I’m just going to write.
Goodie Lee is my dad and he’s living with me now. I wake up today and he’s already up, in the living room. Sports Center’s “First Take” plays. Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith argue about the Lakers and how many shots Kobe will take this season. Dad watches intently. He wouldn’t care if Kobe shot every shot. He’s a mamba fan and a life long Lakers fan. I make a protein shake, he grabs the second half of a joint, and we walk outside. It’s 75 and sunny. It’s always 75 and sunny in LA. That’s why my dad moved here a week ago. We walk around my block in Hancock Park. Goodie, smoking a joint without coughing and me drinking a whey protein shake. (It’s good to have whey protein first thing in the morning. Helps with metabolism and gives you muscles and shit. I think…) And at this moment, I realize that this is one of the best mornings I’ve ever had. Nothing special happens. We don’t even talk that much. It’s just comforting. My dad just turned 78. Born in 1936 in Texarkansas, Arkansas and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, William “Goodie” Lee has managed to learn everything about life without ever graduating high school. And the craziest part about that is… he doesn’t even know. But I do. And that’s why I’m writing this blog.
We walk past my 50-year-old white neighbor who is walking her dog. It’s small. Cute. White fur. Now, I’m not quite sure what breed of dog it is, but I am quite sure that he doesn’t like black people. I’ve walked past this dog almost every day for the better part of a year. And each and every one of those days, this dog has barked at me until it foams at the mouth. I actually feel bad for the owner. She’s beyond embarrassed. And at this point, there is an unspoken acknowledgement between she and I that we both know her dog has an “issue” with me and she doesn’t know what to do about it. And I’m not making it any better. I refuse to say stuff like “Oh, it’s okay!” or, “Psh. Dogs, right?” or put out my hand so it can sniff me and get comfortable with my scent and/or bite off my entire hand. I just stare at her and that little dog, very prepared to punt the shit out of him if she loses her grip on the leash. But I’m used to it by now. My dad isn’t. So today, when I see her up ahead walking towards us, I give him the heads up. “That little white dog up ahead? Yeah, the cute one? I don’t think it likes black people.” Goodie immediately says, “Oh, that’s the dog you were tellin’ me about?” But before I can answer, I see her make a decision. Instead of hoping her dog doesn’t embarrass her yet again by barking “N” words at us in dog, she’s accepted the realization that her dog is never going to stop wanting to kill me. So I see her tighten up the leash and guide her dog off the sidewalk and into the street so we can all pass without incident. She doesn’t even look up at us. Because she knows that that’s somehow even worse than if she walked past us and the dog actually snarled and barked at us. Her detour says, “Fuck it. We both know how this dog feels about you and I’m tired of acting surprised or embarrassed or apologizing when it lunges at you so hard it almost breaks its neck.” I hear the dog barking on the other side of a Prius and her saying “I know, I know.” But at least neither of us is worried about me kicking it into the neighbor’s yard.
Back to my dad.
“Yeah, that’s a messed up dog. But hey—don’t even trip on that.” Then, without missing a beat. “Man, it’s nice outside.”
And that’s it. That’s how he drops little nuggets of wisdom on you. He’s not teaching you shit. He says what he feels and take from it what you will. It’s a simple statement but it’s a powerful statement. And as a person who gets caught up wallowing in some of the dumbest, insignificant, ridiculous, frivolous, petty, small, non-boss-shit things, it’s a statement that hits me in the gut today.
He smokes the rest of his joint and heads towards the front door. I tell him I’ll be right in. I just want to stand in the sun a little longer. Because he’s absolutely right. It is nice outside.
Goodie pops back out. “Hey. That was a pretty good walk. I should do that every day.” I say, “Yeah. That’s cool. I’ll join you.” He nods and then goes inside.
I stay out for just another few minutes. Goodie Lee is in town and it feels good. I’ve forgotten all about squib-kicking that dog.