Tonight I begin a Father-Daughter Night series at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Over the next two weekends I’ll do five nights of shows with the irrepressible Bob Sarlatte hosting the stage. Bob’s a Saint Ignatius High School
grad. I went to school at Bellarmine. My wife and I have three daughters. Our youngest, Alana Rose, is in her second year at Seattle University.
I can hear the intro now, “Live, on stage, tonight, for one show only, the only all Jesuit educated entertainment to be found west of St. Mary’s Cathedral!”
Alana was raised backstage. When only seven we landed in Phoenix at 4 in the morning, Alana told me to get the luggage and she’d go get the cab! When late while driving between the smallest towns in Wyoming Alana had the best eye for the perfect spot to pull over and park the truck and trailer. She liked to park and sleep near rivers.
She has developed a keen eye for variety entertainment. She knows what makes Flying Bob so appealing and appreciates the staccato rat-a-tat-tat comic musings of Rhys Thomas. She is also quick to spot a hole in an entertainers game. And did I mention that her concision of explaining the plot to a movie is preternatural.
She has worked with me at the Oregonand Ohio State Fair’s. She has traveled across Western Canada. She thinks the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival rocks, and that The Country Fair is sacrament.
She’s danced since forever; modern dance. It’s kind of difficult to pick her up and carry her on my hip like I once did. I was away in Yuma performing at a festival (Hillbilly Willy aptly described this gig as part of the Bleak Tour) and missed her birthday when she was seven years old. That still makes my heart ache. But, the road isn’t just a place to work and travel, it is also a place you go and miss things, like daughters growing up, and birthdays, and helping her off to school.
Still, she’s a trouper. She understands backstage life. She knows what we go through offstage to put our best efforts out onstage. She has a solid gin game. Likes to play the out of state license plate game, has been introduced to the fine art of the game horse by El Gleno Grande, and has dined on white linen in the dining tent at Carson and Barnes Circus just before being invited to go feed the elephants with the trainer who promised her a ride.
I love that kid. I love all my daughters. I love the sound of that word, “Dad…” I owe most of my humanity to those women. Oh, and one more girl, she’s old now, and I owe a debt to her too. Thanks Lacey. You’ve been there for me when it has counted.
BANKRUPT HEART THE SECOND NOVEL
“Your hair is getting long.” She brushed it back.
“Last time it was this long you were still a little girl?” Ry said.
“Was I a little girl?”
“If I was carrying you in my arms backstage, then you were still a little, tiny,
“I don’t remember…”
“You were busy growing up, too busy, too grown up, too soon…”
Sophia exercised care as she brushed her father’s hair. It was soothing, peaceful, ritual, a
father-daughter intimacy. They had a knack for hanging out backstage. “Your
hair is definitely getting thinner up here dad.” She smiled, wasn’t being
“Yeah, well that’s life. It comes, it goes. If I had stayed in radio, nobody would
Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith