When I was but a wee boy, clueless to the ways of the world, I used to think my dad was the world’s greatest inventor. He was the one who mastered technology, who coined phrases, who tirelessly created new ways to be lazy. Yes, Dad was responsible for everything.
Now that I’m grown, I can admit that I was wrong. Way wrong. Hoo boy, was I wrong. But I love my dad, anyway, despite it all.
Here are some things I used to give the old man credit for, before I knew better.
1 Smacking your lips and saying “ahh” after a sip of soda
In the “wisdom” of my thirties, I understand that this is a trope developed by the sodapop industry to make their customers believe that carbonated corn syrup is somehow refreshing. But a quarter of a century ago, I thought it was the funniest thing Dad ever did. Haha! What a sound! There wasn’t any explanation needed. It simply guaranteed a giggle-fit from me.
Compound this with the fact that Dad was strong enough to pop open the tab on my can of Sprite, and you can see why he’s my hero.
2 Petting the cat with your foot so you don’t have to reach
Dad has never been one to extend effort where effort is not absolutely necessary. Our cat, Señor Fuzz, was well aware of this trait–honestly, I think he even admired it. When Dad would recline in his La-Z-Boy, Señor Fuzz liked to nuzzle his cheek right up against the bottom of Dad’s foot. Dad would, in turn, use his surprisingly nimble toes to scratch the cat’s chin.
When I was a boy, watching in awe as my father used his sweaty, stinky feet to bring bliss to the cat, it didn’t register to me as laziness. I saw it as the ingenuity of a true genius.
3 Calling Wednesday “Hump Day”
What did it mean? Where did it come from? As a boy, I couldn’t fathom the answer to these questions. As an adult, though–well, I still can’t. Dad somehow came up with a way to make Wednesdays funny. From that day on, all Wednesdays were camels. Haha! Camels with humps.
In my teenage years, “hump” took on a new meaning. A meaning that Dad might imply, but would never come right out and say. I appreciate that, Dad.
4 Singing in the shower
It’s pretty good, right? It was Dad’s idea to put the acoustics in there, you know. We could hear him all the way in the kitchen, bellowing out the “Scooby-dooby-doo” verse from “Strangers In the Night,” over and over again. His favorite shower numbers were definitely Sinatra tracks. But on rare mornings, when the mood was right, we’d hear him sing “Habenera” from Carmen, or that song that goes “B-b-b-b-b-bird bird bird, bird is the word.”
I want to be clear here: it wasn’t my idea to flush the toilet when Dad was on the bridge of “More Than a Feeling.” It was Matt’s idea, okay? You gotta admit, though, the sudden rush of cold water did wonders to help Dad reach that high note.
5 Slurping milk straight from the bowl after you’ve eaten your cereal
“You want to grow up big and strong, right? Just like Dad? Then put that spoon down, son. The time for spoons is over. Wait. Hold on. Okay, Mom’s not looking. We’re good now. CHUG, CHUG, CHUG!!”
6 Lighting a match after pooping
In the summer of ‘96, my dad sat me down for a serious conversation. “Look, son. You’re developing into a man. Soon you’ll have hair everywhere you can imagine. Yes, you’ll be rich with hair. Richer than you could ever know. Sorry about that, by the way. It’s genetic. For now, your manhood is announcing itself–uh, what’s the word…aromatically–when you step out of the can.” And that’s when he handed me my very first book of matches.
As I lit a match for the first time after pooping, I was reminded, yet again, that Dad was a genius and an innovator–albeit, one who was too cheap to buy air freshener.
7 Oh, and Dad definitely invented the regulations for loading the dishwasher
He just refuses to tell anybody what, exactly, they are.
Did my dad really invent these things? My heart says, “Yes.” My semi-functioning adult brain says, “No way, José.” But that’s not important! What really matters is that Dad taught me the skills, tricks, and quirks that helped me develop into who I am today. For that, I’ll always be grateful.
Now if only Dad could invent a way to tell me what to get him for Christmas…