Serialization: Why My Dad Hates Ice Cream (3)

Chapter Three
The next morning ©©© Friday ©©© my alarm went off and I was
out of bed half an hour sooner than usual.  I slipped downstairs as
quietly as I could and out the front door.  The rain had stopped
sometime during the night and the temperature had dropped, so that
a bitter wind waited to wish me good morning.  I gritted my teeth
and darted down the steps and onto the black macadam driveway, only
to discover, too late to spare my bedroom slippers from the puddles
that hadn’t quite iced over, that the newspaper wasn’t there
waiting for me.
I looked at the front lawn and down the drive into the street,
my eyes squinting against the knifing winter wind.  My old
terrycloth robe flapped above and below its cloth belt.  There was
no Inquirer to be seen on our property, though I noted that both
our neighbors had received theirs.  For a furtive instant I thought
to tiptoe over to one or another of their drives and ‘borrow’ a
paper.  But, thinking quickly that I might be spotted (or at the
very least, suspected), I turned and hustled back into our house.
I closed the heavy oak door behind me and then heard the soft
shuffling of feet coming from the kitchen.  My own feet squished a
little as I padded out there myself, rounding the corner into the
doorway in time to see Archie’s back disappear onto the enclosed
back porch Mom called our ‘sun room.’
I walked across the kitchen, passed the round oak table where
we McAdoos ate most of our meals together, and stepped ‘     Ä%
0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘åquietly down the single step into the sun room.  Pop sat at the
little cast iron and glass coffee table a few feet away with the
morning paper spread out in front of him.  He sipped steaming
coffee from his big white mug with the cavalry charge motto as he
gazed intently at the right hand page of the paper lying in front
of him.  He had a sort of contented smile on his face, his lips
moved ever so slightly as he read, and he never even noticed me
enter the room.
Tiptoeing around behind the rattan sofa where Pop was sitting,
I bent over and read from over his right shoulder.  The article was
at the top of page B1, which made it the lead article in the
Inquirer’s business section.  The headline, which covered the two
columns on the right hand side of the page, read “Former Night
Manager Sues Popular Bucks County Restaurant for AIDS
Discrimination.”  The byline said “Jane Putnam, Inquirer Staff
Reporter.”
The piece explained how Dennis Lustig of New Hope, who had
been first a cook for two years, then night manager of Freeman’s
Farm Dairy Bar and Restaurant for another three and a half, claimed
that he had been fired in early December, after he reported to the
owners  of the restaurant that his three©day absence was HIV
related. The article went on to quote “Philadelphia attorney
Archibald McAdoo” to the effect that, “This isn’t exactly a
lawsuit.  The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, under which we are
initiating this charge of discrimination, requires that Mr. Lustig‘     Ä%
0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
first put his case before the state’s human relations commission
for investigation.
“However, unless the agency acts promptly to remedy this clear
injustice, Mr. Berger and I intend to request a ‘right to sue’
letter and take our client’s case into the Bucks County Court of
Common Pleas by late summer.”
The story pointed out that “Attorneys Berger and McAdoo have
agreed to represent Lustig for free at the request of the AIDS Law
Project of Philadelphia, which organization will provide co©counsel
for the case.  The project’s executive director, Marsha Milhouse,
added, ‘This is a test case… a case of first impression for the
PHRC and ultimately, as we expect, for the courts.  Therefore, we
are girding ourselves for a long fight.  In the end, we expect to
win and to make important new law in the process.”
“A long fight”, I thought.  “Just what Mom wants to hear.”
I must have mumbled the thought out loud, because Archie
jumped a little and turned around so swiftly that he spilled coffee
onto the newspaper, spattering the bottom half of his precious
claim to immortality.
“Ned, what the devil are you doing there?” he squawked at me
in the near©falsetto his voice rose to when he was excited or
upset.
“Sorry, Pop,” I quickly replied. “I just didn’t want to
disturb you.”  I shuffled to my left and out from behind the couch.
