Presence: A Memoir

The first time that I was in third grade (because I was in third grade twice;  TANGENT:  my mother taught me to read and write at home and I could do both when I was three, so when I went to school I was in kindergarten only one semester and then went to first grade, putting me a whole year ahead of the rest of the class.  My mother then became concern that I didn’t had easy connections with my peers -read, I was as anti-social as I am now- and took me out of school for a semester so I could begin studying in a new school with kids my age.  This might have been a brilliant move, or a huge mistake.  I still can not tell.)  one of the assignments one day was to write a brief essay on what you wanted to be when you grew up.

I was very exited to write about this.  I even asked my grandfather to let me type my essay in his typewriter (a beautiful Smith Corona circa ’69) to make it more professional:  I wanted to be a secretary.  I liked paper, envelopes, filing, typewriting, pens and of course stickers (secretaries make use of a lot of stickers.  Or so I thought) so, my dream was to work at an office.  I wanted to use tape every day and have pretty nails painted in bright colors.  I also wanted to be a veterinarian and a scientist, but only in the afternoons or something.

After I finished my draft of a resume assigment, citing how awesome I would be as a secretary because I had the natural talent of stapling papers, I showed the paper to my mother.  She was very happy and proud of my wording so, she showed it to my father right in front of me.  He didn’t read the essay because he hates to read, instead he asked me what was it that I wanted to be when I grew up.  I smiled real big and posed for effect “A SECRETARY!”  If you heard a scoff in 1987, it was my father when he heard my answer.

“Listen to her!  A secretary?!  What sort of crap is that?”  My mother gave him one of her looks, the one that said you better shut your mouth up right now.  He said this was the moment to tell me I didn’t want to be a secretary.  I wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer or something like that, something respectable with a good pay.

“Do you know the wage of a secretary?”  Um, no, but I’m sure at seven years old not many people bother to learn what a wage is.  “A secretary earns a misery.  You want to be something that gives you a lot of money so you can buy a lot of the things you want.”

I’m pretty sure that moment ruined my life.  The beginning of all my problems can be traced to that single exchange with my progenitor.

Fast forward a few decades when I was already working in the pharmaceutical industry (at the very place I once dreamed of working, it was nothing big, but something attracted me of the place) and my father kept telling me I had to go take a course to be a Dentist Assistant.  One of his cousins had an office and I could work there.  Or I could go finish a certification on Data Entry, he could find me clients among his friends so I could work from home.  Actually, he would set up a pizza place and I could administer it, paying him a wage every month.

In other words:  I should have been doing anything but what I was doing.  I was working a job that taught me A LOT, with a good schedule and a good pay, with people that were like family and that was simply not good enough for him.  He let me know this at any opportunity.

The other day we were eating at my grandmother’s place, much of my immediate family together for the first time in a while, and we began discussing profesional lives.  Manfriend began listing the things he knows I’ve done –work for security in a marathon, rotate shifts, train people, work in a service centre- with me mentioning some others;  his point being that I’m known to be a hard worker, I’ve done a bit of everything I’ve had to when I’ve needed to earn my bread.

And then my father perked up and mentioned that I also had that Dentist Assistant Certificate.  Which one?  The one that doesn’t exist because I never studied that.  I could never deal with anyone’s mouth (no offence to anyone that does,  on the contrary, thanks for cleaning our teeth!).  But he had made that up in his mind, no doubt to compensate for my lack of good professional decisions, and it was so intricately elaborated in there that it became a truth.

Much like the presence he has had in my life since sometime around third grade.

 

This post was shared in this week’s writing challenge: Memoir Madness, featuring some AMAZING posts.

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