Thursday, September 1, 2011

The men in my life

by: Joelle Charbonneau

My father’s birthday was this past Monday. He passed away almost three years ago after a long battle with cancer. It sucks that he’s gone and I can’t begin to tell you how much I miss him.

I guess it isn’t surprising that my father’s birthday made me stop and think about the men that have influenced my life. My husband. My son. My father. My grandfather. All of them love(d) to laugh. My father and grandfather were very different types, but they both loved humor. So maybe they would be flattered that I have chosen to create very distinctive grandfather and father characters for Rebecca Robbins. Dad didn’t appear in the first book. In fact, unlike my father who was very much present in my life, Rebecca hasn’t seen her father in years. As for her grandfather, Pop – well, Pop loves life and laughing just as much as my grandfather did. Dare I say more? Here – let me show you what I mean:

Sprawled on the ground, Pop blinked up at me. “What happened?”

I helped him get into a sitting position while taking deep breaths to calm my panic. “You fainted.”

“Fainted?” Pop snorted. “I’ve never fainted in my life.”

The cantankerous sound of my grandfather’s voice did my heart good. Pop was okay. Knowing that, I was able to smile.

“Then what are you doing lying on the asphalt?” I asked, trying to hide my amusement.

Pop sputtered for a moment then announced, “It’s because of these damn pants.”

Pop struggled to get to his feet, and I helped haul him upright. Indignant, he said, “The women at the Center told me I had to wear tight pants in my Elvis act. Well, now I know why Elvis died so young. He probably hit is head after losing circulation in his . . . you know.”

I did know, and I would have been a lot happier if I didn’t. Thinking about my grandfather’s . . . well, it made me a whole lot more uncomfortable than the sweltering heat.

“Pop,” I said, deliberately averting my eyes as he adjusted the crotch of his pants. “While I would love nothing more than to blame your pants, they aren’t the reason you passed out.”

Pop blinked at me. “They’re not? Huh? You think it was the heat.”

“I think it was saying my father is coming to town.” Pop’s face went white. I took a step closer in case he went down again. “Look, Pop, it’s no wonder you’re upset. You and Stan don’t have the best relationship.”

Neither did I. Maybe it was genetic.

Pop shook his gnarled fist. “I want to kill the hairy little wart. The man deserves it for breaking you and your mother’s hearts. Heck, his coming to town is a good thing. Gives me a chance to get some of my friends together and rough him up.”

Something told me the septuagenarian Untouchables wasn’t going to scare Stanley Robbins, but what did I know. My father might have a fear of disgruntled old guys.

Smiling at the bizarre image of Pop in a zoot suit, I said, “You’re not going to rough up Stan.”

“Why? You want to do it?”

Tempting. Too bad I had to take the moral high ground.

“No,” I said with regret. My absentee father kind of deserved roughing up. “No one is going to touch him. In fact,” I added, hoping for once my father’s faithless personality hadn’t changed, “I doubt we even see him. When was the last time Stan actually did what he said he was going to do?”

Pop squinted into the sunlight, thinking about my words. “You’re right,” he said with a frown. “That man ain’t never going to set foot in this town. Too bad. I was starting to like the idea of giving him a good butt-whooping. A couple of kicks to the keister would knock some much needed sense into him.”

He straightened his shoulders and took a shuffling step down the sidewalk, content to leave the topic of my wayward father behind. Come to think of it, I was too. It was easier than dealing with the disappointment that always came along with Stan Robbins.

Looking back, Pop asked, “Are you coming?”


“To see Jimmy. I’d think you’d want to talk to him.” Pop smiled. “Seeing as how you’re the detective on his case.”

While writing Pop and Rebecca’s dad, Stan, doesn’t make me miss my own father and grandfather less, it does make me smile. I hope their antics in SKATING OVER THE LINE (Sept. 27th, 2011 EEEK!) make you smile, too!


  1. I too had a wonderful father, with a terrific sense of humor. I miss him every single day. Glad we were blessed with such fantastic Dads.

    Love the scene with the Grandfather -- good luck with the book launch!


  2. I'm only partway through the first one, so I was afraid to read the excerpt!! I don't want any spoilers!

    I'm sorry about your Dad. We lost my father in law to cancer recently and it left a big hole in the family. Everyone may say "Hi Mom!" when the camera is on them, but Dad's are just as important.

    Have fun counting down to pub day!

  3. My grandfather (aka Paw Paw) was the funniest guy! I miss him every single day (but thank him for giving me my crazy sense of humor and my love of puns!). My husband reminds me so much of him. In fact, when we were first dating, I noticed Ed had a few quirks that were eerily like Paw Paw. I took it as a sign!

    Good luck with the new book, Joelle! You know you've got a cheering section here at Stiletto! I'm sure it'll do mah-velous, dah-link! :-)

  4. Thanks guys! You rock. And the UPS guy just delivered a finished copy of the book into my hot little hands. How cool is that?

  5. Joelle, as you know I loved Skating around the Law, and I'm reading the ARC of Skating Over the Line. I saw that you dedicated your book to Tony. Is that your dad? I thought, how talented you are that you can make these characters so dissimilar to the men who truly influenced you. Rebecca clearly is estranged from Stan (love that she calls him that). And she adores her grandfather -- and so do all women actually. But your talent is just amazing. What a gift for characterization.

    And FWIW, I don't think I can EVER look at a box of Cascade again without thinking of Rebecca's Grandfather again. Hysterical!

  6. Donnell - yes, my father was Tony:) And I'm so glad you like the characters. I have to admit the Cascade moment is a particular favorite of mine:)

  7. Dad's are great. Mine's been gone a long while, but he always thought I could do anything,