"This is not New York," Dale tells me in his van. On its side is a sign that reads, "Daddy’s Little Girl Flooring." It’s alarming how many calls he gets out of this. He used to work with another guy, Greg, in Manhattan, but he died so I came to work with him. Now, if we’re refinishing, there’s usually a woman at the door who will say by way of greeting, "You must be Daddy’s Little Girl." I imagine people wondered who the little girl was when it was just my father and Greg.
"I know this isn’t New York," I say. "It’s been ages." I am fond of outdated expressions that make me feel madcap and carefree. He doesn’t mean we left New York a half-hour ago, and are well into the heart of New Jersey or Connecticut. He means, we left New York for good. We did, four years ago. After a year of doing floors together in New York, we moved the business to Fort Collins, Colorado. What Dale refers to is the traffic outside Denver, where we're headed. We’re idling on I-25. Unlike some people who would’ve said, "What’s the holdup, this isn’t New York," or if they’re really pissed, "What the hell, this isn’t fucking New York," my father states the obvious as if he’s unsure of it’s veracity.
My dad loves P.J. Harvey as much as he loves Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles. He admits it is odd, given the fact that most parents find her music to be just a lot of noise, but something about her speaks to him. He heard my boyfriend Larry playing her album To Bring You My Love when he came to pick me up for work, and asked if he could borrow it. Larry tried to convince him to take her first album instead but Dale would have none of it. This was a cardinal sin. Larry believes in listening to music chronologically, from the first album to the last, always. I have questioned him on this extensively. What if the first album sucks, and your favorite is the most recent? Or you hear a song on the radio, and go to buy the CD, only to find the song your looking for is on the second, or third, or fourth? What then? According to Larry, you’re screwed. You have to start from the beginning, every time. In fact, the whole notion of "favorite" is blasphemous. There’s a larger picture to see. He doesn’t listen to the radio, for this reason. Larry goes nuts when he comes across a Greatest Hits collection. Concerts are out of the question, since they're a Greatest Hits collection with amped up applause and bad feedback. Hence, his absence at tonight’s show.
"You need to dump that dumbass," Dale tells me. "He’s probably getting fries with that shake, if you know what I’m talking about." Not even P.J. Harvey can make my father hip, I’m sad to say.
But we all have our music quirks. I tolerate album covers that feature the band by a warehouse far, far away because I have to. As for solo artists, I’ve noticed that most women artists I like are often on the ground, playing dead, but done up glamorously, they might as well be on a satin ottoman. The only difference is a smudge of blood and bruise around the lip and eye. My father has nothing but contempt for music videos, especially ones that feature an artist tied to a chair with a bunch of "thugs" around him, who ends up in a psychiatric ward, unshaven, in a dirty robe.
My father has never liked Larry because he wears shorts all year long, and has one of those jobs that are hard to grasp for people who don’t do what he does. After careful scrutiny, followed by an afternoon of light stalking, I’ve only been able to come up with this: he works in a laboratory. Larry does smell antiseptic, with a trace of Sweet n’ Low. The first time we had sex, I thought he had a cold, and was overdosing on throat lozenges.
It was a sad smell, and as we were having sex, I vowed to stop seeing him.
I changed my mind midway through it when Foreigner’s "Feels Like the First Time," came on the radio. It did too, and not only because we were in my Honda in a parking lot. The truth is that I hadn’t had sex in a year, and this occasion didn’t make up for lost time. You would think the coincidence would have solidified my decision to break up with Larry, but a catchy tune that