This morning my dad called and asked if F and I wanted to get coffee with him. I had work to finish, so F went ahead and met him at a nearby cafe and I’d join them after I finished. Waiting a bit would also give my dad a solid 45 minutes or so to get all of his conspiracy theory anxiety out of the way before I arrived. Because, “baby, you need to buy gold and silver,” for one hour can wear on the sanity. There’s nothing wrong with being prepared but I’m already anxious enough without “THE ECONOMY COULD COLLAPSE ANY DAY” hanging over my head.
When I walked in the cafe, my dad and F were seated in the far west corner in the sunlight in a few leather lounge chairs. “Hey baby,” my dad said. He stood up and kissed my face 456 times. F nodded to me and my dad joked, “looks like the boss is here, buddy!” I rolled my eyes and sat down in a lounge chair, “yeah, at ease,” I said. I asked my dad about his day a little, we chatted about my younger siblings and about some Zucchini Persian dish he wanted to make. Then he pulled out his phone and started texting and getting all smiley and I was all, “what are you up to?” And he showed me some text messages between himself and one of his friends that were really intensely affectionate and I was like, “so are you guys dating? Does he know you’re married?” And my dad laughed. But seriously because the messages were something like:
Friend: Hey wanna go to the gym?
Dad: Oh, sweetheart, I’d love that.
Friend: Great! See you there!
Dad: Oh, I’ll be looking forward to it, baby.
This is how my dad talks to everyone. Busboys, waitresses, best friends, his kids, everyone is “sweetheart,” “baby,” or “tiger.” When I was younger, it embarrassed the shit out of me to have my dad call the woman at the sandwich counter, “baby.” As in, “I’ll have the Torky (turkey) sandwich baby.” But, as an adult, it only slightly embarrasses me but I mostly just find it adorably weird. F got up to go to the bathroom and during a pause in the conversation with my dad, I reached into my bag to grab something. Apparently, I took too long and he got bored because out of nowhere he started blasting Persian music. I looked up and my dad was sitting there, in the sun, with his eyes closed and his iPhone turned up on the highest volume while he swayed back and forth. An older gentleman across from us lowered his newspaper to peer at my dad over the top of it. A young couple on the other side of the cafe turned to look, too. And my dad? Oblivious, because he was having the best time ever.
F came back from the bathroom. I stretched and felt my stomach rumble. “Are you guys hungry?” I asked. Being hungry is like the end of all things for ethnic families so I knew that both my husband (who is from Italy) and my dad (who is from Iran) would quickly rush me towards food. My dad stood up, “yeah baby, let’s go get you some Pho.” He shot Francesco a look like, “well, let’s go,” and F grabbed his coat. My dad began filling his pockets and then got this really bummed out look on his face. “What’s wrong?” I asked. My dad sighed, “I can’t find my trainers.”
“Trainers,” are little squares with a connecting band that my dad carries with him EVERY SINGLE DAY in case he needs to use chopsticks. Just in case. It’s not like as a Persian man living in Salt Lake City he eats Chinese food or Vietnamese food for every meal, but just in case, he’s fucking ready. The last time we hung out, I took him for Pho and he fished them out of his pocket and stuck them on his chopsticks and I was all, “what the hell?” and he looked at me like it was the most normal thing in the world and said, “it’s my cheaters, baby,” and I immediately took a picture of them.
So, anyway, he was sad that he didn’t have his trainers or “cheaters,” for Pho but I assured him that he probably mistakenly left them in his other jacket and he was all, “well I hope so,” in a very serious manner.
At the Pho place, as soon as F and I finished ordering my dad paid and went to find a seat. While F and I gathered napkins and things, Persian music started blasting from a corner of the restaurant. I looked up and there was my dad again, volume up, eyes closed, just having the time of his life. Mother’s turned around to stare, kids were wondering why the Pho restaurant had become a middle eastern dance club, and F and I just shrugged. Because, well, we’re used to it. My dad might be a total weirdo (and he is) but he’s our weirdo.
After lunch, my dad said goodbye and rushed off declaring himself “a very busy man” on the way out. On the way home, F magically ended up at a grocery store without telling me he was stopping anywhere and I was like, “don’t just go places when we’re together without mentioning it to me, dude. I’m not your purse.” He thought that was hilarious and he laughed and I fantasized about the many ways to choke him to death.
Inside the store, he beelined it for the bread counter and asked for 9,000 samples. I wandered away from the cart to buy succulents and cashew milk. We walked around the store for a while, argued about what kind of salad to make, and then decided it was time to leave. I reached into my bag to find my phone and my hand felt like I’d plunged it into a garbage can. There were dewy soft things wrapped in paper things and I was like WTF? Then I opened my bag wide for a good look and realized that F had asked for samples and instead of eating them, HE’D PUT THEM IN MY PURSE. ALL OF THEM.
“Babe,” I tapped him on the shoulder.
“Yeah?” He asked.
“Did you fill up my purse with bread samples?”
“Uhm, yes. Just leave them there, okay?”
Then he waved me off like I was being crazy by demanding to know why he’d turned my purse into a snack station for old food.
I shook my head and mumbled, “dude, between you and my dad. I swear to baby Jesus.”
And he laughed. And then I laughed.