My Father

My father was a P R U D E prude. He couldn’t say or hear, for example, chicken “breast,” it was always “chicken white meat.” We had a family outlier who was a Czech grandmother- She was called “Babicka” (buh-bitch-ka, meaning grandmother) by one and all. Except my dad. He called her “Babushka.”

My father’s prudery was something that dawned on me later. At the time my story takes place, I didn’t know what prudery was. I had just turned six and I had saved up my meager allowance to buy Dad a Christmas present.

I knew right where to go– to the candy store. They carried everything that was good in the world, so I went there and I deposited my monies ($3? $4) on the counter

and I announced to the man who sold us candy after school that I wanted to use my money to buy my father a very special Christmas present.

The man grinned– altogether too broadly, I realize now. He told me he had just the present. My father would love it, he proclaimed. Normally, it sold for more money than I had, but he would make an “exception” for me.

He took down a calendar and showed it to me quickly, then wrapped it up. But not before I’d had a chance to see what it was. “Are you sure my dad will like this?” I asked. “Absolutely,” he said. “Absolutely, he will like this.”

So I took the wrapped calendar home and on Christmas morning, flew to grab it from the pile of gifts, and presented it to my father.

“Here, dad,” I said. “You are going to love this. I got it for you with my own money.”

My dad unwrapped the present. I watched his eyes as he took in the cover. Then the picture of Miss January, Miss February, Miss March…

They were all so beautiful, those monthly women. They were all beautiful, and completely naked.

Dad made a funny kind of cough. There was a pause. Then, “Look, everybody,” he said. “Look at the beautiful calendar Lynnie got me.”

He put it up on the mantle that Christmas and the next day, he told me he’d decided to keep it downstairs in the basement, where he had his shop, on the specially big desk where he outlined projects.

And put it there he did, and there it sat for the rest of the year. I like to think maybe he did enjoy it.

And as I grew up, I realized that the Bible is right– Love casteth out sin. Or in my father’s case– Prudery.