Throwback Thursday: A Vending Machine Sticker & Daddy Issues

September 5, 1998

Dear Genna, 

Today It rained. When John and Devon went out for patrol they came back socking wet, I was laughing inside cause if he saw me he would have killed me. Like yesterday he spelled dog wrong – Dog! He chased me into the girls’ bathroom. During recsess Ashley A, Malee, Katy, and me played scrabble. for my frist turn I put down Leo. On my fifth I meant to have oars but I put down Leoa! I was so embarrassed. 

When Dad, Corey, Ryan and I went to Piggly Wiggle I think dad was mad Because he looked at Ryan like, “You stop or I’ll spank you!” Well when we were waiting for Dad in the checkout, Me and Corey went to look at the stickers. This teenager came (he was cute) to get a sticker his money was jammed and he said, “If I don’t get a sticker I’m gonna bust this thing!” So he got another It was a stupid one so he gave it to me!

Guess what? I’m getting a lovin’ Leo book! I think he is hot. I have tons of posters of him. Then in an article in Teen machine It was: DiCapro vs. Damon. I wonder who’d win? Dicapro. Duh! 

This is the sticker –>Sticker

I know it looks like a fat lady but hey a cute guy gave it to me. Me!

Without reading this entry, I remember this event – getting the sticker from the strange teenage boy. I don’t remember my dad being upset at Ryan or what he was upset about, but I do remember those stern looks he would give us when we were misbehaving while grocery shopping. This was back when my mom worked as a cashier at Piggly Wiggly in the evenings. Sometimes my dad would take us to the store to visit her.

I’ve always been a pragmatic person. Though I’ve always been a daydreamer, I’ml aware of reality’s constraints. While walking through the grocery store, I used to imagine that some boy would find himself so enchanted by me that he would be compelled to tell me I was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. I knew this would never happen – I knew that I was too young for anyone to look at me like that, and even if a boy did notice me, the presence of my father would thwart any move he might think to make. So when this older cooler boy engaged me – I was excited but wary. Eventually my dad would walking through the automatic doors, pushing a cart full of groceries and it would be revealed that I was just a child, dependent upon her dad for transportation.

But while my dad was still at the checkout, I was able to indulge my daydream. I’d tell myself that certain things were signs. If he doesn’t get this next sticker, it means he likes me. If he looks at me, it means my shirt is cool. If he gives the sticker to me, it means he’s going to look for me again. While I knew it didn’t really mean anything when he gave me this sticker (it was a stupid one after all), I made it seem like it was.  I went home and wrote in my diary, because I thought that just maybe this was the start of something significant.

In the books I read – historical fiction, mostly – boys were always timidly approaching girls and making them feel special by little trinkets. Reality was a constant disappointment for me. I know that my diary makes me sound like I had no concept of reality, but it’s really the opposite. I just always wanted my life to sound better and more impressive than what it really was. My life was boring. I was ordinary. I wanted to be extraordinary. I wanted to stand out for something other than being the girl who wore handmade dresses and played pretend at recess after most of her peers stopped.

This entry is indicative of my early interactions with men – feeling like it was acceptable to receive their leftovers throw-aways. I was so desperate for any bit of attention from a boy that I was willing to accept anything they gave me. After writing mostly about Scott and my father in a personal narrative class, my professor asked if I thought there was a reason I dated a whole slew of  assholes despite such a heroic father. I was quick to point out that I didn’t date a slew of assholes, just one for a significant amount of time.

I never truly answered her question, so the question still remains: Assuming a girl’s father is her strongest male figure – the one who illustrates how she should be treated – why did I accept so little from my early boyfriends? From all my boyfriends, for that matter. Even after my most significant relationship ended a little less than a year ago, I still felt like I was just a little bit used – like I had served my purpose for a chunk of time and the time had come for him to move on.

My father has always been there for me – if I’m stranded on the side of the road, if I’m crying about money or about a guy he hugs me, if I need a meal he feeds me, if I’m shivering he’ll give me his coat. It’s not that boyfriends didn’t or wouldn’t do these things for me. Maybe it’s just that I’ve never really given them the chance. Maybe I’ve never allowed room for them to actually impress me since my father is such a significant part of my life. Maybe I’ll always be disappointed by men who are not my father. Damnit, dad. Why are you such a good dad?

Good luck trying to date me, future beaus.

I had no intention of making this post so inquisitive. I thought I’d point out 10-year old Ashley’s excellent grasp of punctuation in dialogue but her apparent disregard for commas elsewhere. I was clearly horrified by my peers’ shortcomings while being oblivious to my own (but come on – I still have trouble spelling recess sometimes) Also, I was obsessed with Leonardo Dicaprio, but I couldn’t be bothered to learn how to actually spell his name.