As I was saying:
I suppose I could’ve just rung up Mr. __________, but there were a lot of variables to consider. Would he even remember Callie? Or that she was pregnant when they parted ways? How would I persuade him to admit that he was my father? Hell, how would I even introduce myself? “Hey there, it’s me, your bastard son! Happy holidays!”
No, an out-of-the-blue phone call to my long-lost potential bio-dad seemed imprudent, so I did the only sensible thing I could: I let someone else do the dirty work. I forwarded the email and the link to Callie and waited for her to call. (She’s a very responsible woman, so I knew it wouldn’t take long.)
It didn’t. In less than an hour, she called, fresh from a few rounds of web-searching for info on the mystery man. Mr. _________, as it turned out, had several children and an estranged wife who was recently deceased. That last bit was oddly good to hear–only because when I tried to imagine all this from _________’s perspective, I presumed the hardest part would be telling his wife. “So, how was your day, honey? …Uh-huh. …Well, that sounds good. By the way, did I mention I got my college girlfriend pregnant? Because–funny story–the kid called me today. Could you pass the baba ghanoush?”
Still, I was excited, and so was Callie. Like me, she’s a born researcher, and this news gave her the opportunity not only to use her investigative skills, but also, more profoundly, to fill in a missing chapter from her own life. I don’t mean to imply that Callie still carried a torch for Mr. _________, or that she wanted to rekindle any long-ago flame, but to reconnect with the man who fathered your first child…. I mean, that’s kind of a big thing to check off your to-do list.
But even more than the thrill of research and rediscovery, Callie was excited about a very strange coincidence: that day, December 7, was the very day I’d been conceived 40 years before. Exhibiting memory skills that, alas, I didn’t inherit, she recalled that the one and only time she and _________ did the deed was on Pearl Harbor Day. (Which begged the question: what made that particular Pearl Harbor Day memorable? Was there a besotted Pearl Harbor Day party that led to my conception?) So in keeping with the general weirdness surrounding my adoption saga, I’d found my father exactly four decades after I became more than just a sparkle in his eye. Assuming, or course, that this was the right guy.
I asked Callie how she thought I should proceed, hoping all the while that she’d volunteer to make the first call. I mean, at least she knew the guy, once upon a time. Maybe she could just play it off like she found him by accident and called to say “hi”. Worst case scenario, they’d talk about the weather for a few minutes, then go their separate ways. Whether Callie sensed my unease or whether she was just eager to speak to him, she offered. She said she’d call me back as soon as she was done.
I went back to work, and before I knew it, an hour had passed. Then two. Finally, just as I was about to run out to lunch, she rang. She’d been on the phone with him the whole time.
As I suspected, at first Mr. _____________ was reluctant to admit that he was the right guy. Callie played it cool, calling under the pretense of gathering info for an alumni database, but he didn’t bite. Just before he hung up on her, though, she must’ve said something that broke the ice, something that made her identity and her intent clear. After that, it was gab, gab, gab.
She said he was warm and funny and very talkative, despite his initial reticence. He’d lived through a lot but still bore similarities to the man she’d known in college. He’d mentioned that he was pretty conservative, and he’d asked if I was married. Callie said no, and he asked if I was gay. She said yes, and the subject was dropped…. That didn’t sound especially good, but at least he knew.
Most importantly, Callie said that Mr. __________ was interested in chatting with me, but that he wanted me to call at a specific time so he could speak freely. (The Yellow Pages listing only had his business line, and he didn’t offer a home or cell number.) I had a long list of things to do that afternoon that I couldn’t avoid, so I called and arranged for a chat the next morning. He rang me at 11am on the dot.
We talked for over an hour that morning. He told me some harrowing stories about living through the wars in Lebanon, fearing for his life, escaping in the middle of the night to Cyprus, going back to Beirut and trying to raise a family, and eventually moving to the states. I told him about my life growing up and my life now. I sent him some photos to look over, which he seemed to enjoy, but it’s hard to tell. We’re still kind of feeling each other out.
Not surprisingly, my chats with ____________ have been very different from the first ones I had with Callie. She was overjoyed when I contacted her; she’d been waiting for that moment for years. We had a lot in common–including many friends in New Orleans–and she and my half-sister and I got along like a house on fire, right from the start.
With Mr. ________, it’s slower going, much more cautious. I mean, hell, he’s only known about me for a couple of weeks. In forty years, I don’t think he’d thought of me at all, and he certainly wasn’t anticipating the moment of contact. He’s very different from me, raised in a different culture, with a large family who don’t even know I exist. I can tell we differ in our political and social views–but then, I have the same problem with my adoptive family, and we somehow manage to avoid killing one another at Christmas. So I’m guessing that Mr. ___________ and I will gradually get through it.
I think things would be easier if I weren’t gay. ____________ seems fairly religious (Christian, fyi), and when I bring up Jonno in coversation, the subject changes pretty quickly–though that might be my own doing, to avoid making him uncomfortable. Still, his children sound pretty cool and laid back, and they get along with him, so he can’t be a total ogre. In fact, I have to agree with Callie: he’s a very warm, inquisitive, and talkative man.
Bottom line: Mr. ___________ has clearly indicated that he wants to keep talking. And in our last chat, (we’ve had three now), he even mentioned a possible meeting in the not-too-distant future. So it may not be as easy and immediate and open as my relationship with Callie, but it’s happening. And I’m happy.