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Friday, June 14, 2013

For Father’s Day … a Kidhood Memory

I’d heard so many stories of my father... the elegant jazz vagabond, the fine pomaded dandy who dressed to the nines, and who had people lined up to see him play in every city, every town and every state.

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He held court like royalty. He was far too important and much too busy, so he didn’t always attend to the needs of those tedious subjects who comprised his family.

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Back then, I was just a kid. Between him and my mother, I didn’t know of their marital politics, and I couldn’t decipher the strange, algebraic equation that formed my parents’ private life. And so, in those first five years, I’d had no real or touchable memory of a life with my father, at least, not in the physical sense. And then there came that moment, when a boy sees, digests, and processes it all, and it’s then that he falls in love with his father.

I was six. I vividly remember it. He was stepping off the train from Cleveland, carrying a small brown reptilian suitcase and a larger, more elongated one that held his prized trumpet. He appeared to be very big to my small eyes. He was statuesque and more handsome than all those shiny-men emoting from our small, black and white TV set. This was my daddy, my Pops, damn it—looking like no one else I’d ever seen! It was as if he were from another planet, man… a planet called Cool.

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You could hear the music in him when he walked. A sound like a snare drum’s beat with its own unique syncopation seemed to reside inside of him. It lived in the carefree sway of his shoulders and resounded in the bop of his stride. I remember thinking, this is what I come from... this is what I could be! He was an outstanding example of a man. He was... magnificent!

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It was more than the stylish cut and taper of his blue, double-breasted, pinstriped suit. It was more than that mysterious fedora which shaded his face in a way that was dramatic and subdued; and it was more than those fancy spectator shoes he wore, which made that lively tapping noise.

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There was a certain quality, a magical sheen to his rich copper skin, and it seemed a corona glowed all around him. He moved in the slowest motion towards us. Everyone else around him was rushing swiftly to those places strangers go, and yet, he was gliding. I’d never seen a colored man glide before.

Yes, I was falling in love with my father; falling in love with a flowing vision kissed by a corona of light. He appeared to represent some extension of myself. And thus my love affair began with a revelation in a natty-blue suit.

His love for me was always an enigma, shaded under a sly fedora.

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From Like Litter In The Wind By L.M. Ross

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