Bull’s-eye: Getting to know my dad over darts

My dad and I have always shared a close bond (2015)

By: Abigail Calandra| Head Editor

April 2, 2020

It’s one o’clock in the afternoon on a Saturday; the soft lull of Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” accompanied with the sound of skateboards rolling down the driveway fill the background. It’s rare for my whole family to be home at this time, but COVID-19 is keeping us locked in. My dad says he’s enjoying this time, even if we are trapped and are just days away from biting each others’ heads off . He cracks open an IPA or what he calls his “aiming juice,” we’re about to play a game of darts. 101 specifically. The premise of the game is to count down from 101 ending at zero, no more no less. 

Although playing this game is nearly a daily occurance, there’s a twist this time: for the total number of points my dad gets per throw he’s required to tell me something about himself from that age, i.e, if he gets 18 points he has to tell me a memory from when he was 18. 

The first darts are thrown by me, my dart game is mediocre (maybe even worse), and I miss all but one.

My dad throws a 23. 78 points now left on the board. 

“I started working at Zengel Associates at 23,” he said. (It’s a small real estate appraisal office in Fresno, California.) “It pretty much laid the groundwork for the rest of my career,” he mentioned. “When we [he and my mom] decided we wanted to move out of Fresno, I offered to open a branch on the Central Coast. He said no, and that was it. I stuck a ‘For Sale’ sign in the front yard.” 

My dad and I at senior night (2019)

The game continues and his next throw is weak, even by my standards. He gets a nine. My dad’s parents got remarried when he was nine. He doesn’t remember much other than it took place in my great grandparent’s backyard and he “had a soccer game that day.”

We keep playing, at this point I’m so far behind and I’m missing the board almost every throw, but I’m slowly making my way closer to zero. It’s my dad’s turn again and he gets a 26. At 26, he and my mom bought a house on a street in Fresno called Briarwood. He considers that house to be “the one that most felt like home.” He says he did the wood floor in that house and “it looked cool.” 

On the next throw he gets a 39 and he’s got 4 points left to go. I’ve somehow weaseled myself down to only having 1 point left. 

My dad was 39 in 2013 and he can’t remember anything important that happened that year. We stop our game to go through pictures on his phone. He realizes that he went to Morro Bay for a surf trip with some of his best friends that year, a trip that’s now an annual occasion filled with good food and good surf. 

It’s my turn now. I get one point, bringing me to zero. I won, and I think I won in the dad department too. 

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