Dad’s Best Friend

by: LW


There was no “OCD” when we were kids
It was just “NUTS” to wash your hands until they were raw
And to fear being alone in your own home.

My sister confided in me a secret
She kept from me for many years
A family friend stopped by the house one day
(She was about thirteen years old I guess)
She was home alone, but she let him in
No reason to fear.

We called him “uncle” – dad’s best friend
When we were little girls
We would take off our shoes and stand on his feet
So he would dance us around the room
At family gatherings

How did he know she would be alone today?
And why did he smell of booze?
Cornering her in the kitchen
He exposed himself
He touched her in secret places
I didn’t want to know more

“Don’t tell anyone” – except she did
And our parents kept silent
Cautioned her not even to tell ME

But they ended the relationship
They felt bad for his wife,
“Poor woman, having to live with that man”
She wouldn’t understand

Why she was being shut out
After thirty-some years of friendship

You don’t talk about this kind of thing
You hush it up, push it out of your mind
Make it go away

But secrets can do crazy things to you
They can make you want to wash the dirt off your hands
Even if you just washed them five minutes ago
Even if it hurts to wash them
Because they are always red and raw

Secrets can make you afraid to be home alone
So your parents can’t go anywhere over night
And everyone “tsk-tsks” about how silly it is
That a woman thirty years old
Won’t get her own apartment
And learn to live alone.