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5 Things My Father Gave Me
By Luna Lark
Apparently a recent issue of Elle Magazine called upon readers to name something their grandmother had given them and describe how that magical thing had changed their life. We can probably all imagine how many young ladies will write about a locket, a pin, or silk scarf from Nana. These are nice things, no doubt, but they're also predictable things. So I wanted to write about something perhaps a little less predictable: five things my father has given me.
No, I won't write about how my father gave me his hair or his wit. I'm going to go the superficial route and talk about material objects Daddy's given me. Because my father traveled a lot during my childhood, he'd often bring my sisters and me small gifts he'd acquired during his journeys.
I'm also going to be a loaf and not explain how these things have changed my life. I'd like to think that my life has changed because of people and experiences, not merchandise—even if I do love the clothes, books, original art, jewelry and other fantastic presents friends and family have kindly given me since my babyhood.
Here, I'm simply indulging nostalgia. Don't say I didn't warn you. Cue Madonna's “Material Girl.”
And now for those five things Daddy's give me:
1. A Sondra Roberts purse—Sometime in the late 1990's, people pined for something that had been all the rage a decade earlier: jelly sandals. Growing up, I had my fair share of jellies and would hop on the jelly train today if only they were easier to find at a less-than-ridiculous price. In those days, you could find all sorts of jelly fashion accessories. My father, aware of my jelly fanaticism, bought me my first designer handbag when I was in middle school. It was a jelly-inspired, neon yellow satchel with a plain silver clasp. It's very Mod. My guess is that it is a Sondra Roberts fake that my father bought off a Manhattan street vendor. But I'm no expert on Sondra Roberts purses circa 1999. Regardless of its origins, I still carry this purse today, especially when I want to brighten up an outfit. In fact, just today I lovingly rubbed out a couple pen marks from its exterior with nail polish remover. I'll keep this baby for as long as it lasts.
2. A plush husky—When I was in second grade, my father spent nine days with an Inuit community in the Arctic Circle. It was the longest he had been away from home since I was born, and let's just say my little sisters and I were none too pleased. Yet the stories he told and the plush huskies that he brought upon his return (almost) made up for it. The toy was standard, mid-quality plush fare, only distinguished by its tiny eyes and a feathery tail prone to shedding. The following summer, Daddy surprised us with a family vacation to Alaska. I still have that husky, as well as plenty of memories of Denali, Anchorage, Trapper Creek, and Homer. Sometimes I still think about this one fur-trapper house we rented for a weekend. To this day, I swear it was haunted.
3. A collection of illustrated biome books—As a little girl, I loved drawing pictures from books. One Christmas, my father bought my sisters and me a collection of illustrated ecology books for children. Each one focused on a different biome, introducing its climate, flora, and fauna. My favorite one was about the deep sea because of all the mysterious creatures it showed. I especially enjoyed drawing this one ghostly looking octopus. Surprisingly, I never named the octopus, though I drew him in various incarnations of the same deep sea reef. My mother still has these biome books. One day I'd like to give them to my children so they can draw nameless and obscure animals to the point of disturbing obsession.
4. Florida snow globe—Every once in a while, you could tell my father was rushed at the airport or hotel gift shop, but still wanted to bring home a souvenir for his daughters. Once he bought us snow globes from Florida, each one containing three flamingos lined up in a row, all wearing sunglasses. The novelty wore off pretty quickly, so I was shocked by how upset I was when I accidentally broke the darn thing. I may have even cried. Perhaps it was because I couldn't reclaim those days when my father was away, and now my consolation prize was shattered, too.
5. A baseball cap with a comedienne whose name I can't remember—Here's a stumper. One of my sisters and I both recall these red baseball caps our father brought home one day. We know that each one depicted a brunette popping out of a door and waving. We also know that this image was supposed to be the caricature of a famous comedienne. What we don't know is who on earth this comedienne was. We no longer have the baseball caps. We haven't bothered asking our father about the matter, either, because we're confident he won't remember. I'm putting my money on Carol Burnette, but I wouldn't be amazed if that were a dumb gamble. This mystery will likely remain unsolved forever and ever.