The X Page: A Storytelling Workshop

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An English Guy

by Lina Alsafi


“Why do you have to be an English guy!” I angrily said to my dad the second I got into the car.

My dad isn’t English. He is actually Iraqi. So I should explain why I said this to him. 

In my culture, an English person is someone who is always on time and sticks to the schedule. People in my culture are usually relaxed about time. But my dad was precise and wanted everything to be on schedule.

We were a family of four women. As the only guy, if we were heading to an event, he would be first one ready and kept reminding us to hurry and be on time, which was kind of impossible! 

On this day, when I was 16 years old, I had been at my friend’s birthday party. It was an amazing party. I met a lot of my friends there, and we were having so much fun I didn’t notice the time.

Suddenly the doorbell rang. I knew it was my dad even before my friend’s mom came and said “Lina, it is your dad!” 

The invitation said the party was supposed to end at 7 p.m. and it was 7 p.m. now. But the party wasn’t over.

This is when I got into the car and called my dad an English guy. I can remember it like it was yesterday. The street was dark and I could hear the news from the car radio, which he had to lower just to listen to me complaining!

“What happened,” he asked. “You didn’t have fun? Was it a dull party?”

“No. It was perfect,” I said. “But you came early! The party hasn’t finished yet. We haven’t had the chance to sing to her. And the most important thing: We haven’t eaten the cake!”

“But I didn’t come early. I just came on time,” he said.

“I know they said it will end at 7:00,” I replied. “But that did not mean you have to be here exactly at 7:00.”

I was angry but he answered me in a calm way. He even offered to wait so I could stay longer.

Then I started to feel bad because he was tired and came a long way to pick me up on time. I know he worked hard and wanted to go home and rest.

“No,” I said. “I can’t do that to you. You are tired. And what will you do here waiting for me?”

“Don’t worry about me,” he said. “I will read a book or keep listening to the radio.”

Looking back I know that he was exhausted and he was dreaming to go home and get some rest. But he gave up a nice evening at home so that I could have fun at a birthday party.

I lost my father 26 years ago. At that time, in the car that night, what he did seemed like a small thing. But now I think maybe he was planning to leave me with a remarkable memory so I could feel his love and share it with you almost 30 years later.

I feel ashamed I spoke to my dad this way but I am proud that I had a dad like him.

And I’m sorry that I lost him so early!