M Y F A T
H E R, H E L O O K S
L I K E L E N N Y S T R O L L O
BY FREDDIE MONTGOMERY
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My father looks like Lenny Strollo.
When he goes to the store, women twitter, giggle, are transported back
years into blushing adolescence. If they were older, of another era
perhaps, they would fan themselves and hide their smiles behind. Men
look at him sidelong, sometimes with malicious intent. My father, he
is impervious to all this. Or so he says. He cannot but notice this
quiet flurry of activity, in the vegetable isle at the market when running
an errand for my mother, sometimes even in the next car, at the light.
Once, in Wal-Mart, a woman fainted. My father rushed to her aid. She
would claim it was due to the whiff of cleaning detergent from an adjacent
in-store display as she thrust into his hands a crumpled register receipt
on which her phone number was hastily scribbled.
We don't know that my father always looked like Lenny. There are no
photos from which to make a credible analysis. When pressed on this
point, my father smiles, but demurs. His shroud of mystery and deceit
is flawless. It should be noted that I personally do not see the association,
never having seen Lenny. But I embrace it with the same fervor as the
giggling women. I do not brag of this quality, but sometimes I swagger
slightly, at the mall, but especially in bars. Unfortunately, if Lenny
has a son, I do not look like him, not so at least to the degree which
might inspire someone to tell, or giggle after me in the vegetable section.
My mother is not particularly worried. You might think she frets about
his safety, that this confusion might somehow hurt him, or the others.
But my mother, she is 'of a certain age.' She thinks it is good that
there is some regular diversion in his life, a responsibility she tired
of years ago. My sister and I are equivocal on the subject. We agree
with my mother's dispassionate acceptance, but we wonder if this might
lead to greater confusion and frustration. He is an old man now, and
such concerns should not figure large in a man's life. It is not an
issue of great import, but nor do we think he should be so blithe.
Should he take his still winning smile up to that girlish woman, and
gently dissipate her hopes? Not so much shatter; this is not, after
all, international diplomacy. But there is something unseemly about
his manner. He enjoys his notoriety, and thinks it fair. Whether it
was only recently, if not for always, that he has discovered this similarity,
why shouldn't he have his time? He knows it will pass. It worried him,
even, at the beginning. But the same women still giggle and the same
men still look furtively with set mouths, and things do not change.
My father, he looks like Lenny Strollo.