May 23, 2018
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Well, you see, Dad, it was like this …

By Emmet Meara, Special to the News

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I’m sorry.

In retrospect I cannot imagine why you did not beat me to death, on several occasions, for numerous reasons.

I believe the closest you came was when the letter from the Boston School Committee got by the censor (me) and it became common knowledge that I was spending precious little time in school. I was taking a self-taught movie course at the Stuart Theater, taught by one John Wayne. Then I was doing a sociological study of sailors and hookers at the Mardi Gras pinball emporium in the Combat Zone.

Much more interesting.

You were always freakishly strong and lifted me off the floor with your left hand and prepared to demolish my teenage face with your right.

Then you just dropped me on the floor. “It’s your life,” you said.

Thank you, ever so much.

Of course, there was so much before that with the suspicious fires all over the house, police visits and that stolen dump truck routine. That was a beaut.

And there was so much more to come, especially in your cars. You loved those big V8 Lincolns and Buicks. So did I.

If you stayed up late enough (I think it was midnight), they turned off the red lights on Route 1 from Dedham to Sharon and left them blinking. I always thought it was my personal Daytona.

I remember one morning started with your stern warning to “slow down that Lincoln.” I professed my usual innocence, to no avail. “You passed me last night,” you said, winning the brief argument.”

It seems that you and your pal were coming home from a golf session (at midnight?) when your car (Mass. plate 51162) with me at the wheel came roaring by his car.

“Isn’t that your car?” your pal asked.

Guilty, your honor.

I used to drive those big cars just as fast as they would go, so fast that I didn’t dare look down at the speedometer. There was the 90-mph night in Westwood when smoke started coming out of the radio, then the heater, then the whole dash. Never a good sign. I called you from a gas station to report that your new Buick had a crappy engine and would run no more.

Once again, you chose not to kill me.

In those days, I could stand neither the taste nor smell of beer, especially warm beer. (That changed over the years.) My friends felt differently on the issue. One of the very first times I took your car, we all went to the drive-in, of course. Someone went into the “packie” and got a six-pack or two.

The next morning you were driving us to the railroad station. When you came to the stop sign and hit the brake, a beer can rolled out from under the seat and hit you in the ankle. Once again I professed my innocence and you could not believe me. In a very rare occasion (possibly the last) I was innocent. I was a victim.

I was as “bone idle” then as I am now, and mowing that Sharon lawn seemed like a Herculean chore. After you asked me 45 times to mow the lawn, I decided to do it. I dutifully trekked to the garage, filled the little tank and, distracted by the girl next door, spilled a little on the motor.

I know you never believed me, but I was innocent when I pulled the starter and the whole motor went up in flames. I always heard that you didn’t put water on a gasoline fire, so I called the Sharon Fire Department for advice while the mower burned to a crisp. The tires turned to black puddles before I finally turned the hose on the conflagration.

But I did manage to push the burning pyre out of the garage before I burned your house down. Big deal, right? Again, I was a victim.

I believe it was the Twomey family that saved my life. I had uncles, cousins and even a few aunts that were worse than I was.

Thank you for not killing me. Happy Father’s Day up there. No one ever deserved heaven more.

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