1. We’re Not Going to Get Thrown in a Van
The Dads were a man and a woman. They were my father, Linus, and Khadijah’s mother, Nancy. Khadijah called them the Dads because, in her family, Nancy played the traditional paternal role. She spent more time at work than Khadijah’s father, she made more money, she was harder to talk to. She was a Dad. And my father was a Dad.
To explain why we needed a name for the pair of them, I’ll start with the Friday that Khadijah and I, with our respective Dads, ran into each other at Gaia Foods. The Day of the Dads.
It was early March, Language Day at Wattsbury Regional. As sophomores active in language clubs—I, Russian; Khadijah, French—we both manned tables, selling borscht and mousse outside the cafeteria after school. We never spoke during Language Day, although our tables stood five feet apart. All I knew about Khadijah was that she was third-tier popular, all academics, no sports, no theater, no newspaper, an organized girl who recorded homework assignments in apple green pen in high-quality notebooks, and that her deceptively black-sounding name, pronounced Kah-DEE-jah, was a product of Nancy’s Sufi years.