Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Last Redneck in Miami

My father called me last night, excited as a little boy on Christmas, to tell me that he'd been driving on our property and found this and this. Apparently the sounds of his pick-up truck scared off their mom, who never came back (what a cold-hearted bitch!). They're looking for homes for the little guys, but I have a feeling they'll be keeping the gold one.

I showed these adorable puppies posing with my father to my coworkers. My senior editor said that my dad "looks like such a farmer" and I laughed, and explained that until just over a year ago, my dad lived in Miami. He's always had a love for pick-up trucks, John Deere, and country music, though. I called him The Last Redneck in Miami. Little did I know what I was starting.

"Wow!" he said. "What a great idea for a book title! That book would make MILLIONS! WE SHOULD WRITE IT!!"


"Yeah! Think of all the people who have been to Miami and not understood the whole Spanish thing! They'd love it! And then we should translate it into Spanish and call it 'El Ășltimo gringo en Miami'!!"

While [I think] we eventually decided to not write it, I couldn't help but think what my father's biography would be like. Would people stop reading out of offense after describing how my grandfather taught my Dad to stab his sunny-side up eggs with his fork during World War II, yelling "KILL A JAP! KILL A JAP!"? Or would they last all the way until Dad gave up trying to say Dan's last name, and just started calling him "Gonzalez" because, hey, at least its a spic name, right?

Would they be surprised that my emphatically mono-lingual dad knows more Spanish cuss words than his trilingual daughter?

Would they read with glee about Dad's first meeting with our lovely Korean Min, when he passed raw ribs under her nose as he took them to the grill and asked if they looked ok, because "it was the biggest cat he could find"? Or when he called my Japanese-hating Chinese friend and asked her to go with him to see "Pearl Harbor" to translate for him?

Would they overlook all his off-color jokes ("Hey! What do you get when you put 30 Iraqi women in a bomb shelter? A full set of teeth!"), his colorful language ("and THAT is when I told that nigger to drop the ham, or I'd shoot the bitch!") and his outward gruffness to see the other half of his personality he hides a bit more? How many people could envision him choking up on the phone and have to pass it to my mother because he was calling to say that my dog was very sick and wouldn't survive the night? How many people could imagine my father's deep voice going up an octave as he says "Hi Stephy!" to his two-year-old granddaughter on the phone?

I feel like sometimes people sell my dad short. He can be a difficult person to see all (or most) sides of. He's not just a funny guy, he's not just a gruff old man, and he's not an all-loving, tolerant father. He's a mix of that and more. As much as I'd like to, I don't think I could write the biography of The Last Redneck in Miami.

Besides, he'd totally kick my ass if he knew I called him a redneck.

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