He used to freak me out, back when I had an answering machine, and leave these voicemails that sent a ping of terror careening throughout my body.
“This is your father. Call me back when you get this.”
Dammit. What the hell had I done? I didn’t even know. By the time I had listened to the message all I had done that day was eat a bagel and forget to brush my teeth. It was college, so.
He couldn’t have known I skipped class the day before.
I’d look at my besty/roommate Kelly and she’d shrug. She didn’t know what I had done, either. We were basically attached at the hip, so if I was in trouble, she probably was, too. Like, she probably did whatever mystery bad thing I had done but already forgotten, too.
There would be silence as I called him back. Silence and a little sweat.
“Just wanted to let you know I sent you some mail that came to our mailbox…”
That was it. Or something equally as inconsequential. Every time.
And then I’d exhale. And tell him that the way he talked in the voicemail made me think I was in for it. But I really never was. Because the worst thing we ever did at school was make off with a party-size of Doritos after the cafeteria closed.
And then I’d wait for the next message. I think he knew, and made it his calling card. And because of that, it’s one of the loudest memories I have of our relationship – beyond watching and talking sports together and surviving that first game of Cards Against Humanity with him.
I really thought I’d die. Because I’ve never laughed so hard, at the hands he would play, the way he’d own a winning card with a one-finger signal and the new laugh my mom made that I’d never heard in my 40 years of life.
Lately, I’ve been the one leaving the voice mails. Asking for advice or help for something related to the insanity tornado that spins on the periphery of my life. He’s always got a thought, after I leave him a message.