Dad Doing Taxes

It’s impossible for me to do my taxes without thinking about my dad. Growing up, Tax Day was a scary time in the Clark household. My dad would lock himself in the office for hours, while my mom did her best to keep my sister and I quiet/as far away as possible.

This was hard for two reasons:

First, because my sister and I were very loud. Our favorite games were scream-singing The Lion King and The Music Man, and trying to break each others’ bones. Once, we danced so hard that Jessie threw up in my ear.

Second, because at that age, I found it nearly impossible to stay away from the office. I loved the computer. I’d spend hours up there, curating quotes for my AIM profile, playing Monkey Island, asking Jeeves for pictures of Vin Diesel, previewing ringtones for the cellphone I didn’t have, scanning photos of myself into the computer and using Microsoft Paint to give myself cleavage, etc.

I LOVED the computer. But the picture my mom painted of “Dad doing taxes” put the fear of God in me, so I stayed away.

“What are these ‘taxes,’ and what have they done to my father?!” I’d cry as I imagined him up there, grumbling, cursing, kicking my beloved scanner.

A few hours later, he’d emerge from the office, bleary-eyed and pale, mumbling incoherently about “quick books” and “that damn cat” throwing up somewhere.

I go into all of this because now, as a full-grown tax paying adult, I realize I have become my dad. I learned this as proper tax paying behavior. So when it comes time for me to file, I repeat what I have learned.

This became abundantly clear yesterday when, after growling at 1099s for two hours straight, I looked up to find Heather staring at me, eyes wide with a mix of fear and concern.

“I think you should take a walk,” she said. “You scare me when you get like this.”

Maybe she saw in me what I saw in my dad. Or maybe she wanted to Paint her cleavage in peace. Either way, I took her advice and got some fresh air.

While I blame my dad for this behavior, I’m not mad at him. He’s taught me a lot of lessons. Some – like how to change a tire or make rice – I’ve conveniently forgotten. Others, like self-sufficiency, storytelling and how to make Beer “Gatorade,” I hold dear.

My dad teaching my sister Jessie (left) and me how to fish.

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