"I want to stay up until dawn! I don't want to go to bed daddy! Mommy's not here. Five extra minutes won't hurt anything, right? Please let me have five more minutes? Or at least tell me a story! It is still kind of sunny out still. The sky's awake so I'm awake. Please, daddy! Just the one about how you met mom and then asked her out!" I plead and beg. My mom's been out all night. My dad knows why, but he won't tell me why. I hate when they won't tell me things. Especially because my mom hinted that it's because of my birthday in a week. Now I wanted to really know what it had to do with me turning six.
"Once upon a time, there was a girl of the age five, in a week six, who was named Grace." He tucks me in. "She got tucked in by the most amazing, best father, most strong father on the entire planet." I roll my eyes at him and laugh. "She got tucked into bed, told this very story, and went to bed good night!" I start crying and whining at him. He's already left the room. And then I start screaming bloody murder at the top of my lungs. The people who live above us told us to be quiet. I think one knocked on the door telling my dad to settle his kid.
Does not matter to me. I keep screaming until my dad comes into my room. "What do you want? Stop screaming so much! Please! Our neighbors are complaining to me about how loud you have been since I left your room. Stop screaming and go to bed. Please!" Now he is begging me. Just the way I wanted it to be. I get a devilish look in my eye. He knows what I want. He knows that what I want is a story. He rolls his eyes, turns on the lamp. He then climbs under the covers and joins me. He starts cuddling me. And then he puts on his thinking face.
He's not going to tell me one of my storybooks. He's going to tell me one of the stories either from his memory or off the tip of his head he's going to tell me one of his special stories. "Did I ever tell you how I met your mother?" I shake my head no very slowly. He was going to tell me one of his memories. I liked these the best. Not even my mom told me this one. He has a big grin on his face. I know this is going to be a really long story, but that's what I want. To stay up until dawn. I want to be up until after my parents. "Well then, I suppose you should know, right?" I nod my head very quickly this time. I really want to know.
"Well, we met in high school. Your mother had just transferred schools to the one I was at. Now your mother was not very popular. She was actually quite shy." I stare at him like he was crazy. My mother was the most social person I had ever met. More than me, and I was pretty popular in my first-grade class. As far as being in first-grade goes at least. "Hard to believe? I know. Anyway, I was on the basketball team." I stare at him again. My dad on the basketball team? "Yeah, I liked basketball." Wow.
This was a lot for me to take. My dad watched football and automotive maintenance commercials. Or the tape commercial. But not much else. He nods at me again. I had never seen him even so much as think about picking up a basketball. Or telling me or mommy he wanted to play basketball. And now all of a sudden he is telling me that he was on the basketball team. He was one of the sporty basketball kids. There was so much of this aspect I needed to take in. So much I thought I knew but am coming to realize I really did not know all along.
My mother was more social than the most popular kid in my class. Not me, but one of my friends. He keeps nodding. "Anyway, your mother decided she wanted to be on the cheerleading team. She was probably the best cheerleader out there too, let me tell you." I knew my mother was a cheerleader. My grandmother told me this. "One day," he continued, "I was at school and the guys on the team told me to flirt with one of the cheerleaders."
And then I'm pretty sure what happened next. It felt like something that he would do. "No daddy, don't tell me you flirted with mommy!" I cry and start laughing and then he puts on a goofy grin and nods. I start laughing super hard. "Did she flirt back too?" I wonder aloud. My dad starts laughing. And then he violently shakes his head no. Then we both start laughing. But then he returns to storytelling mode. He's in between serious and regular. He tells me all the things he said to her. All of them are super cheesy pick-up lines that only my dad could come up with.
"And then your mother said, 'ew, I don't want to be with you!' but at that moment I realized that I wanted to marry her. I knew I had to be with her. So I kept asking her out. Let me tell you, by about the tenth time I was ready to give up. Especially because I had asked her ten days in almost a row. But still, she said no. Until the eleventh day where your mother said fine, to pick her up at eight that night. And we've been together ever since. Now, good night." He turns out the light and snuggles with me. I'm falling asleep. But I want to stay up until dawn. But then I think a few minutes could not hurt to have slept.