Archie turned back to his newspaper to find the litle puddles of‘     Ä%          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
spilled coffee spreading like microorganisms in the porous
newsprint.
“Look what you made me do, Ned,” he said in a voice about an
octave lower, looking across his left shoulder at me as I continued
my retreat out of the room and back to the kitchen.
“Hey, Pop,” I replied, plucking up a teenager’s smart©mouthed
courage, “you might be better off covering that whole article with
coffee.  Especially that part about a long fight ahead.”
The best defense really is a good offense, as I’ve confirmed
in my own legal practice a couple of times already.  Archie’s voice
immediately lost its angry edge.  “What do you mean?” he asked, but
I think he already knew.  He was just hoping against hope that the
problem with Mom wasn’t so serious that even his 16©year©old whelp
recognized it so plainly.
“Mom’s not going to like that part of it,” I responded,
confirming Archie’s own fear.
His whole round face, pock marked like a cantelope skin from
teenage acne, seemed to droop slightly, especially his round,
watery blue eyes, confessing his concern about how he was going to
see his new commitment through and continue to live in reasonable
harmony with his wife, my mother.
He turned back to the article and I fancied he was considering
my suggestion of dumping the rest of his coffee onto the newspaper.
I turned round and stepped through the doorway into the
kitchen, almost bumping into Mom.  I was as tall as she was already
back then, even though she was of above average height for a woman.‘      ‘          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
(Archie used to call her “my ultimate skinny woman”, which she
pretty much was.)  Our eyes met and hers seemed as tired as they
had seemed the evening before, as if she had not slept, or at least
not very well.  Her curly red hair was a little wild looking, like
she hadn’t combed it yet.  Without a word she squeezed past me in
the doorway and joined Archie out in the sun room.
I went back to the center hall, up the stairs and headed for
the bathroom.  I was about to go into the bathroom when Claire’s
door opened and she said, “Hey, Ned.”  It was my turn to be a
little startled.  I turned round and saw her head, the hair every
bit as red and curly as Mom’s, poking out of her doorway.
“Ned, what’s up?  Did Dad make the paper?”
“Oh, yeah,” I replied.  “He’s in there, alright.  Page one of
the business section.  I’d say he made it big time.”
“What do you think Mom’s gonna do?” she inquired, opening her
bedroom door a little bit wider, so that I could see she was
wearing the new pink robe she’d received for Christmas.
“Don’t know,” I said.  “But she’s down in the sun room with
ol’ Arch right now.  I guess she’s just about had time to read the
article.”
At that instant we heard a loud bang, which we both had come
to recognize as the sun room door slamming shut, as it sometimes
did in the summertime, when all the room’s windows would be wide
open and a sudden summer breeze might bang it closed.  The next
sounds were footsteps coming quickly through the center hall and‘     Ä%          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
starting up the stairs, footsteps too quick and light to be
Archie’s.  Mom was headed back upstairs.
The last thing I saw, before I closed and locked the bathroom
door, was Claire quickly closing her bedroom door.  From inside the
bathroom, just a wall away from the master bedroom, I heard Mom
enter that chamber and slam that door behind her, too.
I busied myself with showering and brushing my teeth and blow©
drying my hair.  Oddly, unlike most school days, nobody banged on
the door, trying to rush me along in order to take a turn in the
only bathroom on the second floor of our three bedroom colonial.
When I was all through with my morning ‘toilet’, as they used
to say in olden days, I poked my head out of the bathroom,
ascertained that the coast was clear and scooted down the hall and
into my bedroom  to get dressed.  Then I walked quietly downstairs
and back to the kitchen, where I encounterd Claire for the second
time.  She pointed toward the sunroom.  Looking through the glass
of the still©closed door, I saw Archie sitting by himself on the
sofa, turned slightly to the right, so that his face wasn’t visible
from where Claire and I stood.  I went to the refrigerator and
looked for the brown bag with my lunch in it.
“No lunches,” Claire declared quietly.
