“…and we’re just trying to figure out what kind of party my Daddy wants for his 70th birthday,” she innocently says while settling back in a cushy, gold seat.

And I smile at her while imagining ways to bring her pain:

Should I pull out each of her eyelashes with my teeth?

Thump her Adam’s apple?

Trip her when she gets up to go to the bathroom to smooth her hair?

Take a fork and tear her stockings crotch to toe?

Gut her like codfish?

File her elbows with an emery board?

Pluck her eyeballs with a corkscrew?

Pull her hair out with masking tape, strand by strand?

Break her knuckles with a butterknife?

Headbutt  her in the belly?

Lift her above my head and spin her around like we’re WWF chicks?

What should I do with this sweet woman I’m having lunch with who is gleefully planning her father’s upcoming birthday party? I hate her. I’m so jealous of her joy, billowing from her skin like coolwhip.¬†

I wish I could sit in Busboys eating a bowl of tomato basil soup while mulling party options for dear old dad. 

My funny, quirky, goofy, New York City by way of Marion, SC daddy has been dead for quite a while. I never planned a party for him nor did I ever discuss the possibility with my sister but I know Daddy would’ve loved to be celebrated with cake and punch. He was a festive elf of a guy who failed at just about everything he tried but never stopped making me laugh. He was like a black Woody Allen. The self-effacing life of the party.

He used to tell the story of the time he and his numbers-running brother (all 4 feet 7 inches of him) bought a candy store. A tiny transistor radio played dance tunes which sounds like fun (and a great marketing concept) except Daddy says folks came in to party but never bought anything and the business went under.

He sighed each time he told this story but I always battled back the giggles bubbling up in my throat. He was pathetic and hilarious. He was Daddy.

I should’ve thrown him a party. It would’ve been such an act of love and redemption. Maybe dancing with me, his baby girl, would’ve made him forget all about the store that failed and the disappointments that littered his life like Baby Ruth wrappers.

So, I’m mad at this happy woman sitting before me all glossy with joy. I want to pinch her ears til they turn red or stick toothpicks between her eyelids. But mostly, I want her to stop talking before I start to cry.

Death is the grandmother of all regret, right? It closes the front door on what could’ve/should’ve been and tosses us, empty handed, on the back porch of pain and guilt. There are no parties there, only sagging streamers and Pepsi cans crushed on the floor.

Grief crushes us on the floor then laughs from the office party happening just above our heads. Grief is the noisemaker we blow but no sound comes out. The uneaten bowl of salmon dip.

I’m pissed off at her and me. I’m turquoise with envy, but I sit there, stir my soup. Smile. Sigh. I’m ridiculous.

Daddy’s girl.


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