The reason why I’m fearless

The ticket taker looked me up and down as I stood stretching my back and neck to be as tall as I could be. At four years old I was the runt of the litter. Always the smallest of my peers the same age as me as well as the smallest amongst my much older cousins. I didn’t consider it a curse.

Attempting to hand the man our tickets my father’s jovial expression and body language shifted. I caught the familiar smell of stale beer and cigarettes as he lifted me into his arms. I could feel his heart beating fiercely against the wall of his chest where he held me close as he stormed back down the wooden gangplank of the Mighty Mouse Roller Coaster.


Obviously, I was not yet tall enough to ride this ride.

Cussing under his breath as if I wasn’t there he deposited me at the feet of my mother who sat on a bench alone eating a corn dog. I watched as he started to stalk off, and then just as abruptly he returned to me and my mother, bent down to me and said, ‘I’m not mad at you. I love you two.’ And he held up two fingers. He told us to wait there – he would be right back.

As I crawled up on the bench Mom and I exchanged a knowing look between us. We knew that he was off to get another beer. Even at that young age- my heart skipped a beat when he said that; because all three of us knew ‘be right back’ could mean a few minutes, a few hours or a few days.

He disappeared into the crowd. After sharing a few bites of what was left of her corn dog she wrapped the wax paper around the stick and handed it to me- motioning for me to deposit it in the big metal trash can. I skipped to and from my destination.

As we waited on the bench for Daddy, I had an up-close opportunity to watch the people ride the roller coaster and felt my fear begin to rise in my throat. Which was followed by gratitude. We weren’t allowed to ride it because I was too small. At least that’s what the man had told my Dad. ‘Sorry sir- she’s too small. Maybe next year?’

I could hear the wooden planks creaking and the rush of metal against metal as the carts flew past us with the screaming people inside. I felt a bittersweet terror for a few seconds I had so wanted to ride that ride with my Daddy and I was just as relieved that we could not.

I should have known better. Because within minutes he returned with his liquid courage in hand. He took my hand and said, ‘Let’s ride girl.’

That would not be the last time in my life he would say to me.


We walked hand in hand back up the wooden planked ramp that turned a third of the way up and then turned again. Like before, I looked for my Mother seated on the bench across from the ride. She had a large Kodak camera around her neck and she was ready to snap our photo as we whirred past.

The same man was there to measure the riders and take our tickets, but before he could object my father stood up to him and told him, ‘Listen mister, we don’t mean you any trouble. But this is MY daughter. And I am responsible for her. I know the risks and I don’t want her growing up being afraid. She’s small, yes, but she is fierce. And she has waited all day to ride this ride with me. I’m her father. Please let us ride this ride.’

The man looked down at me and asked, ‘Young lady, is this true? You have waited all day just to ride this ride?’

‘Yes sir.’

He shook his head and waived us through.

We climbed into the car that was at the front of the string of cars. He put his arm around me and held me close to his side. I was just tall enough to see over the top of the car but not tall enough to see the tracks. All I saw was the big blue Texas sky melting into a day glow orange sunset.

My own heart pounded wildly in my chest and head. It was thrilling as it jerked and turned and jerked us again backwards to make the climb to the first of several hills. The wind rushed past my ears and pulled at my doggy eared pony tails on both sides of my head. I found myself in disbelief that I was finally on this ride! My Dad held me tight and screamed along with me in fun!

I was not scared.

The ride continued for a few minutes more and we found ourselves back at the beginning too soon for my liking. It was time to disembark. But I didn’t want to get off and asked my Dad if we could ride it again.

As people got off and back on- he stepped out of the metal car onto the platform and dug some bills out of his wallet- pressed them into the man’s hand and sat back down beside me with a huge grin on his face.

We were riding again.

Daddy and the Go-Go’s

Daddy 042610Daddy n his scooter<

The following is an account of text messages over a few years between my dear departed Daddy and myself. True to my alter Trailer Park self, I am a packrat and don’t throw away ANYTHING! Including text messages that might someday be useful. Below, please find a loving tribute to my father and his Amazing imagination and sense of humor.