“Guess we’re buying today, huh?” I responded.
“Yeh, guess so,” she said.  “Mom’s already gone.  She must have
forgot to make them.”
“Think we ought to say goodbye to Dad?” she inquired.‘     Ä%          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘å     I thought about that for a second. “Nope. I think we better
leave him alone.  You got lunch money, Sis?”
“I’m okay,” she said.  “Thanks.”
We shouldered our backpacks and headed for the front door.
I don’t know what Claire’s thoughts were.  But I was thinking,
“This is gonna be a long year.”

‘      ‘          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘åChapter four
Just how bad the year ahead was going to be was brought home to
me that very first day at the high school.  The morning went by
uneventfully.  In fact, I forgot all about Archie and his new case.
A little before noon my homeroom class went down to the cafeteria
for lunch.  I had hardly sat down at one of the long lunchroom
tables with my tray when I heard a voice say from the table behind
me,
“Hey, McAdoo, how do you like it that your old man has a
diseased queer for a client?”
As I turned round on the little round stool that was bolted
right onto the table, the lunchtime chattering around me came to an
abrupt halt.  Grinning at me from the other side of the table
behind mine was Will Hadden… all 200 offensive tackle, unlimited
weight class wrestler, pounds of him.  The spaces between his teeth
were crammed with fragments of the Phillie cheesesteak he was
demolishing.
Huge and powerful as he was, Will Hadden fooled the
uninitiated.  His baby face, fair skinned and freckled, made him
seem to be ©©© at worst ©©© a big friendly young Kodiak bear.  But
those of us who had followed Will Hadden’s career on and off the
playing fields and wrestling mats of Haverford High for the past
four years knew that the big friendly bear could (and gladly would)
smash in the side of your face with one of his great paws and never
alter the foolish grin during the exercise.
Consequently, when I saw the source of the remark I became as‘      ‘          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
thoroughly panicked as was Archie when trying to reply to one of
Mom’s more caustic and challenging jibes.  The panic I, like most
of my classmates, normally experienced when even approached by ‘Big
Bill’ Hadden was intensified by the fact that I didn’t really
understand his question.
Under such confusing and frightening circumstances… and
still almost five years away from the start of the legal training
which hopefully one day will enable me to fashion a crushing retort
to any bully’s challenge … “I beg your pardon,” was the best I
could come back with.  I phrased the words in the finest tradition
of top©track Haverford High students expressing their disdain for
the school’s jocks.  But the patronizing tone rolled off Big Will’s
back like so much rain off of the Kodiak he was.
“You heard, Ar© chee© bald,” he replied, the food©filled
grin as intense and menacing as ever it was.  “I want to know, Mr.
Hot©shot Honor Student, whether you’re happy that your old man is
the lawyer for that faggot up in Bucks County.  Are you proud your
old man represents perverts or what?”
Suddenly it hit me: the Lustig case!  He was referring to the
Lustig case.  I had put the morning’s news story so thoroughly out
of my mind since arriving at school that having it thrown back in
my face, and by no less a villain than Big Will Hadden was as close
to a genuine moment of pure misery as I had come since striking out
in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded during a little
league playoff game when I was just twelve.
‘      ‘          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘å      My response was even more lame than the one before it.
“Uh, I don’t really know any more about the case than what was in
this morning’s paper,” I said, the patronizing tone now completely
absent from my voice.  I vaguely hoped against all hope that this
functional equivalent of “no comment” would stall Big Will’s
attack.
It didn’t even slow him down.
“Okay, Dork,” he pressed on, as he was justly famous for
pressing forward on the football field behind our high school
building when he cleared a path for one of our running backs.
“Maybe you can tell all of us this:  Has your old man always been
a fag©lover?  Or is this something new for him, representing
fruiters against honest, hard©working business people?”
