Across town, Mike-Mike rang the doorbell to Franco’s condo. As soon as his sleepy-eyed friend opened the door and let him inside, he asked the question that he’d driven all this way to ask in person.
“Why wasn’t you at the banquet today?”
Franco’s eyes widened as his memory was instantly jogged. Then he winced. “I forgot all about that banquet, man.”
“You forgot about your own son’s banquet?” Mike-Mike frowned with disapproval.
“I got caught up with two twin freaks last night,” Franco said, offering that weak excuse as the reason he let his son Farrell down today. “In fact, they just left the crib ten minutes ago.” He chuckled.
“If this had been your oldest boy, would you have remembered then?” Mike-Mike asked, referring to Franco Jr., who was the first of many children his friend had. A child by the only woman Franco had ever loved.
Franco’s laughter instantly dried up. “I wouldn’t have had to remember. Deborah would have sent me a reminder text about the banquet during the week and given me a wakeup call this morning.”
“So because Charlonda didn’t do the same, does that mean you can’t remember an important event in your third son’s life all on your own?” Mike-Mike asked, not cutting his friend any slack about being a negligent father. “Especially since you seem quite capable of remembering all the important dates associated with the game.”
“I remember anything related to money. Money that I use to make sure all my kids are well taken care of, mind you,” Franco said defensively.
“Don’t get me wrong. I ain’t knocking you as a provider,” Mike-Mike said, forcing himself to be fair. Especially since he knew about Franco’s foster care background that had been devoid of positive mother and father figures. “But you really need to step your game up when it comes to spending more time with your kids. You can’t keep counting on Deborah or any of your other baby-mamas to keep you in the loop. As a father, you need to take the initiative to stay in the loop all on your own.”
“Says a man that ain’t got no kids,” Franco retorted.
“That might be true, but I’m also a man with a deadbeat father. I know how your son felt today getting an award without his daddy there to congratulate him. How painful it was to watch some of his peers chilling with their daddies today. To see his daddy’s friends there, but no sign of the man that seeded him. I bet you don’t even know that Farrell earned the MVP trophy this year.”
Franco hung his head. Mike-Mike had him there. He hadn’t known about his third son’s exceptional athletic ability. Franco hadn’t been to any of Farrell’s games, hadn’t communicated effectively with the boy’s mother in months, and had missed today’s banquet.
“How do you suggest I make it up to Farrell?” Franco asked in a humbler tone now.
“Get yourself cleaned up, go over to the boy’s house with a new video game, and stay there to play it with him for a few hours. Don't forget to rave about his big trophy while you're there.”
“Yes, you’ll be amazed by how much the simple things mean to a child,” Mike-Mike advocated, speaking from the heart and from personal experience.
Franco nodded. “I’m on it. Thanks for snatching the slack out of me, man,” he told his friend with a grateful smile.
Mike-Mike grinned. “Anytime, playa. Anytime.” Satisfied that he’d done what he came here to do, he headed to the nursing home to see his grandmother.
© 2008 by Suprina Frazier