club."
"Deja Vu? For gentlemen only?"
He shrugged. "I don't see why women wouldn't be welcome. But all I know is that I need a lap dance."
Well, maybe so did I. I do not frequent gentleman clubs, but on rare occassions I have gone to them and enjoyed cutting loose a bit. After all, I am a single bachelor, I have basic needs. The way I had been feeling all day today, I needed a distraction. "I'm driving," I told Ed.
"OK, but we are taking my new SUV. And shotgun!"
"Sounds about right."
30 minutes later, we were at the Deja Vu club. We walked in, and I must say that the women there were a cut above what I've seen before. I was also noticing that Ed was getting beyond tipsy. I knew that I had to stop drinking so that I could be the designated semi-sober friend.
We sat at the stage and tipped girls as they danced for us. Then Ed paid several girls to take me into the back for private dances. Oddly enough, my mind kept drifting to Karen, the love of my life. But truth be told, she likes women so if she were here she'd be getting her own private dances.
After an hour or so, Ed started telling me that he thought he was in love with one of the dancers. "I don't know Bill, I sorta kinda feel like we made a connection." Experience has taught me that this is the time to pack up and leave. When Ed talks about a connection, he's had enough.
I was driving us home, feeling a bit of the effects of my cocktails. Even though I had been drinking only water and coffee for the past hour. "Happy Father's day," I said to Ed.
"Same to you, bud. Oh but wait, you're not a dad. I'm sorry."
"Don't be. My only regret on Father's day is that I never got to meet my own dad."
Ed looked down and shook his head sadly. "That sucks. That really sucks. And you don't know anything about him."
"I've been researching and learning some stuff. Like I think I just found out where he was buried. It's in a cemetery right here in New Jersey."
Ed sat upright and alert. "Turn here!" he demanded.
"Turn right here, now!"
I did as he said, then followed his further directions. "Ed, where are we going?"
"Just shut up and trust me. I know what I'm doing."
I had my doubts about that, as he had been drinking a lot. But he seemed determined, and curiousity made me feel that I had to know our new destination. His last instruction put us onto a small road, and we rolled up to the gates of a cemetery.
"This is it!"
"This is what?" I asked.
"This is where your father is buried. I just know it, I am sure about this."
"Why? How could yo know?"
"Don't doubt me, I just know. You said a cemetery in New Jersey, this is it."
Ed interrupted me by shushing me. "We gotta get in there and find his tombstone. You know his name?"
"Of course I do."
"Good, good. Now we just gotta get in there."
"Ed, they are closed. Maybe we ought to come back tomorrow."
"Tomorrow is too late! We gotta go now!" He jumped out of the car and ran to the gate. I got out on my side of the car.
"What are you doing?" I asked with a laugh.
"I'm going over the top. Correction, WE'RE going over the top."
"I think that's a very bad idea."
"Don't you want to say hello to your father?"
"More than anything, but--"
"This is your chance, Bill. I want to introduce you to your father. Cuz that's what a true friend would do."
Ed tried in vain to scale the gate. It was a pretty pitiful attempt, but I guess he deserves an A for effort. I finally walked over to him as he fell for the tenth time. I was trying to figure out how to dissuade him from this plan so we could go back to his house. Just then, sirens blared in the distance, and Ed's eyes got very wide.
"Bill, its the cops! The jig is up, they're after us. We have to get out of here, now!" He ran to the driver's side of the car and jumped in. "Quick, get us out of here. Drive, drive!"
I looked in at him. "You'll have to get in the passenger seat if you want me to drive."
"Huh? Oh right, OK." He crawled over to his side of the car and I got in and drove us slowly home. By the time we got back to the house, Ed was out like a light. I carried him inside and dumped him onto his bed. Then I went to the guest room and fell fast asleep.
When I woke up in the morning, Ed was still sound asleep. I left him a note and had to get on the road to make my delivery in Albany later that afternoon. It had definitely been a Father's day to remember for a driving fool.