In anticipation of the upcoming release of my novel, Call Me Daddy, I asked for stories about family: the fun, the inspirational, the heartwarming moments that make us part of a family. Confidence, Because F*ck You, is in classic Joelynn Drennan style (which is why I adore her):
Confidence, Because F*ck You
In my early teen years, the last thing I wanted was to be seen with my parents—especially on a weekend. That I actually enjoyed their company was irrelevant. In the event of running into peers while out with my parents, I’d have betrayed their existence faster than Judas betrayed Jesus. That is, until my father taught me a valuable, though unintentional, lesson in self-confidence.
One summer, on the way home from a long day spent at the beach, I begged my parents to stop for ice cream. “We always stop at Fox’s,” I said, citing the unofficial tradition. Despite their exhaustion, the heavy traffic, and its out-of-the-way location, my parents honored the request and drove over to Fox’s Ice Cream Parlor.
Once inside, my dad ordered his usual black-raspberry sherbet and my mom ordered her usual rocky road ice cream. I’d just decided on a double scoop of mint-chocolate chip when a group of boys about my age entered the shop and settled at a corner table. All of them had deep tans and sun-bleached hair and were dressed head-to-toe in Abercrombie & Fitch—the epitome of cool in 1997. Suddenly, I was uninterested in ice cream. In fact, ice cream was lame and my parents were assholes for dragging me in there. I moved away from the counter, attempting to look cool and aloof. Dad whistled in my direction.
“Hey, are you going to pick something or what?”
“Nope.” I shook my head and rolled my eyes.
“What? I thought you wanted—”
“I don’t want anything,” I said.
“We drove all the way over here and now you don’t WANT anything?”
Ignoring the irritation in my dad’s voice, I feigned interest in a framed newspaper article hanging on the wall near the table of boys. I smiled their way, but they were all caught up in conversation and didn’t seem to notice me. However, they had noticed the drops of purple sherbet caught in my father’s handlebar mustache. They had also noticed his straw hat, faded wolf t-shirt, and Bermuda shorts. Snide comments and snickering erupted from their table. I looked over at my father and then back towards the boys. My cheeks flamed. I approached my parents, demanded we leave that instant, and then I stormed out of the shop.
A few minutes later, my parents came outside and my father asked what the hell had just happened. “And don’t give me this ‘nothing’ bullshit,” he said. I couldn’t meet his eyes, but I choked back the knot the in my throat and told him the truth. I was ashamed.
I was ashamed of myself for casting both of my parents aside for the attention of some random boys I’d never see again—attention that I didn’t even get—and for standing silent while they made a joke of my father.
Completely unfazed, Dad described the absence of fucks he had to give about the opinions of a bunch of “snot-nosed little bastards.” Then he knocked on the window and pointed to his wolf t-shirt. He raised both middle fingers to the group of boys, laughed at their stunned expressions, and then walked away with a huge smile on his face. In that moment, I couldn’t have been more proud to be his daughter.
Joelyn Drennan is a die-hard yankee living in Memphis, Tennessee. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. Joelyn is a shameless conspiracy theorist who writes to make herself laugh (and also to quiet the voices in her head). These days she can be found at the nearest A/C vent, cursing the heat of southern summers.