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Emma Tattenbaum-Fine Headshot

Meeting My Father (Sorta Kinda Not Really)

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When I was 8, my mom, M, helped me to draw what I thought my dad looked like.

Together we created the most butch heterosexual male that a lesbian femme and a little girl can muster. We gave him blonde hair like me and put him in a Dallas Cowboys sweatshirt, asking each other, "That's football, right?" We put holes in his jeans, made him a very slim and modest 5'7", gave him hazel eyes like mine and named him Francis, thereby undoing his masculinity in one fell swoop. We gave him glasses too, deciding that he ought to be a smart sort of football fan, not one of those loud assholes you see barfing in the stands.

Together we colored in Francis and then looked at him against the background of the wooden floor, colored pencils splayed out and rolling away from our masterpiece. He was so "dad-ish"! And like Pygmalion, I gazed into his eyes, imbuing him with personhood and easily loving him.

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When I was 23, I met Francis at a Halloween party at Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre. I was on the dance floor dressed as the sexy green M & M.

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I was with a marvelous spindly guy, who was dressed as a marvelous spindly guy, dancing my heart out when his friend approached. His friend was dressed as a marvelous spindly guy's friend and was a terrible dancer, but his interest in me was clear. He was blonde and pale. I felt instantly that I had met him before. We started to dance, badly, and his more talented friend left us to stare into one another. He introduced himself as Edward, nervously touching his glasses and blinking his hazel eyes.

We started dating casually and I found him to be warm, compellingly bizarre, and formidably intelligent. At a speakeasy one night I told him that as an eight-year-old, I had drawn an eerily accurate rendering of him and that I was essentially dating my father. He took the news in stride. No one is really impressed by anything at a speakeasy.

When he dumped me, citing vaguely that he was either horribly depressed or gay or both, I wrote no fewer than 19 poems and one comedic sketch about him. Most men I've slept with get zero poems and one sketch written about them on average, to give you a sense of comparison.

Edward had promised to help my sketch comedy group submit a pilot to MTV, where he was working. However, after months of our blood, sweat, tears, and fundraising, he read the pilot and said it was utterly incoherent and bad and never pushed it any further.

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So that was Francis, having never actually existed in the first place, incarnated as an unsuccessful relationship and a botched networking opportunity. This is what happens, I suppose, when you try to date your father and you're working off of a drawing.

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Read more from Emma about growing up and being a grownup with two moms at two-and-a-half-women.tumblr.com.