Whatever else Big Will was, he was not the kind of kid to use
turn phrases like “honest, hard©working business people.” And he
certainly wasn’t the type to scan over the business section of the
morning’s Inquirer before catching the school bus.  No, the ideas
he was spouting with such venal pleasure now had to have originated
with √
√hisƒ
ƒ old man, the infamous Henry P. Hadden, owner of Manoa
Candy Convections, a/k/a the bubble gum factory on Eagle Road, and
a past©president of the Haverford Township School Board.
Realizing this, however, did not help me much with my dilemma,
which was to say something… real soon… that would prevent me
from being humiliated in front of my friends ©©©who sat in silence
around my table, watching this unexpected confrontation run its
course ©©© on the one hand, and avoid my getting my lights punched‘      ‘          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
out on the other.  This would be no small feat, even for the
president of the “Future Lawyers of America” club… which, by the
way, I was not.
“My dad is just trying to help a guy who’s in trouble and
can’t afford a lawyer,” I finally responded without very much
conviction.√
√ƒ
ƒ  “Lawyers do what he’s doing all the time.  It’s called
pro bono publico … for the good of the public,” I added, trying
to recapture a little of my top©academic©track sense of
superiority.
“That’s bull, Ar©chee©bald,” Hadden shot back, a morsel of
greasy©looking salami clinging to the corner of his sneering lower
lip.  “My dad says your old man is probably some kind of closet
queer himself, on top of being a crappy lawyer.”
Well, if Big Will Hadden had achieved nothing else with those
remarks, he had certainly succeeded in solving my dilemma.  He
left me with no choice.  There was only one thing for me to do,
unless I wanted to drop out of high school and take a job flipping
burgers at the MacDonald’s three blocks from our house.
Like a man going to his execution, and with no greater choice
in the matter, I jumped up, scrammbled clumsily over the trays of
half©eaten spaghetti and half©drunk milk and juice cartons on the
table in front of my nemisis, and leaped onto Big Will with all the
momentum I could muster from that awkward position.
So startled must the point man of Haverford High’s football
juggernaut have been that he didn’t even get his arms up as he‘     Ä%          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
tumbled off his stool and landed with a mushy ‘thump’ on the
linoleum floor, my 132 pounds right on top of him.
But if my fatalistic act of courage had taken Big Will by
surprise, his shock gave way to rage real fast.  For once the
menacing grin was gone, as he wordlessly raised his big right fist
and clouted me soundly on my left eye.  The blow sent me rolling
off of him and into the lower legs of some of the students who had
instantaneously crowded round the two of us to watch what all
anticipated … as did I … would be my imminent execution.
A few cries of “Let the little faggot have it, Will,” and such
other sporting sentiments were voiced by the friends and pig skin
colleagues of Big Will.  I didn’t hear any words of encouragement
from my fellow members of the Haverford High Honor Society as I
reflexively covered my throbbing left eye with both hands and
waited for the rest of Hadden’s inevitable retribution.
Being half blind and wholly terrified, I was perhaps the last
person in Big Will’s general vicinity to comprehend that he wasn’t
coming at me to finish the job of pulverizing my face.  I
distinctly heard deep moaning sounds, which in my confused and
painful condition, I at first assumed were coming from me.  It took
a couple of seconds for me to figure out that the moans were coming
from somewhere really close to me on my right.
At the same time it began to sink into my throbbing skull that
the shouts of encouragement to finish off another Haverford honor
student had been replaced by a barrage of incredulous questions and
comments coming from those kids closest to Hadden and myself.‘      ‘          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘å     “Will, what’s the matter?”
“Hey, come on, man.  Get up.”
“He’s not getting up.”
I rolled over onto my right side and looked at Big Will Hadden
through my tear©filled right eye.  I saw to my shock and surprise
the blurry image of Hadden’s big, beefy face contorted in pain.
His mouth, so recently set in his trademark grin, now was cotorted.
Moans were all that came forth from those full lips that had been
sneering at me just moments earlier.
