I’ve been known to mistake Johnny Cash for my dad. Not that there’s a resemblance of any kind. I think it has something to do with the voice, or the country-boy slang. Whatever it is, there’s always been something interchangeable about them.
In his heyday, before he retired and moved to Arkansas and started dressing like the Cajun Chef, Dad wore plaid western shirts with pearlized snaps and carried a Parker ball point pen with blue ink next to the check book in his breast pocket. Sometimes he came home form work with butterscotch candies tucked in his denim jacket and I’d meet him at the van door all jumpy in collusion.
I got off easy I’ve been told, never having received a spanking or belt-whipping from the old man. Seems he could be hell on wheels if you crossed him. Later, he would brag to his mistress about never laying a hand on me while her kids, my expected every-other-weekend playmates, ran raging through his house threatening the well kept order.
During the week, Dad was Levis, plain black work shoes, and black steel lunch box. On the weekends he was brown cowboy boots, hat and punched-leather belt. Whatever he was wearing, if he wasn’t smiling his face looked sour, all scowly and pinched in the forehead. I worry for frown lines because of this.
“I was so ugly as a kid ma had to tie a steak around my neck to get the dog to play with me,” he’d say trying to rouse me. It’s no wonder I get a little nostalgic listening to Johnny Cash sing Country Trash: