Stuffed in the trunk of his car, my dad, Pete Toscano, always stows several dozen loaves of bread, packages of english muffins, boxes of doughnuts and bags of bagels.
He buys the stuff wholesale then ferries it around with him handing it out randomly to anyone he meets. Whatever is left over he “feeds to the animals”, a nightly furry crew of skunks, foxes, deer, cats and the occasional black bear that lumber onto my parents’ New York Catskill property. Then the animals get their carb fix.
My dad turns 75 this month. A Marine veteran of the Korean War (who stands opposed to the current Iraqi War of terrorism), he uses every opportunity to hand out bread, wisdom and one-liners.
Some dad classics,
“Stand Up for Jesus! Now sit down for Christ’s sake.”
Referring to the outcome of a night of partying with marine buddies, “Yeah, we got hooty-toot.”
As my 96 year old grandmother tells us that when we eat dinner, angels come and settle under the table to bless us. My father chirps in, “Sure Ma, then you fart and the angels fly out the room.”
When after 17 years of trying to become straight and I told him that it did not work and that I am still gay, dad didn’t miss a beat,
“Well son, you can’t make a fish fly.”
(which inspired the title of Tom Murray’s film)
Last fall, at a Marine gathering (these guys get together all the time to drink, plan fundraisers for Christmas toys-for-tots, and to swap war stories), someone started telling gay jokes.
Now my dad is a joker and loves a good laugh, but something struck him. He stood up to full height (okay he’s only 5 feet tall, an oversized hobbit really) and said, “Cut that shit out. My son is gay and he is a great kid.”
Pete, the joker. Pete, the marine. Pete, the funny bread man. My dad, he stood up for me, for all of us.
Queer allies come in all shapes and sizes.