Sunday Stories: “Who’s Your Daddy?”

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Who’s Your Daddy?
by Rick Whitaker

for Dennis Snell

The biology of the sex act dictates that each of us has one and only one father; but biology does not necessarily identify the man whose sperm gave each of us life. Blood and DNA tests can confirm or rule out a candidate, but it has always been possible, given more than one man in the vicinity, for a new person to be, for all practical purposes, fatherless. My biological father, according to my mother, is either one man or another, but not anyone else—Rodney Whitaker, my mother’s second husband, or Richard Spencer, whom I’ve never met (and who was married to someone else when I was conceived). I was born with the name of my mother’s first husband, Hardin. My mother has had seven last names: Cooper, Hardin, Whitaker, Durham, Temple, Seaver, and Keller. My brother is Whitaker’s child, my older sister is Hardin’s, my younger sister is Durham’s. A half-brother I’ve never met is the son of Richard Spencer, one of my mom’s between-husband boyfriends circa 1967 and, it turns out, my biological father. This was confirmed by 23 & Me introducing me to Rich, my half-brother. We are not, so far, very close: I sent a message to which he has not replied. Rich and Rick, sons of Richard. I asked him, via 23 & Me, if his father was alive and whether they’d enjoyed a warm and happy relationship. I just wanted to know if he was a more decent man than all the other bullshit dads I’ve had to put up with. But since Rich hasn’t answered, my instinct says no, he probably wasn’t. In any case, I’m 61% Irish. That’s something to celebrate. James Joyce was Irish. So was Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde, who wrote my motto: The only thing worth living for is pleasure; nothing ages like happiness. (Though pleasure gets old, too, alas.)

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