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Official Article

Divorced Dad Memories

By the time my parents got divorced in the early 90's, I was just one of dozens of other elementary school kids who now spent their time between 2 different households. While I would have preferred to have my "parental units" together in a single happy home, there was a bright side to their split, more time with Dad! When I was younger my father was definitely around, but did spend a lot of extra hours at the office going over contracts and "putting out fires". 


So the benefit of the divorce was that we now had weekly appointments for "Dad n' Son Time" that I always looked forward to. It worked out that Thursday nights, plus every other weekend we got together for fun adventures and memory making. Here's a few of my favorite times spent with my Divorced Dad.

Dinners At BeBop Burgers


The 80's and early 90's were full of nostalgia for the 1950's in pop culture. Since my dad was a high schooler during that era of doo-wop and drive-in movies, he often took me to an awesome retro diner style restaurant called BeBop Burgers in Irvine, CA for a night of fun. I loved this place. The walls were covered with publicity photos of James Dean, Doris Day and Jerry Lewis, while the wait staff served us in vintage uniforms of the day. This was before Johnny Rockets pimped out the concept in every mall, so it was still a novelty.

As we enjoyed our burgers, fries and milk shakes, an old school disc jockey would spin records by Little Richard, Elvis Presley and Leslie Gore as if we were at a high school sock hop. They also had Polaroid photo area set-up where you could pose in a classic convertible with a beach side drive-in movie backdrop, which I was pretty obsessed with. Mostly I enjoyed the idea of experiencing the fun my Dad had during his youth and imagining what mischief he might have gotten into.

Comic Book Store Hero

My comic book obsession hit hard in 1992, which was the height of the comics boom with the newly formed Image Comics feeding the frenzy, as well as the Death of Superman event getting news coverage and encouraging the speculator market. On Saturdays, Dad usually had work to do at his office in Anaheim, CA and lucky for me there were 3 different comic book shops nearby along a 5 mile of stretch of Harbor Blvd. Dad was more than happy to bankroll an afternoon of reading and willingly played chauffeur.


Comics Unlimited was my favorite, in addition to a massive rack of new comics and several rows of back issue bins, they had lots of posters, figures and other super hero paraphernalia. I was big into the Reign of the Supermen storyline, wanting to solve the mystery of who was in fact the resurrected Man of Steel and the new Robin mini-series had captured my imagination as well. But I also enjoyed grabbing a few older titles like Marvel's original What If..? series to ring up at the checkout counter next to an issue of Spider-Man 2099.


In 1993, Mile High Comics opened a superstore down the street and this massive castle of comics was overwhelming. In addition to endless rows of back issue bins, they also held live auctions for collectible comics and on one occasion my Dad played hero to me with his magic money clip. Though I never got too heavy into the collector mentality, Spider-Man had been my childhood favorite, so when the auctioneer held up the first issue of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man and asked for bids, I gave Dad a nudge. 


$50 later, I was the owner of a piece of comic book history and still cherish it to this day. Not because of any monetary value (honestly, it was the 2nd tier Spidey title of that era), it's treasured status came more from the fact that my Dad was willing to participate in my hobby to the point of shelling out cash for something I'm sure seemed (and was) frivolous. Every trip to the comic store filled me with gratitude for having such a cool Dad.

Car Ride Radio


In California you drive the freeways constantly, so my Dad and I always had talk radio of some sort on in the background, especially KFI AM 640. National hosts like psychiatrist Dr. Laura Schlessinger or right wing blowhard, Rush Limbaugh were always jabbering away at us and I also got a kick out of the opinionated voices of local talent like Bill Handel or Stephanie Miller. Dad knew I was becoming a fan and surprised me one day with a collection of publicity photos from the station. I couldn't believe it, I could now attach a face the voices, it was amazing!


In the evenings we would switch the radio in my Dad's 1966 Mercedes over to KNX 1070, a local news station that played old radio shows. He had often told me about his childhood evenings spent listening to the adventures of mysterious crime fighter, The Shadow and now I got to experience the stories for myself along with him. We even bought cassette tape collections so we could listen together on long road trips to see my grandparents. As a result, I eventually started recording my own radio dramas with friends in the same style.


Lucky for me, in 1994 The Shadow was about to make his big screen debut in a movie starring Alec Baldwin, so I got to join the official fan club, buy the board game and most exciting of all, go to the theater with Dad. I've kept the ticket stubs all these years because this movie going experience was the convergence of our one shared interest and a special moment of bonding.

Must See TV and Chinese Food


Many family memories revolve around meal times, but for me this one became a weekly tradition for almost a decade. Eventually my Dad moved one town over to a place called Tustin and just around the corner from his new place was a strip mall take-out restaurant called Irvine Chinese Food. After tasting their amazing Kung Pao Chicken I began asking to eat there every time Dad picked me up on Thursdays, I couldn't get enough. It became a weekly event and soon the owners knew us by name, happily welcoming us each time we walked through the door (that is an actual photo of the manager I took). It felt like we were the Chinese Food equivalent of Norm from Cheers. Speaking of prime time television icons...


