You know that Twitter-feed-turned-book-turned-website-turned-TV-show-(briefly), Shit My Dad Says? I am convinced that I could have (nay, should have) come up with the concept first. I would have been rich and famous already, because I gotta tell ya, my dad has come up with some real gems over the years.
“I love your parents,” Tara says. “They’re hilarious.”
Take the other night, for example. We had them over to our place for dinner. Went all out, too – we made grilled Peruvian lime chicken, mushroom risotto, salad, and a homemade huckleberry pie – which has nothing to do with my story, but I’m so freakin’ proud of that meal I just had to mention it. Anyway. We served the pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and my parents were talking about how they like to microwave their ice cream. And then my dad took it a step farther and announced that he microwaves his cereal every morning.
“You microwave your cereal?” I asked, incredulous.
“That’s right. Otherwise, the milk is too cold and it hurts my teeth.”
“For sixteen seconds.”
“Hold on. Sixteen seconds? Why not fifteen, or twenty?”
“Sixteen is exactly long enough.”
“That’s weird, dad.”
“No, it’s not. I push the button for 30 seconds, and stop it when it reaches 14. It’s perfect.”
So. Let me get this straight. Not only does my dad microwave his cereal, but he does so for an oddly specific period of time – and on top of that, he feels it’s too much trouble to push two buttons (1 and 6) and instead pushes one button (30 seconds), carefully watches the microwave until :14 is displayed, and then pushes another button (stop)? Doesn’t all that extra work negate any trouble he’s saved by pushing the 30-second button in the first place?
And he gives me grief for wanting a Big Wheel. Whatever!
My dad’s got a handy list of phrases suitable for many occasions, many of which I now find myself using. I guess this just goes to show the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! Here are a few of my favorites.
- “It’s better to have and not need, than to need and not have.” Let’s say you’re going to the beach in June. It’s sunny and 80 degrees at home. Should you bring along a sweatshirt? My dad would grab one out of the closet while regaling the room with this quote. It’s true, and has become a mantra of sorts for Tara and I. Anytime we’re on the fence about something, we remember my dad’s wisdom and end up taking the cautionary approach. It’s much better to have a sweatshirt in the backseat of the car on the off chance that a stiff breeze picks up off the ocean, than to sit on the beach shivering uncontrollably for three hours.
- “Old age is hell.” This one started when a family member, at the ripe old age of 30, started suffering from myriad health woes. Ever since, anytime we scraped our knees, stubbed our toes, got a paper cut, or suffered from a headache, we’d trot out that line. And then, last year, my gallbladder revolted and I spent six nights in the hospital. You know what? Old age IS hell!
- “A bite of meat, a bite of bread.” My dad’s idea of proper dining etiquette; this actually originated with my grandmother, who would declare that, when eating, you should always vary between food groups. Don’t gobble up all your meatloaf and then tackle the roll; take a bite of meat, followed by a bite of bread.
- “Look at that horse’s ass!” or “What a horse’s ass!” Whenever we pass a horse trailer with the rear end of an equine visible, my dad would invariably utter this. As kids, we thought it was the funniest thing in the world. As an adult, I still use it!
There are probably a dozen more that I’m forgetting at the moment. Trust me, he’s a funny guy. And speaking of humor, I just want to say I am so glad that I found somebody who “gets” me! I tend to be a slapsticky kind of guy. Case in point: last night we were shopping for groceries. I grabbed a carton of butter and started tossing it in the air while saying, “ow – this is hot – it’s burning my fingers – ouch!” Pretty silly, I know. Other people were gawking at me, probably thinking I had lost my mind. But not Tara. She was laughing quite heartily.
In my last serious relationship, if I had done something like that, I would have been met with a stony glare or, worse, icy silence. She never appreciated my jokes and just didn’t understand my sense of humor. “It’s like we’re speaking different languages” was a favorite phrase, and I had to admit that she was right. Things I thought were funny she didn’t, and vice-versa. It’s very hard to relax and “be yourself” when you’re constantly holding back or feel like you’re walking on eggshells. Oh well, just one more reason why Tara is “da bomb” while my other relationships just bombed.
And now excuse us, ‘cause we’re headed to the Washington coast for a weekend of camping. This time without the kids, and hopefully, it won’t rain. Cold weather we can deal with. Wet weather, not so much. But we’ll bring jackets along anyway.
After all, it’s better to have and not need, than to need and not have.