I more sensed than saw the mob of students surrounding us
spread apart, as a pair of grey flannel trousers above black, wing™tip shoes approached from Big Will’s right.  I looked up with my
one good eye and saw Mr. John Brennan, Haverford High’s assistant
principal bend down and peer quizzickly at the moaning and groaning
star lineman.

‘      ‘          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘åôChapter five
The day that had turned sour by lunchtime proved itself to be
a complete, and seemingly unredeemable, disaster before the school
day was ended. John Brennan’s hasty interrogation and cursory
examination of Big Will Hadden resulted in a decision to call
Havertown’s volunteer ambulance company and have Will transported
to the community hospital on West Chester Pike.  And since I was
still sitting there on the floor next to my adversary, covering my
left eye with both hands, the emergency response team dragged me
along to the emergency room too.
Once there I received quick treatment and was told to contact
a family member to come and drive me home.  The head nurse in the
ER let me use her phone.  I dialed Archie’s private line into his
study and caught him working at his desk.  I explained the
situation as concisely as I possibly could and he agreed to come
right over for me.
Sure enough, he arrived quickly, although not quickly enough
to save  me from learning the crushing news that Big Will had
suffered some sort of back sprain which would have him on his back
and out of action for the next week or so.  This would mean just
one thing to every jock and coach at Haverford High:  Hadden would
not be weighing in as the Big Red’s heavyweight hero in tomorrow
night’s crucial match against our arch rivals, Lower Merion High
School.  Haverford kids hated their tonier rivals from
Philadelphia’s Main Line and loved being able to hand them a defeat
in any sport, even a relatively minor one like wrestling.  And Big‘      ‘          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
Will, so crucial to our gridiron offense, was usually a sure thing
in his ‘unlimited’ weight class in our once©yearly meet with Lower
Merion as well.
And I, Archibold Edwin (a/k/a Ned) McAdoo IV, had not only been
publicly branded a homosexual in front of most of my best friends,
but I had insured my status of personna non grata by taking Big
Will out of the Saturday night wrestling lineup.  Black Friday it
was for me, and I made the ten minute ride home in Archie’s Honda
Accord in absolute, destitute silence.  I ignored all the old man’s
inquiries, and when we reached our driveway, I hopped out of the
car and went straight into the house, upstairs and into my room,
locking the door behind me.
I threw myself onto the bed and did something I had not done
for at least a couple or three years.  I sobbed into my pillow, and
when I could cry no more, I just lay there with my good eye
squeezed tightly shut against the twilight coming in through the
west facing window.  My blackened left eye was swollen shut.  In
the darkness I unsuccessfully tried to block out the even blacker
thoughts that crowded in on me.
I’m not sure how long I lay there like that, before I was
roused from the depths by a light tap©tap©tap©tap on my door.
I rolled over onto my back.  Tap©tap©tap, again.
“Yeah, who’s there? ” I inquired in a tone which really
translated as “Go away and leave me be.”
“It’s your father,” came the soft reply.  “Can we talk…
please?” ‘      ‘          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘å     I got up onto my elbows.  This wasn’t what I wanted right now,
but I didn’t see much choice.  I got up off the bed, walked to the
door and unlocked it.  Archie came in and sat down in the black
vinyl chair next to my desk.  I went back and sat on the edge of my
bed.  The atmosphere of unspoken emotions in the room was as thick
as a London fog (something I wouldn’t experience until my junior
year in college).
Archie engaged in his usual ritual of throat clearing.  Pop was
a pathetic disciplinarian.  Mom usually administered the
punishments when we were growing up.  Even a good tongue©lashing
was a tough act for Arch to put on.  But here it comes, I
thought… the perfect finale to a perfect day.
“Ned,” he began in a voice which actually trembled a little.
“Ned, I just got off the phone with the assistant principal, Mr.
Brennan.”
Archie paused and rubbed one big, meaty hand over his face,
which I suddenly realized was wet with sweat… or something.
He resumed, “Ned, from what Mr. Brennan told me, well, it sounds
like I’m responsible for that black eye of yours.”
