Bonne fête des pères

Father’s Day tomorrow. Earlier in the week I was invited by a radio station in Columbus Ohio to talk about Father’s Day gifts and offer a few suggestions. Unfortunately they did not want me, but the other Maggie Gallant (the so-called publicist one of NYC). Tempted as I was to steal her gig and make some highly inappropriate gift suggestions on air, I decided to leave the prestige of Ohio commercial radio to her.

Plus what I do know about fathers? I haven’t been too successful with mine. One died in 1997 and the other is still unknown but presumed alive and living somewhere in France. Though in fairness, that one doesn’t really belong to me but to my alter ego Donna Shackleton, the birth-certificate me before I was adopted,

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Me and Ingrid, post London downpour and first bottle of wine.

Meeting up with my half sister Ingrid last month in London was one of the best things I’ve done in a long time.  But it’s also stirred up a lot of thoughts about her/our mother whom I first met up with 27 years ago (well apart from the very very first time we met but I don’t remember too much about that thank goodness). I know the correct term for this type of thing is reunion but that makes it sound a little fancier (and more successful) than it was.

Sadly there was little that she could/would tell me about my father. The best bit of information came from my night out with 16 year old Ingrid in 1986 when she told me that her/our mother had said I’m the spitting image of my father. That more than explains why in my 11 year old’s fantasy -and school essay- about him he picks me out in a crowd when I’m on a school trip to the Eiffel Tower. (This will be familiar to anyone that saw my solo show ‘Hot Dogs at the Eiffel Tower).  I was 11 when I first read, in secret , the report from the adoption agency.

Here’s the bit about him. father2The best part of course is that he’s French. Naturellement!. I was cast as the grandmère in an all-French production of Little Red Riding when I was 6. And smoking Gauloises at age 14. And see where it says ‘Intelligent and ambitious‘? Remind you of anyone? I still haven’t quite figured out what this line means ‘…and is normally a business executive’. Normally? When he’s not out impregnating 19 year old English girls at dances you mean?

I never really bought into the interests part. Reading and swimming? That’s the best my mother can remember about him? I’ve read this report hundreds of times and my father just doesn’t seem the swimming type. Would the adoption have fallen through if she’d told the agency what his real interests are? Reminds me of the Monty Python Summarize Proust sketch:

Host: And Harry, what are your interests outside summarizing?
Harry Bagot: Well, strangling animals, golf and masturbating.
Host: Well, thank you Harry Bagot
Voiceover: Well there he goes. Harry Bagot. He must have let himself down a bit on the hobbies, golf’s not very popular around here.

And does it ring less than true to anyone else that he wanted to marry her but she turned him down because she was pregnant? Yeah because that really makes sense as a life decision in 1965.

If he was 33 in 1964 then he must be around 83 now. I’m convinced that he’s still alive because I refuse to believe the alternative and I know we’ve still got at least another 20 years to find each other. And I also know for sure that he still wears St Laurent suits and wears cologne and smokes Gauloises and lives in a fabulous apartment in Paris on the Left Bank. And doesn’t swim. And I still miss him.

Happy Father’s Day mon père.

motherps. Here’s the bit in the report about my mother. Please note the mention of her as ‘superior’. Just in case you wondered where I got it from.