Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 14, 2003
I was supposed to be a boy.
I guess, after two daughters, Daddy thought the third time’s surely the charm.
In those days there was no ultrasound.
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You just had to wait until the blessed event before you knew whether it would be a celebration tinged in pink or blue.
After Dr. Philip Speir delivered me, he reportedly told my father, &uot;Now, you wouldn’t have wanted to mess up that set of little girls with a boy, would you?&uot;
Daddy didn’t get the chance to spoil the matched set of sisters.
I proved to be his youngest, the mid-life baby that helped usher in Daddy’s fortieth year.
I wasn’t a boy, not even a decent tomboy (too much of a klutz).
But I did like playing in the barn loft and riding in the tractor scoop.
I learned how to herd stray baby chicks back into their house.
I came to love the smell of diesel fuel any time of the day.
It was the magic elixir that ran Daddy’s favorite John Deere. Like his Old Spice aftershave, Kool cigarettes and the scent of poultry feed, it was a smell I always identified with Daddy.
He called me any number of nicknames, depending on his mood and mine.
Sometimes I was &uot;peanut&uot;, &uot;butter bean&uot; or &uot;sugah&uot;.
If he was feeling mischievous, I was stuck with &uot;boy&uot; or the odious &uot;Stank Jim&uot;.
When Daddy decided I was getting a little too uppity, I was tagged &uot;Miz Astohbelt&uot; (I finally figured out that one.
It was a combination of the names of those high society ladies of old, Mrs. Astor and Mrs. Vanderbilt—Daddy’s way of putting his high-falutin’ daughter in her place).
I always relished our trips for two to Tucker’s store in Honoraville. With the windows rolled down on his dusty old pickup, a welcome breeze tossing my long blonde braids and the busted speedometer registering a steady speed of zero, I knew I was headed to a sweet treat at Mr. Luke’s candy counter.
Daddy and I both had a sweet tooth.
We also shared our ugly &uot;classic German&uot; feet and sturdy legs, fair skin that never tanned well and too many vertebrae in our backs.
We both loved Mama’s fried chicken and her biscuits and her homemade fig preserves.
We liked singing ‘Amazing Grace’ together, getting hugs and sharing a little laughter in life.
We were also both stubborn and quick-tempered.
We often did not see eye to eye.
Yet either of us would have done anything to try to help the other one.
I wasn’t the boy he wanted, but I did turn out to be Daddy’s girl. In the end, that was enough for both of us.