I was shocked.  I realized that, unbelievably, the old man had
come not to punish but to apologize.  He was staring down at his
size twelve©and©a©half, scuffed brown wingtips and nervously
rubbing his hands on his trouser legs.
“Ned… son…”  He was actually choked up. “I… I never
meant for this Lustig thing to cause you or Claire or your mother
any grief.  Oh, I knew it would make your Mom a little upset.‘      ‘          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘åBut I really didn’t know the case would have this kind of effect in
the community, or… or certainly not on your life.
“Son,” he said, “I’m sorry.”

‘      ‘          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘åôChapter Six
Looking back from the perspective of more than a decade, I see
a comical pair of guys facing each other across the few feet which
separated the desk chair from the foot of my bed.  In my mind’s eye
my dad is a Buddha in a business suit:  large and round of face and
belly and thighs, his feet tucked beneath the chair’s seat, crossed
at the ankles, beefy hands resting in his lap, his whole great
carcass seeming to be on the verge of a melt©down into a huge blob
on the floor.
And I am a sorry looking sixteen©year©old, hair dishevelled,
left eye swollen shut and surrounded by a mixture of putrid colors,
about half of Archie’s weight and still several inches shorter than
he was.
I favored Mom in her thinness, and the length and straightness
of her nose.  Unfortunately I favored my father in that my face was
sprinkled with half a dozen zits in various stages of development
or decline.
Staring at the carpet near my sneakered feet, Archie continued
talking softly, deliberately, as if considering every word.
“Ned, I’ve spent my whole life ©©© 45 years ©©© feeling
different.  In school I was always the fattest kid in the class.”
He shuffled his large buttocks on the vinyl seat, which was smaller
than they were, as if he was anxious about tipping off the chair.
“In high school and college I was the guy with the biggest and
nastiest©looking pimples.  The Haverford High bully used to lay for
me, too. His name was Herman Hilderbrand, incidentally.  He used to‘      ‘          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
call me ‘Ol’ King Clearasil.’  He once told me I was nothing but a
200©pound sack of pus.’  In college I stayed a virgin longer than
any other guy in my fraternity.”
At that point he looked up and his eyes met mine.  We both
blushed a little and found ourselves smiling at one another.
“I guess I went to law school because I thought being a
lawyer would give me the self©confidence and the weapons to fight
back a little better against a hostile world.  Instead I discovered
that under extreme pressure ©©© such as in a courtroom ©©© I break
into a stutter.
“That little surprise came during my second semester at
Temple Law, when we all had to finish off our first year with an
oral argument for moot court.  I barely got through it.  After that
I thought about dropping out.  But I stayed with it, though I
didn’t study very hard after that.”
Archie reached into his back pocket and dragged a handkerchief
out.  He blew his big, red nose really hard, then opened the
handkerchief to inspect the results… a habit of his that had
always disgusted me.  Seemingly satisfied with the results, he
rolled the end product up in the hanky and jammed it back into his
pants pocket.
“A two©three GPA from Temple didn’t get you many job offers
back then, anymore than it would today I guess.  Anyway, that’s why
I ended up in a solo practice right back here in my home town.  I
was lucky that a working girl ©©© your Mom ©©© would have me. ‘     Ä%¬         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
Otherwise I probably would never have been able to afford a house
and a family.”
Archie reached back toward the pocket where he kept his hanky
and I thought, “Oh, no, he’s gonna blow it again.”  But this time
he just readjusted the handkerchief, and then shifted his rear end
a little on the shiny black vinyl seat, his buttocks making a
squeaking noise on the seat.  He looked at me a little embarrassed,
as if fearful that I thought the sound was him breaking wind…
another nasty habit of Archie’s, when he thought no one was paying
any attention.
As for me, I seemed to be noticing all these little details of
my Dad’s behaviour… in fact, can see them clearly still across
the gap of a dozen very busy years… as if the day’s traumatic
events had left me with new found powers of concentration.  I can’t
recall shuffling my feet or interrupting Archie’s monologue even
once.
