This Pig is My Father, Which Is Less Shocking Than The Part In Star Wars When Luke Loses His Hand Which Was SUPER Shocking To My 12 Year Old Self

When I was thirteen and Diana was eleven, our family was supposed to go on a trip to Europe. Two days before we were supposed to leave, my mother was playing basketball with my sister in the driveway. Despite having spent her life up until that point being a vaguely doughy nerd whose greatest athletic achievement was doing a thirty minute exercise video once a week , my mother decided that she was going to channel Michael Jordan and leaped to make a jump shot. She missed of course. And she also landed funny, snapping her left Achilles tendon in two.

My mother spent the next six weeks in a hip to toe cast while Diana, my father and me traipsed about Europe. It was the first time in our lives that our Dad had been responsible for us for any significant length of time.

While my Dad has a healthy respect for rules, ultimately his favourite go-to was “What did you mother say?” because when push came to toy begging, extra cookie wanting, may I stay up until midnight shove, my mother was the bad cop, the last stop, the enforcer of all the household regulations.

There’s nothing quite like a teen and a tween being given carte blanche to demand their wildest fantasies in a foreign country. My Dad’s greatest desire is for his family to be happy, so if that means that his children eat only apricots from the local produce stand for every meal three days straight, well bring on the diarrhea, because gosh darn it his girls are happy.

And we were. The only time I heard “No” that trip was when I told a snooty Parisian waiter that I wanted Nutella pizza for dinner and the man replied “Absolutely not. That is a dessert, you must choose something else.”

For two weeks my sister and I ate what we wanted. We ran wild through French cities. We swung our umbrellas and danced with them open on the crowded British tube. On the airplane we sang the same song over and over for forty minutes straight, no doubt annoying the hell out of every other passenger around us save for my father who smiled and recorded the event for posterity sake.

And then we visited Harrods. Renowned for being posh and having everything, crossing the threshold into the store’s hallowed entranceway; my father recounted the story of a man walking into Harrod’s asking to buy an elephant. The salesman, without missing a beat, replied coolly, “African or white Sir?”

My Dad wanted us to have a souvenir from this iconic store. We wandered around, looking at all the expensive wares. Recognizing how expensive the merchandise was, my sister and I ceased our umbrella swinging dance. Had I asked for a pair of 300 dollar bejeweled shoes, my father would have bought them- so long as I assured him that I would be endlessly happy with them. As it was, my sister and I were in essence, still children, which is how my father got away with not dropping a fortune that day. My sister chose a battery powered gerbil that you could place in a plastic ball that would then roll all around the room. I chose and obnoxiously loud toy pig which walked and oinked.

That afternoon we drove from London to Brighton. My sister and I were unimpressed with Brighton- we found it dirty. To this day, I remember my description of the hotel’s décor: 70’s psychedelic vomit. Despite my rudeness, my Dad laughed because we all found the brown carpet and wall paper dated.

There was one bright spot to the working class town- the pier with carnival games and rides which transported one back to the turn of the century as you walked along the aged boards with the bright, large light bulbs strung above the walkways. Diana and I begged to go on the rides. Ever the people pleaser, my Dad purchased a string of tickets. We elected to go into the scariest ride, an idea that wouldn’t have flown had my mother been there- she was absolutely opposed to any suggestion of violence. The gory exterior alone inspired fear in my young teenage heart.

The three of us wouldn’t fit in one cart so Diana, always the braver of the two of us, gallantly offered to ride alone. The doors to the ride opened and in front of us was a torture scene. This was absolutely not a children’s ride. “Close your eyes!” my sister shrieked at me, knowing my tendency to have nightmares. My hands flew up to my face, shielding my mind and my eyes from the terror all around.

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I kid you not, it was like being a horrified extra in the “Saw” movies. (Photo Credit : dreadcentral.com)

My Dad’s arm pulled me close, I felt badly for Diana who was all alone while I cowered against Dad. At one point I worked up some courage and peaked through my fingers only to see a person covered in blood and knives flashing above them. I screamed and squeezed my eyes shut again.

