Monday, April 9, 2012

Dennis, Pt 1

It was during one of the baddest rain storms in several years when the doorbell went off. I was tucked away in my room, just chillin, when there was a knock and Mom yelling through the door, "Gino! Dennis is here."
What the fuck...?

The folks liked Dennis. He was always respectful, polite, and viewed them with measurable admiration, as he did all parents... Dad loved 'car talk' with him. Dennis, a car nerd, knew a lot for a kid his age, and was always willing to listen to something new and expressed amazement easily.

Waiting for me in the living room, I see Dennis' travel from curb to door had drenched him through and through.
Dude, what's up?
"Had an idea, let's go..."
He had that grin of a cat who just learned the presence of a canary.
Turning to my folks, he uttered something about a movie.

I got shoe'd, grabbed a jacket and followed Dennis out the door into the downpour. Dad was yelling something about "Careful" and "Don't be stupid".
Darkness had set in, yet it was still early in the evening.

Dennis threw me his keys "You're driving! HA!HA!"
Fuuuuck You. It's raining.

It was April of 1980. I had just turned 16 years old. Dennis had me in the age department by about three months, but his Dad had been teaching him how to drive since he was 13. He got his license, and a car (nothing fancy, a 10yr old Toyota), on his 16th birthday.

My folks weren't near as cool as Dennis' dad:
On my 16th, I was allowed to test for my learner's permit, but not allowed to get a license until I had the cash to pay for my own insurance.
Needless to say, no job yet at barely 16 meant that I wouldn't be getting my license anytime soon.

Unbeknownst to my folks: I had been driving since Dennis got his permit. At 15 1/2, California issues "Learner's Permits", allowing the permit holder to operate a vehicle provided he is accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Dennis' dad made a pact with him: he can drive alone to run errands/short trips around town, but if he got cited, he would not receive his license until after his 18th birthday.
Unbeknownst to Dennis' dad: Dennis was picking me up and giving me the wheel, teaching me how to drive.

Yeah, we were sneaky bastards.
Dennis loved pulling one over on The Man. Even if 'The Man' in this case was the single most revered and respected man in his life.
I cannot understate this: his dad truly was the most revered and respected man in his life. A man of Superhero proportions.

To me, Mr. Flores was just another Dad who was cooler than most other dads.
And I need to add... Mr. Flores was also less-cool than most dads in some respects. He was on occasion raw, blunt and vulgar toward them where I didn't see other friend's dads being.

From the outside: Mr. Flores was a man with a smile that lit up a city block who loved his kids with an overt (if less-than-cuddly) passion.
He had a tough act, raising three kids by himself while holding down two full time jobs.
Yeah, that's right. No time for bullshit.
Yet, his kids always referred to him in the second-person by his first name.
I had never seen this before.
He was "Dad" to them, "Armando" when spoken of.
I was like: WTF?
It seemed disrespectful to me at first.
But when you see Father's Day plans being made weeks in advance by three kids as if it was beyond Christmas or something... a joyful event... it was clear that there was a lot more going on among them than met the eye.
"Armando" was a god. He was revered and feared and loved.
He earned every bit of it.

By extension... I modeled a few of my fatherhood techniques from lessons learned while spending countless hours and nights at the Flores home.

(First in a series of what needs to be said...)


Mr. D said...

This sounds like it's gonna be good.

Gino said...

i hope so.

Palm boy said...

This is already good. I'm intrigued.