(From my memoir “to Paris for lunch”)
As a child, one knows quickly which parent is good and useful in different areas. I already see how my daughter has figured out what she prefers doing with me and she tells me what her Papa is better at.
My Mother gave me some calmness and I learned from her to take things step by step and how to celebrate little achievements. She was the one sitting with me while I was struggling to finish my homework. She was the one that saw me through my driving licence test. She made me read books and found the perfect ones that would keep me hooked reading for days from a young age.
My Father had no patience when it came to those things. But having fun, being mischievous, that was his speciality. I guess we all have experienced something with each of our parents that will stay with us forever.
This is one of mine.
I remember waking up early one Sunday morning and found my father whispering to me,
“Get dressed Spatz, we are going for a drive. Don’t wake your mother, I’ll leave a note.”;
So he wrote: “We’re off to Paris for lunch!”
It was so exciting; my Father helped me find some clothes and with a big smile on his face we got dressed, very quietly. Every time I could not control myself and a little giggle escaped out of my mouth, he would put a finger to his lips and looked very serious for a moment…and then we would both laugh, trying not to make a sound. We had an understanding, father and daughter, and I was encouraged to be different.
“My daughter is not going to religious lessons! I don’t care what the school policies are. When she is eighteen she can make up her own mind, but for now, she will not have her brain filled with stupid stories!”;
And then to me, “Spatz, do you really want to keep looking at this guy with blood running down his body and nails through his hands and feet?”;
Answering for me, “No child should be exposed to this!”;
To my dentist, “No, she is not having those stupid metal teeth guards!”;
To me: “Spatz, do you really want to look like everybody else? It’s an American thing and I don’t trust Americans!”;
And that was the end of that!
So, one early sunny Sunday morning, I found myself on the autobahn, no traffic, driving one hundred and eighty kilometres per hour, without wearing a seatbelt, playing with my Barbie in the front seat, whilst my father was completely happy whistling to Charles Aznavour. He had just bought himself a second hand sports car with leather seats and loved driving it.
“Spatz, isn’t this good?! We will have a nice breakfast somewhere, I will buy you another one of those comics and then we will have a great lunch! See, here we are, you and me, everything is possible!”;
It took us just over six hours to get to Paris, including two stops, and when we arrived we had lunch in a Michelin star restaurant. My Father had a very good bottle of wine, I had escargot, and he explained every cheese to me that the cheese master had to offer.
Afterwards we walked along the Seine, he showed me his favourite spot, where he kissed a beautiful girl, “not as beautiful as your Mama of course”;, and then after a quick coffee and ice cream, we headed back home.
When my teacher asked us the next day to write down what we did over the weekend, she thought my imagination had run away with me and kept shaking her head when I declared loudly it was true.
“I drove with my Papa to Paris yesterday morning, we had lunch there and came back the same night!”; Everybody was laughing and nobody believed me.
However the teacher gave me a star for coming up with such a great story.