My Dinner With Gary

We both spend 5 minutes pretending to stare at a Nandos menu
even though we both know what we’re going to order. We’ve spent
9 years not talking to each other so what’s a few more seconds?
I guess I got my stubbornness from him.
Inherited it along with his last name and oversized feet and
before I can make any more comparisons he speaks
and all I can think of is
he doesn’t sound like me.
But he’s offering to pay so I let it slide.
Orders the same thing, even down to the heat and it’s
worrying how normal this all is.

We trade small talk inbetween mouthfuls.
Tactical. Skipping away from big questions, and avoiding bigger answers.
We’re not there yet. At least I didn’t think so but he asks
how Mum is. And I’m not sure how to answer.
I’m not sure how much of an answer he wants or
how much I’m allowed to give.
‘Fine’ seems to suffice. I even throw in
‘Good’ to add more colour and he seems satisfied.
He doesn’t pry. Just accepts it. It’s like he expected it.

We’re halfway through now and he brings up Damari. Calls him
my brother. I chose not to correct him and say half.
He says he’s good in school like me,
says he’s creative like me. Says he likes films like me.
He keeps talking but I don’t remember what he says, instead
I’m thinking back to a month ago when he posted a picture of
Damari holding up his latest drawing. Captioned it with how proud he
was of him.
We may have a lot of things in common but
I don’t think a Dad is one of them.

One quarter left, and he’s telling me he’s tried to find me for years.
Tried to track me down through friends and old acquaintances,
testing old phone numbers and addresses and I guess we’re out of
small talk now. He says he never gave up, never forgot about me
and before I can even question him he takes 2 year old me
out of his wallet. I’m crinkled from the years but
still smiling. And so is he because he’s finally found me
and I don’t want to deny him this moment.
We ask the couple on the table beside us to take our picture.
That night, he’ll post it on his wall and caption it
“Happy birthday to my eldest son Tyrone
hope you have a blessed day. We have alot of catching up to do.”
I don’t think he’ll ever be my father,
but I guess I’ll be his son.

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