"Stepmother?" I sez to him. "I don't have a stepmother." And then I dredged up a distant memory and recalled that, oh yeah, my dad remarried when I was in high school.
To 'splain that: this information was not at the forefront of my mind because I have not seen or spoken to my father in twenty years. My last communication from him was something like eight years ago when he sent me an incoherent letter complaining that my mom was having the government dock his social security benefits for back child support and wanting me to do something about it.
Now, this is the man who took off when I was three and on our occasional father-daughter visits during my childhood did his very best to assure me that I simply wasn't good enough at...anything and that my sole purpose in existing was to take care of him when he got old, while also asserting that the Chinese were the superior people and every other race was patently inferior. On the infrequent occasions that he's tried to contact me since I became an adult, his communications have all been clumsy attempts to manipulate me into doing something for him, usually involving money.
Lessee, psychologically abusive bigot tries to use the fact that we share some DNA to manipulate me. Again. So, yeah, I ignored the letter and hadn't heard from him since. But this whole being phoned out of the blue by a friend of my stepmother's, and then subsequently by her, is all new. My first thought was: "Is my father dead? Dying? Really sick?"
But no. Seems not. Probably. More 'splainy: there is a massive language barrier in play as neither my stepmother's friend nor my stepmother speak English natively, and Matthew is, erm, not good with accents. And since I haven't decided whether I want to speak to any of these people yet, all information is, by necessity, filtered through his limited understanding of their fractured English. But, according to him, Stepmother says that she called because she wanted me to get in contact with Dad because it's Chinese New Year.
And with regard to the friend-of-stepmother thing, seems that friend works in some governmental place and so Stepmother asked him to track me down.
And again I say, WTF?
1. My father has my address. I know this, because he mailed a letter to me here.
2. I am plastered across the Internet. I'm a writer. I have a website. Google my name, there's my website. Granted, when I married I changed my name, but I sent my dad an announcement when I got married, and also, if you Google my maiden name, it comes up with my address. And if you Google my address, it comes up with, tah dah, my website. I understand that folks of my parents' generation may not be as Internet savvy as subsequent generations, but I'm really not hard to find.*
3. Why is Stepmother (and friend) trying to contact me instead of Dad?
So I am flummoxed. A lot. To the point that I couldn't sleep last night. And I couldn't figure out why this was bugging me so much until after much insomnia-induced rumination. I think I'm freaked out because for a moment, I seriously thought my dad was either dead or dying. And hell, he still might be—language barrier and all. And I honestly don't know how I feel about the prospect, and it's something I will eventually have to deal with. If I end up feeling upset, why will it distress me? If I don't feel anything, will that bother me? Should I feel anything? Do I want to feel anything? Gah!
Thanks, Dad. What I really need right now is more stress because, y'know, I haven't had enough of it lately.
* I thought about friends locking this post, but since the relatives in question couldn't figure out how to email me via my website, I think it's unlikely that they'll discover my blog.