The other part of the tradition was to take my Kung Pao to Dad's house and slowly devour it while watching a cavalcade of 90's sitcoms. So what was on? The evening always started off with a new episode of The Simpsons, then I would click over to NBC's Must See TV line up which consisted at various points of Mad About You, The Single Guy with Jonathan Silverman, Seinfeld, Boston Common, Caroline In the City, Suddenly Susan and Friends. It was good food and good times I could count on. This continued up to the year 2000, even after my Dad moved out of that neighborhood. 


You see, once I got into high school, hanging with friends and other after school activities kept me from going over to Dad's house as often. Yet, he kept the tradition alive by delivering the Kung Pao chicken to my door every Thursday. Can you believe that? All he would get for his efforts was a quick, "Hi" and "Thank You" from a hungry, self-centered teenager, but he was always there without fail. That's love, man.


There were a lot of other good times too, like our trip to a DeLorean car show, eating at Planet Hollywood, visiting the Calico Ghost Town and Dad's special German pancake recipe, but I think you get the point. If divorce can have an upside, it's that a parent can make more time for their kids and build the relationship even stronger. My Dad did and I'll always be thankful to him for making our quality time extra special.


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Timothy Zero Posted on Jul 16, 2017 at 11:24 PM

I am happy to read a positive divorce story since a lot of them out there are terrible and very sad (like my own). I really did enjoy your article though! Thanks for sharing!

Hoju Koolander Posted on Jun 22, 2017 at 02:35 AM

I had a feeling this would hit close to home for a lot of us. My story is far from unique as there are many great "Divorced Dads" out there. My Dad just happens to be the best ;)

@Vaporman87 It's awesome that you got a new brother you liked out of the divorce. Is he the one in that hilarious video series of you trying to assassinate your younger brother and​ vice versa?

@RickAceRhodes That is the dream of so many kids of divorced​ parents, what a story.

@NLogan Your Dad story of video store drama is one of my favorites an his quote is such a "Dadism". Apparently Tarantula has one money pose and he's sticking with it.

Vaporman87 Posted on Jun 21, 2017 at 10:31 PM

@Rick: What a great thing that your parents eventually reconciled their differences. Spared you a lot of uncertainty and sleepless nights. If there was one thing that bothered me the most about my parents' divorce, it was that I no longer had my Dad around to make me feel safe in my own home.

NLogan Posted on Jun 21, 2017 at 07:41 PM

I also listened to the shadow on cassette tape collections with my uncle. "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!" Followed by this menacing laugh. We also eat German Pancakes at my house. I get the corners.

Rick Ace Rhodes Posted on Jun 21, 2017 at 07:41 PM

While I can't relate fully, there was a brief period in my life where I went through this. My parents split up for a period of time back when I was in third grade. They eventually got back together, but it was a weird period none the less. I remember sitting in bed one night, a night that my father returned home after I went to bed. I was pretending to sleep while listening to my parents in the living room have an extremely emotional discussion. I just spent the entire night that night thinking about what the future held for my family and how the life I had up until that moment was likely over.

Soon after that is when I started having days out with my dad on the weekend. From the morning to night he would take me out to eat, see a movie, go shopping and just do other activities that he knew I would enjoy. While I enjoyed every day I had with him, deep down on the inside I was upset knowing that this was likely going to be the new normal for me.

I guess I’m a lucky kid in this type of situation, my parents got back together eventually. Eventually the entire incident became a thing of the past and was completely forgotten by everyone.

NLogan Posted on Jun 21, 2017 at 07:34 PM

I also have this issue of Amazing Spider-Man that looks suspiciously similar to yours.


NLogan Posted on Jun 21, 2017 at 06:56 PM

I can relate. I too was an every other weekend visit to dad's kid. Freddy's in the mountain states is a cool 50s joint to get a burger. You already know I love comics. My dad, my twin and I all had our weekly rituals or as my dad put it, "Let's rent a pizza, and buy a movie". We did Shopping at Food 4 Less with the grocery total being the same week after week, Blockbuster Video until we were banned and then some no name ma and pa video store, miniature golf, arcades, moview theaters, and Tae Kwon Do.

Vaporman87 Posted on Jun 21, 2017 at 10:18 AM

Thanks for sharing these special memories with your father post-divorce. I know exactly how you felt. I too had to deal with the divorce of my parents at around the same age. It was a difficult time, but it was nice to have the time specifically devoted to doing things together. I lived with my mom until I was old enough to make my own choice of who to live with, and since my mom was moving to another town and I had no interest in losing my friends and making new ones, I moved in with my dad.

But I can still remember that first time I visited dad following the split. He took us into town and bought me a Mantis figure from G.C. Murphy's, then we went and watched Silver Bullet. I remember nothing about that movie, but I clearly recall that it was the film we watched.

I benefited from the divorce in many ways, but most of all with an expanded family. I earned a brother that I am close to even today, with my dad once again divorced. I met many new people I would have otherwise never known, and experienced new things. Sure it was tough on me, but I don't think I would go back and change anything in regard to their split.

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