“I want to live with daddy” I whined as I tearfully moped around the house for the first few months after my parents split. I walked room to room crying, following my mother as she picked up laundry, throwing myself on the bed she was trying to make.
“Your father doesn’t want you!” she finally snapped after she had had enough. “He wants to live like a bachelor in a fancy million dollar condo so him and his prostitute can be happy together”. She hurried out of the bedroom, my face still squished into a pillow.
I still remember that moment. The smell of moth balls, my toes pressed against the orange shag carpet, the itchy comforter against my skin.
I didn’t understand what a bachelor was or what a fancy condo meant or anything. All I heard was that my father didn’t want me. That’s carried with me my whole life. And regardless of whether he wanted me or not, regardless of the fact that my mother was devastated herself, and wasn’t thinking straight when she blurted out those words, she didn’t mean to hurt me. The fact remained, my father wasn’t there to say otherwise. I didn’t want to believe it, but I did.
You see, I hadn’t seen my dad since we moved out. Our house had sold quickly and my mom, brother and I temporarily moved into my dad’s parent’s house. My grandparents were away in Italy for another month so we could stay there while we figured out a place to live.
I got moved to a new school. I remember asking around to see if anyone knew what a prostitute was.
“Do you know what a ‘prostitute’ is?” I asked this girl Sarah.
“Yeahhhh, you don’t?” Sarah was very cool, she rode horses and sometimes she missed school because she was in commercials.
“Yeah, I was just seeing if you did” I lied.
“Are you a virgin?”
“Nooo!” to whatever that was.
“You’re not?!” She sung in the way kids taunt other kids, “Riva’s not a virgin!!”
“Wait, what? What is a virgin” I asked her.
“I don’t know” she confided, “but the right answer is yes”
“Ohhh” I laughed. “Okay, let’s go play it on Tara!”
I don’t remember how I finally learned what a prostitute was but when I did I remember wondering why my dad needed one. He was a good-looking guy. He had wavy black hair, tanned skin, and a hairy chest that he showcased by always leaving a few buttons of his shirt open.
I first met the prostitute, Kaska was her name, when my dad picked me up to go out for the day. She was in the back seat. I didn’t like her. How could I like a prostitute? She was tall with long blond hair and a European accent.
A few months later my dad showed up at my mom’s house with bloody scratches all over his face. He sat at the head of the dining room table chain smoking and snacking on Melba toast and peanut butter. He told us that he and the prostitute were over.
It wasn’t until years later that I realized Kaska wasn’t actually a prostitute. And I mean years later! It’s kind of embarrassing actually. My mother had just called her that in haste and pain and it just stuck. Kaska wasn’t a prostitute, she was my father’s mistress.