Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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“So I wore my jeans, my cowboy boots and my—“
“Not the cowboy boots!”
“Yes the cowboy boots!” My dad shouts down the line. “And a white tank top—“
“It’s called a wifebeater and it’s disgusting.”
“Go on then. What else?”
Dad continues his meticulous inventory of the clothing he wore to a barbeque the night before. “So I wore my WHITE TANK TOP and a button down shirt over that---.”
“Okay, that’s all right then, so long as you kept the button down shirt on.”
“We-ell. There was an after dinner incident.”

Dad is an affable man. He spends most of his time riding a snowmobile deep in the Rocky Mountains. After my parents’ divorce he faithfully devoted a few anguished years to lamenting his life and talking trash on my mom before landing a job repairing ski lifts at a popular ski resort in Colorado.

We’ve made up for lost time in my childhood by conducting bi-weekly phone calls analyzing our love lives, how much we love humanity but hate people and how violently underappreciated we are at our respective places of work.

There is the thrice monthly rant from Dad about how “those goddamn assholes at the ski resort couldn’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to appreciating a good electrician!"
“That’s funny dad, because you work at a ski resort.”
“Yeah – And?”
“There’s a forest, lots of trees? You ride a snowmobile through them all day?”
He ignores me and continues his usual rant. “So Johnson, he says to me ‘you’re going to have to drive into town to pick up that spare part. And I say ‘who do you think I am? That’s not in my job description.’ I’m supposed to waste two hours driving into the goddamn city for a spare part all because Johnson forgot to order it from the courier? He’s just covering his own ass. He’s the one that needs to drive to town and get the part and that’s exactly what I told him!"
“That’s telling him Dad.” I finished painting one set of toenails and moved onto the other.
“So Johnson completely freaks. I mean, this guy loses his shit, man!”
I drip red nail polish on my hardwood floors. “Fuck!”
“I know! Johnson stomps down the hall and complains to the supervisor. In the meantime I tool up to the lift on my snowmobile and have it running in no time. Turns out we didn’t even need the part.”
I swab the hardwood before the nail polish sets in."Nice" I sigh with relief when I see the polish wipes clean.
“I know. Dad chuckles at his cunning ingenuity. “So what’s new with you. You still dating that married guy?”
“No. Caught him on a date with his wife.”
“That bastard. Well, you’re better off. Let me tell you. He was never going to divorce her, I don’t care what he says. I’ve been into astronomy lately.”
“Yeah, you know, stars? I got a telescope and shit.”

I’ve seen dad through five or six girlfriends in the years after his divorce. He’s always calling to share anecdotes that generally begin with some form of “tell me I’m wrong…”
“What happened?”
“Me and Christa had Bill and Nancy over for dinner. You remember Bill and Nancy, my neighbors?”
“Bill and Nancy, yeah.” I have no recollection of Bill and Nancy but in a futile attempt at brevity and speeding the story along I feign remembrance to move him along.
“So I excuse myself to use the bathroom. There, happily floating in the toilet bowl is a giant, bloody tampon. I mean this sucker is the size of a shit! It’s obviously been there awhile because the water is the color of watermelon. I flush, use the facilities, flush again then step into the living room to bring it to Christa’s attention.”
“You WHAT?”
“I asked her why the hell she left a big tampon in the toilet.”
“In front of Bill and Nancy?”
“Hell no!... Just Nancy.”
“I’m telling you you’re wrong Dad. No further discussion required.”
“Really? Jesus, I thought women were okay with that kind of talk. I’m sure Nancy uses tampons.
“Really Dad. Just call and apologize. In fact, flowers wouldn’t hurt either.”

“Tell me I’m wrong.”
“Hey Dad. What’s up?”
“So Me and Christa are slicing vegetables for tacos. You know my tacos? The ones with chile peppers and my Special Sauce? Damn I’m an excellent chef. I should switch careers. I belong in a restaurant.” He digresses into a rather long missive touting his cooking abilities.
“You were telling me about slicing vegetables?”
“Oh. So Christa’s slicing jalapenos but instead of curling her fingers under, she’s got them splayed right out there on the cutting board. I could just see her slicing the tips of her fingers right off! I take the knife from her and tell her she has no clue how to cook and I’m going to show her the right way. Hello? Are you still there?
“Yes I’m listening. So you take the knife from her and--?”
“And that’s it! She freaks out and goes home.”
“You probably better apologize Dad.”
“Sounds like you came off a little condescending.”
“Condescending? Really? I was just worried about her cutting herself. She was slicing like a damn fool. Did I tell you I’m into bird watching now?”

And that pretty much brings us back to the conversation at hand - the wifebeater.
“An after dinner incident? What’s that supposed to mean Dad?”
“Well, like I said, I was wearing my tank top—“
“Stop saying that! I don’t beat women!”
“It doesn’t mean you beat women. Don’t you ever watch COPS? All the men that beat women wear them. That’s how they got the name. They’re the uniform for the jobless, hopeless, brainless fools of America.”
“Even if you’re all buffed out like me? I’ve been biking every day. You should see my arms. I am a stud.” I can tell that Dad is flexing for himself because his voice muffles for a moment as he tucks the phone between his shoulder and cheek in order to get a better gander at his guns.
“Wifebeaters are just silly. They’re like muscle shirts. Nobody wears ‘em except maybe Joey Buttafucco.. and, well... I don't think I have to say anymore.”
“Well how else are you supposed to show off your muscles?”
“You don’t. That’s tacky and obvious. So what about this after dinner incident?”
“Well. I might have got a little drunk and Dean was all saying how he’d been working out and shit, so I was kind of being funny and tore off my shirt to show him he isn’t all that.”
“Oh god.”
“Was that bad?”
“Were there women around?”
“Oh yeah. They were loving it!”
“Are you having a mid-life crisis Dad?”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“I want to talk more about this wifebeater. What’s so bad about it? I looked exactly like Dwight Yokam.”
“I rest my case.”
“Dwight is THE man.”
I sigh. I’m going to have to recuse myself from this conversation on the grounds that, thankfully, I’m not qualified to discuss Dwight Yokam.”
“Is your brother still selling marijuana out of your mom’s basement?”
“I don’t know, ask him.”
“Goddamn. I don’t know how those bastards got all mixed up in that shit.” The unmistakable FFFMMMP of a lighter flicking scratches down the line.
“You smoking a cigarette or pot, Dad?”
“Pot. I’m trying to cut down on cigarettes.”

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Reader Comments (6)

Is this really how your dad is? OMG he is hilarious! This one totally reminded me of a David Sedaris chapter. Have you read the one where his dad accidentally eats his hat? LOL. Oh I needed this tonight.
January 23, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAimee
Is he really like this??? Hell, he's 10 times worse! Flexin and posin. "Don't I look great for a guy my age?" Lord help us all.
January 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermama
He sounds like a funny guy. What a character!
January 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJAY
Yeah, actually monica's dad is a good ole soul. Funny great sense of humor. (whew, good save huh) Kidding! love ya CBB
January 25, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermama
holy shit this is the funniest thing i have ever read...because it sounds JUST like my family.
September 12, 2006 | Unregistered Commentersfh
September 13, 2006 | Registered CommenterMonica

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