I believe it was Bill Cosby who had a routine talking about how fathers invest so much of their time in their sons becoming great athletes. They teach them how to tackle, how to throw, how to dribble, pass and shoot. They get them up early in the morning to train and risk some physical injury of their own in order for their boy to make it to the big time. And when their son is on TV playing in the Big Leagues, the NFL, or the NBA, what does the young man say? “Hi Mom!”
Well, I had my mom moment with my last post. It’s time to get some entertainment mileage out of dad. Please be advised that this entry comes with a Parental Advisory: Explicit Content warning. No, my dad was in no way a vulgar man; but like many great comics he occasionally let slip a foul word for effect. Who am I to judge? Heck, I laughed my butt off at so many of his stories and quips throughout my childhood and adolescence. I’d like to share some of them with you. (I’m guessing my family knows what’s coming…)
But first, I guess I really am the proverbial chip off the old block. I am a lot like my dad, especially when it comes to my twisted sense of humor. I even look like him, handsome fella that he is! About eight years ago one of my uncles (his next oldest brother) was giving me an odd look before asking, “How does it feel to know EXACTLY how you’ll look in thirty years?” This same uncle had to correct his ex-brother-in-law when that man saw me at a family funeral and piped up, “Wow, Bob hasn’t changed a bit!” Yep, we’re handsome young bucks, ladies – but, sorry, we’re both happily married!
Past employers have often said I use humor effectively when diffusing tense situation. I get that from my dad. How many times had my mother been very serious in addressing one or all of us when dad came in with the perfect one-liner for the situation? Our most famous story of such a situation involves my oldest brother playing a game on our Atari 2600 in the family room. Next to that room was our kitchen, where Mom was preparing something. Down the hall, passed the laundry area, passed the door to the basement, into the living room and up to the far, northwest corner sat Dad at his desk. My brother was losing whatever game he was playing. (Okay, before you Playstation nerds get all superior about someone losing an Atari game remember, back in my day they were tricky!) In his frustration my brother would slap his thigh and say, ” Oh crap.” And so it went on; beep-boop-beep, “oh crap” beep-boop-beep, “oh crap” beep-boop-beep, “OH CRAP!” My mother had had enough and thought it high time to lay down the law. “Will you tell your son to stop saying that word,” she called. Without getting up, my dad called across the house, “Jared, stop saying oh crap. You’re old enough to say oh shit now!” I always enjoyed watching mom try to hide the laughter by turning away from any witnesses in order to maintain some level of seriousness.
Another time occurred when we were a good bit younger. Mom had us boys in the family room for an important discussion on proper toilet etiquette. Apparently, one of us was balling up the TP and causing the toilet to clog. (We all silently denied, and to this day I believe it was a neighbor kid who visited often to be the culprit.) She went on in her “Mom” voice to explain the seriousness of the situation. She told us how to properly fold the paper so it wouldn’t clog the commode, adding, “You can’t even get yourself clean the other way.” In comedy, timing is everything; so that’s when Dad chimed in. “So, someone’s being a shitty asshole!” It’s a good thing Mom had already ingrained in our skulls the importance of the subject, because we were a lost audience after that.
Dad had a very quick wit, and rarely used such language. I think those two stand out because of the s-bomb. But, to show the effect he could have with a simple play on words, I give you the following example. My parents had a time-share with Walt Disney World and they let my wife and I use their points for our honeymoon. Not only that, but they set us up at the Hampton Inn on our wedding night and the next day until our flight to WDW. On the wedding day my dad got us checked in so we could focus on wedding preparations. Husbands, you know what I mean. The bride gets up at the butt-crack of dawn to scour off about 2 layers of skin in a scalding hot shower, then her hair gets professionally pulled, sprayed, pinned and shellacked, she gets shoved into a girdle barely big enough for a dachshund, her tires get rotated, the works all while nibbling on a light piece of toast before being enveloped in an exquisite gown of pure beauty. The husband wakes up one hour before showtime, scratches a few preferred body parts, shovels some CocoPuffs into his mouth, throws on a cheap rented tux then shuffles off to Buffalo. So, between the wedding and reception my dad pulls me aside to give me the room key – knowing that once the reception is over I’m off on a mission which no man is getting in the way of, if you know what I mean! When he hands me the key he warns me to be careful not to lose it among the dancing and hand-shaking. “As Confucius say,” he says, “newlywed who lose old key get no nookie!” Another groaner from Dad – memorable in that it was perfectly timed.
Dad was a pretty darn good father, and I’m glad he passed on his good looks and sense of humor to me. I’m especially thankful that my daughters inherited his brains; sorry it skipped over me for some odd reason, but at least they can reap the rewards of intellect. And it’s great to see him laugh and enjoy his role as Pop-pop! I guess all I can say is this.
Dad, you’re my dad, Dad. (sniff-sniff) And I love you, man!