For the majority of my life, I've hated my father. Hated that he cheated. Hated all of the yelling he caused. Hated that he divorced her, my beautifully frail mother of three.
After he'd left, he'd tried to keep in touch with us, but I'd refused to answer his phone calls and open his birthday cards. When he'd came to the house, I'd grunt hello while looking at his shoes instead of his eyes.
But now, now that I was in my first serious relationship, I'd called him up and asked him to meet me at our local diner. I loved my boyfriend, but monogamy scared the hell out of me. I needed to know that I wouldn't make my father's mistakes.
When my father showed up, I looked him in the eyes for the first time in over ten years. They were light blue, the color of innocence. The same color as mine.
After we were seated, I didn't ask him how he was doing. Didn't ask if he was dating anyone new or if he still had his job at the construction company. I just asked, "Did you cheat before you married her or wait until you vowed to stay with her forever?"
His brows lifted, probably surprised that I'd called him up just to make him feel like crap. But that wasn't what I was doing. At least, that wasn't my primary goal.
"The first time was about two years into the marriage," he said. "But that was only once, after a fight. And then fifteen years later I started doing it again, more frequently. Every weekend. Then came the divorce and my daughter's hatred."
I didn't expect him to be so honest. Thought he'd skate around the truth. But I was an adult now. We both were.
"And did you feel bad about it?" I asked.
"Not really. Well, not at first. Not until after he found out." He paused, but only for a second. "You can ask me all the questions you want, Katie, but tell me why you're asking them first."
I bit my lip, trying to think of a lie. But then again, telling him the truth would be like talking to an inanimate object. He didn't know any of my friends or my boyfriend, so he couldn't tattle on me. I doubted he'd even care about what I had to say. So I told the truth.
I said, "I've never been in a real relationship, but I am now. And I'm worried I'll be like you."
That must've stung a bit, because he pursed his lips and tilted his head toward the table. "And you're quizzing me to see how different we are? To make sure you won't screw over the love of your life?" Instead of waiting for an answer, he chuckled. "You know, most people worry about getting cheated on, not if they'll be the one cheating."
I placed my palms on the table as if I was about to leave.
"Hold on," he said. "I'm the last person to give love advice, but let me tell you this. It doesn't matter if you were raised by a cheater or not. I wasn't. My parents have been married over fifty years and I know for a fact they've never strayed."
"Is it? Listen, Katie. You don't magically become your parents. You're your own person. And you might want to cheat one day, but if you end up doing it, don't blame me. It's human nature to want to cheat on--"
"Don't tell me that," I said.
"I'm going to tell you that, because it's true. But we're not animals. We don't have to give into urges. If you love this guy, and you respect this guy, and want to keep this guy, you won't cheat on him. I wouldn't worry about it."
He rose from the table. "Cheating doesn't make you feel any better, by the way. There's no sense in it. Looking back, I don't get why I did it. Attention, maybe. Stupid."
I looked at him as he slipped into the coat he'd just slipped out of. "Where are you going?" I asked.
"You wanted answers. I gave them to you. My work is done, right?" He tried to sound bitter, but he only sounded sad.
"Sit down, dad," I said, and had my first meal with him in ten years.
** That's the whole story! Thanks for reading! **