Daddy-Have you met my new Go-Go’s?
Daddy- Their names are Ebony and Caldonia? They are African Americans.
Me- Daddy, we’re all Americans. That term is no longer P.C. Ok, they’re black. Shock factor over. Where did ya’ll meet?
Daddy-Are you kidding me?
Me- Why would I kid about something like that?
Daddy-Because you’re a kid! So, we met at the meeting place. (Which was Daddy, for drop it.)
Me- Ok. Fine. Daddy.

A few days later, now I get that he has an agenda….

Daddy- I have two new Go-Go’s.
Me- Alert the media.
Daddy – Their names are Okey and Dokey. They are from Mexico. They are Mexican Nationals. I picked them up at high tide. Surf's Up. Gotta go!

Even later still, while he was on a self-induced time out ride to New Mexico…

Daddy- Hey Kid! Got a couple more Go-Go’s!
Me- Ok, now what? Where are you anyway?
Daddy- I’m in Taos, just left the reservation. Picked up Nava-ho and Arapa-ho!
Me-Bahahahahaha…I’m telling Mam-maw.
Daddy- You’d better not! I’ve got stuff on you too, and I know where you live.
Me- Be careful out there….all those “ho’s” might roll you for you wallet.

And then, just a week later…

Daddy- Got me two more!
Me- Uh-huh.
Daddy-Was over at the Chen-Chen Mandarin Buffet and Chinese Laundry when two girls, Yin and Yang, walked up to me and asked if they could be my Go-Go’s!
Me-Turn up your hearing aide, Garry, What they really said was, “Do you want us to call the Po-Po?!” You crazy old biker.
Daddy-No, really. They’ve heard about my reputation.
Me-Everyone has heard about your reputation, Daddy. That’s why you’re still single. That many women can’t possibly be wrong.
Daddy-That was hurtful, and unnecessary. But true. Touche’.
Me-Well, don’t expect me to call ANY of them Mama!

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any crazier…

Daddy – Well, now the circle is complete. I’ve got me a couple more.
Me- If you mean a couple more Go-Go’s, I’m gonna say, “NO!” cause your trailer park has set a limit to the number of Go-Go’s you can have on the premises. Didn’t you read the Home Owner’s Agreement?
Daddy- Not a problem. I’ve just opened up the International House of Go-Go’s for Wayward Go-Go’s, Ho-Ho’s and Ding-Dongs.
Me- Great! At least I know you’ll be in good company during your retirement years. Who you gonna get to fund this “adventure?”
Daddy-Well old Biker’s like me! You know you can always pass the hat at a rally and collect enough to save any lost soul. We’re always good to give to the Underdog.
Me- True dat. So What’s their names?
Daddy-A couple of Southern Belles this time, Trixie and Dixie. The South’s gonna rise again!
Me-Yeah, well, Not unless it’s the ‘second coming’…you get my drift?!

And finally…Let the games continue…

Daddy-You know it’s almost football season, right?
Me-Is the Pope Catholic, Daddy? And you call yourself my father. Who ARE you? You know I live and breathe high-school, college and professional football all weekend long.
Daddy-I was just over at Central Market…the place looks like someone threw up purple pepto-bismol.
Me-Do tell.
Daddy-Found me a couple of Sorority cuties, named Coco and Chanel. TCU hotties. They are in law school and wanna change the world, but right now they dance to pay the tuition bills.
Me-Dad! T.C.U. doesn’t have a law program, it’s a liberal arts college. Don’t you think they’re a little “young” for your entourage anyway? And T.C.U.? Really, Daddy? Are you trying to Kill me?
Daddy-Oh don’t worry about it…I’m headed down to Austin next. Gonna get a couple of Longhorn gals and then on to College Station for some Aggies! A separate group of Go-Go’s just in time for Friday Night Lights.
Me- You are out of control. I’m calling the 90-year-old!

R.I.P. Daddy. We miss you! <3<3<3+

Your favorite child (and very best friend in the whole wide world),