Despite having only seen approximately three seconds of the ride, my legs wobbled as we exited the ride car. Diana, my Dad and I explored the pier a little longer, and then headed back to the hotel. In all of the excitement of the day, Diana and I had forgotten about our new toys.

My eyes burned with the lateness of the hour but my face smiled with delight as we watched Diana’s gerbil roam around the brown carpet and wedge itself briefly under the bed. My pig’s loud “oinks” cut through the silence of the hotel night. I remember the joy of that moment, watching these toys with my Dad and sister after a day of “Yes”.20171007_120058

To me, this pig is my father; it represents all of the times he agreed just for the sake of my and my sister’s happiness.

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NEWSFLASH –An Unwashed Addition!

My family was always enormous. After five years of being together Roscoe prides himself on knowing eighty percent of my relative’s names. However a new member has been added! So Roscoe will be back down to a seventy five percent accuracy rate.

Jessica, Carter’s Mommy* had been pregnant for some time. Nine months in fact. And last Saturday she had the baby. Tragically none of my names for the newborn were chosen, even though Carter has two mommies and I’m one of them.

Not really, however people at the Winnipeg Folk Festival probably thought as much last summer. Like any self respecting festival of the arts, the place was packed with same sex families. Walking around, Jessica and I each holding one of Carter’s small hands we looked a lot like the happy gay couples wandering about with their children. Also I totally claimed the role of the fun parent, mostly because I was unwashed, covered head to toe in dirt and invariably about half of me would be sopping wet at any given time.

While Jessica ran around volunteering for the festival, Carter and I just ran around, at top speed. However unlike many of the fun Dad parents, I didn’t eject Carter from his stroller when we hit one of the inevitable tree roots embedded in the ground on our runs. Prior to these off roading sprints I would  securely strap Carter into his chariot.

Other children at the festival were not always privy to such precautions and as a result I witnessed a couple of child flings.

it's not the thing you fling, but the fling itself

Not unlike on Northern Exposure when they flung a piano, the children soared into the air. But instead of an art piece, it was more about comedy. Although what Chris In The Morning said still applied

 ” It’s not the thing you fling, but the fling itself.”                                              It didn’t really matter who was being flung, it was still hilarious.(Photo credit: tnarik)

 Dads moved across the festival fields, squiring gaggles of children about in buggies, then creating human catapults using said wagons and an obstinate rock.  Into the air and over the sides the children would tumble. Unless it was a front facing stroller, invariably it would take the Dads a second to realize that their load was lighter for a reason. The children would lie sprawled across the ground, dazed by the sun and their sudden flight. I of course would be the jerk who was splitting their side laughing. The Dads would then gather the kids up, placing them back into the stroller or wagon and continue on their way, buckles swaying devil-may-care next to small torsos and paying no attention to the various tree roots and potholes on the path. It was the best entertainment to be had at the festival, aside from the music of course.

Replica catapult at Château des Baux, France

Baby transportation device or instrument of siege? Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the two apart. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyway, back to the new addition to my family. So despite being mistaken for one of Carter’s two mommies both of my name choices were turned down. I offered up two reasonable options, one for a boy, one for a girl.

Mini Carter for a boy, because Carter is such a great name, so why not have two. Admittedly it would be confusing, however the amount of name yelling would be reduced by half at a crowded playground. Also the “Mini” could be used when you need to distinguish between the two.And for a girl I suggested Cartera. Also for simplicity’s sake. For whatever reason, Jessica and her husband vetoed both of these ideas.

Regardless, my happiness over the new arrival is boundless. I’m looking forward to flying out to meet the little bundle of joy and I shall promise forwards, backwards and upside down that I shall strap the new family member firmly into the stroller before running with it, no matter how amusing small human projectiles are.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of those who didn’t actually want to be mistaken for being in a couple with me. Seeing as Jessica is all for gay rights, gay marriage, gay adoption and gay children, I think the problem was me. Maybe it’s the height difference, or maybe it was the fact that I kept telling people I hadn’t showered in a week and a half. Whatever the reason, Jessica didn’t want to be falsely identified as my other unwashed half, so I can assume she doesn’t want her name on here either.

Also names have been changed to protect the innocent and under aged. But not the small, at the tender age of four, Carter may very well surpass me in height this year.