“Ned, I know your Mother thinks this Lustig case is just one
more of my follies, like the time I took three months off from the
practice to try and write that mystery novel.”  He paused a second,
as if considering his opponent’s argument, and perhaps finding it
to have merit.  “And I have to admit there are some similarities.
What I mean is, part of this is another try at amounting to
something better than just a small town attorney.  I have to admit
that.”  He was staring at that spot on the carpet just in front of
my feet again, shaking his head back and forth ever so slightly.‘     Ä%          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘å     Suddenly he raised his head and caught my eyes with his big,
watery blue ones.  The intensity of his gaze startled me a little
bit.
“But, Ned, there’s a lot more to it than that.  Ned, son,
Dennis Lustig is in his special way different, the way I’ve always
felt a little different in mine.  First of all he’s gay…
not a ‘queer’ or a ‘faggot’, by the way, no matter what that Hadden
kid or his neo©Nazi father may want to call him.”  Was this passion
I was seeing in Pop’s face, hearing in his voice?  I straightened
up and returned his stare with my one open eye.
“Additionally, son, Lustig is sick.  He’s HIV positive.  Do you
understand what that means.”
Trying to reply, I realized I had been listening silently all
this time and had never cleared the phlegm that had accumulated on
my throat when I had been sobbing on my pillow a few minutes
earlier.  I cleared it now.
“Sure, Dad.  I know.  Everybody knows about HIV and AIDS.
They teach us about them at school.”
“You say that with such certainty, Ned.  But, you know, just
four or five years ago, not one American in a hundred could have
told you what either one of those conditions was.  Even today,
about all that’s known is that its usually sexually transmitted,
there’s no cure, and so if you get it, it’ll eventually kill you.”
Another pause, then, “That’s what Denny Lustig lives with
every day now.  It’s what’s waiting for him when he wakes up in the‘     Ä%!         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
morning.  And now he’s been denied the dignity of even holding a
job.
“That’s the other reason I took this case, Ned.  Just once I
want to do something that really matters in the scheme of things.
This disease, this AIDS thing, is gonna be around for a long time.
It’s gonna hurt a lot of people.  People, such as their employers,
can make things better for these victims, or like Freeman’s Dairy
Bar, they can make it much, much worse.  The law should protect the
Dennis Lustigs.  That’s part of why I became a lawyer in the first
place.  I sort of lost sight of that for… ”
He smiled a little, at himself I guess. “…for the past 19
years.  Can you understand what I’m trying to say, son?”
This time it was my turn to shift my bottom around a little
nervously, and to clear my throat again.  A swirling mixture of
images and emotions filled my head.  I felt both anger and
something new… respect? …
“Yeh, Pop, I understand.  But…”
“But, like your Mom, you didn’t bargain for all the flack
that’s apparently coming your way because of my decision. Right?”
Now it was my turn to look him in the face with my one good
eye.  “Yeh, Dad, that’s right.  Look, I’m a little bit of an
outsider at school, myself.  You know?  And I don’t need Will
Hadden and his merry band of apes stalking me in the hallways.
Okay?  I mean…”  I dropped my head, my righteous anger suddenly
dissipated, feeling as if I might start bawling again.  “Look, Pop,‘     Ä%”         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
I don’t need to be a one©man leper colony.  I don’t think I can
handle it.”
Quicker than I thought my old man could move his 290 or 300
pounds, Archie was on his knees in front of me, drawing me towards
him with his big, beefy arms, and hugging me like I was about to
drop off the edge of the earth and he was hanging on to keep me
from going.  He seemed to be sniffling.  And, just as if I were six
or seven again, I put my head on his broad right shoulder and tears
streamed again from my good right eye.

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One Response to “Serialization: Why My Dad Hates Ice Cream (3)”

  1. […] post:  Serialization: Why My Dad Hates Ice Cream (3) Fashion, Style, Uncategorized | @ 6:28 am Nate […]

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