Monday, October 12, 2015

Leave the Rules Where God Flung 'Em

by Charlotte Graham

     My friend Rafif speaks five languages – a talent that snarls and snaps if I come close. Rosetta flings stones when I hablo espanol. Fish babel when I sprechen Deutsch. And there is definitely une liaison dangereuse between brain and tongue when I ask directions in Paris.
     Apparently, I'm meant to be monogamous with English. A passion introduced to me by my father. Each night, when Daddy returned home from his job shuffling papers, he'd sit in his rocker reading a book or doing a bit of writing himself. There was always a yellow tablet and stubby #2 pencil on his TV tray. Daddy loved words, whether they were his or those chosen by someone else.
     A love of the English language isn't all I inherited from Daddy. He taught me rules are meant to be ignored or flung in a bin. At least the silly ones meant to beat you down when you're growing up.
     I learned this every Saturday when Daddy and I worked on the family car. From the time my hands were big enough to pick up a wrench, I was his mechanic's assistant. It never occurred to Daddy his daughter couldn't...and shouldn't...do anything a boy could.
     Daddy teaching me to fix cars doesn't mean he thought I was the short straw. That he wanted a son rather than a daughter. Daddy wanted a daughter and thought I hung the moon. I had dolls and dresses and dance lessons. But I also had model race cars, airplanes, and a football to go with my little-girl makeup and cowgirl outfit.


     To Daddy, I was sugar and spice sauced with piss and vinegar. He didn't tell me to lean in. He told me to stand tall…and never live by anyone else's rules. (300 words) 

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