My dad wasn’t a fan, but I knew he wasn’t going to truly like anyone anyway as no one would ever be good enough for me in his mind. He was Italian, passionate, and handsome with dark features. I explained that my parents weren’t coming to California for Christmas because our family dog needed emergency eye surgery.
He shared some of his negative experiences with African-Americans and how they treated women in the Marines and what he felt the view of white women dating black men was.
The email contained conditions for us working things out beginning with “you have to agree not to engage in this kind of behavior again” meaning that I would have to agree not to date black guys.
My dad is tremendously funny and a phenomenal story teller. I wore the same pair of vans tennis shoes to school for 5 years straight, had long un-brushed hair, and wore oversized sweatshirts and jean shorts to school. Because I wasn’t popular and because I was picky, I didn’t go on a single date until I was almost 20 years old. I thought it best to not deal with this all in real time in hopes that my Dad would come to his senses.
I think I always had a high bar when it came to dating because my dad really had it all; he was tall, dark, and handsome, educated, successful, ethical, funny, athletic, and handy. He was a tall, blonde, surfer that ended up moving to San Diego for college and that was the end of that. My aunt, however, told me both Aaron and I were welcome over for Christmas so I jumped at the opportunity.
I called my Dad in early to December to break the news- I was bringing a guy home for the holidays. He told me that was not acceptable to him, he was disappointed in me, and there was no way I was bringing Aaron over. A week later my dad sent me a text saying he was opting out of my life. Here I was in an interracial relationship living naively (I guess) to the world and even my own family. Maybe this had to do with his North Carolina upbringing, his time spent in the Marines, or something in his life pre-Ashley? I was emotionally drained and therefore emotionally unavailable and I think it became obvious I wasn’t being honest. My legs were shaking under the table and my teeth were chattering as I explained everything.
As I told him about Aaron and I, the phone was silent; a pause on the other end of the line, “Is that that black kid? I was not to call him anymore, I had 2 weeks to get all of my items out of our family home, he had removed me from his will, and Christmas was cancelled. My dad wasn’t one of those crazy racist confederate flag people, right? My Dad’s birthday was in January so I decided to reach out and try to get a conversation going, even if it was awkward. All I can say is that I got through it only by the grace of God and I have no recollection of my words.I’ll never forget the day I was walking to my car at work and spotted a tall, dark, and handsome guy walking towards me dressed in all black. As he got closer, I realized he was a former college classmate and coworker that I had known casually for years; Aaron. I was nervous and excited to bring Aaron over to meet my family. I’m a deceivingly outgoing introvert, but it was noticeable that I became withdrawn.They had met him before through some work functions and he had attended one of my dance performances earlier that year, but this was long ago, and now we were an item. I spoke to my mom the next day and she said my dad had pretty much gone off the deep end and I needed to let him cool down. I thought he would trust my judgment and know that since I’ve only dated a handful of people that this person was special to me and would make the effort. I had no appetite, no interest in going out, being with friends, and definitely neglected my boyfriend in pretty much every possible way. I cried and cried and cried ahead of time both by myself and with friends hoping to ensure that I wouldn’t have a complete meltdown in front of Aaron.Aside from the occasional comment on the freeway my dad never said anything about race. He responded saying and there was no point in trying to correspond with him. There was a pause, followed by “I wish you wouldn’t have told me that so I would still think the world is a cool place”.More awkward silence, lack of eye contact, blank face.I’m sure my dad didn’t think he was good enough either. It felt like a fit and I was pleasantly surprised when he invited me to spend his birthday weekend with him and his family in Palm Springs. As the holidays approached, I wasn’t sure what to do. When I told Aaron this, he offered to drive out to Vegas with me at some point during our holiday break to go see them.