As Father's Day approaches and the passing years make me grow more appreciative of what my father (and my mother) have done for me and for my children, I thought about how to express that. I could have written a flowery ode to fathers and to my father specifically, but that wouldn't fit his mold or mine. Or, I could have posted photos of my father holding a baby and expressed the warm feelings one can have when seeing the happiness in a grandfather's face. I don't think so.
Rather, I think the best way to honor my father on this 2012 Father's Day is to share ten of his most common sayings, based on my own rankings, and let readers reflect on his and their own fathers' "wisdom." Here they are, in no particular order of frequency or importance:
1. ASK YOUR MOTHER
Is this something all fathers say? I know I've been guilty of this fallback myself. And, in fact, I've gone ahead and asked my mother, per his suggestions, since I was probably four years old. The answers are rarely what I want to hear, but maybe that's the point.
2. WHY AREN'T YOU AT WORK?
My father is a workaholic and always has been. Ever since my first high school part-time job and through my adult years, if he were to see me at some point during what he would consider to be a "work day," I'd get the "Why aren't you at work?" question. Answers like, "I'm on vacation, I had a dentist appointment, or I had a meeting with the President" were categorically unacceptable. It's either work, death or Sunday.
3. THE CUBS STINK
My father was one of 42,923 fans who attended game 4 of the 1945 World Series at Wrigley Field. The Cubs lost. As the definition of a "die-hard" fan, having died a thousand deaths with this team, he should know whether they stink or not. The beauty of his use of this simple phrase is that, no matter the circumstances - 1969, 1984, 2003 or today - he's always right.
4. Breakfast should be fast, dinner can be slow, hurry up, pack the car, come on let's go
Family vacations were often fun and stressful at the same time. The stress arose particularly when we were trying to get breakfast at a hotel/motel in the morning before proceeding onto the next leg of our driving journey. Any delay in service at the hotel restaurant before heading out was met with aggravation and the above rhyme that was created by and for my father.
5. NOBODY EVER LISTENS TO ME!
Isn't that every father's lament? I know it's not true, but I find myself thinking the same thing from time to time. And yes, we did and do listen, we just might not respond the way he anticipated.
6. Can I please get some service here?!!?
My kids will tell you that going to a restaurant for dinner or to a service establishment (think cell phone store) with my father can be a rather unruly and demanding experience. If a server or sales person doesn't come to the table fast enough, if a line is too long, or if there is any prolonged wait involved, the above phrase is invoked. Often followed by the sarcastic and condescending, "Oh? You decided to wait on us. Great." And through it all, my mother stays calm as can be (without medication).
7. DON'T TELL YOUR MOTHER
This is not a derivative of number 1 above. As soon as my father is at Herm's Palace in Skokie or another similar hot dog stand and he orders a jumbo Polish Sausage with grilled onions (one and a half years removed from quadruple bypass surgery) or when his hand slides into the Entemann's donut box, "Don't tell your mother" is invoked. He knows he shouldn't be doing whatever he's doing and he also knows that I'm a snitch. This phrase has now evolved into the equivalent, but less threatening, "Don't tell your brother."
My mother's name. Yelled at immeasurable decibel levels for numerous and disparate reasons over the years; such as, if the phone is ringing in the house and he doesn't know where the phone is located: if the doorbell rings (that's right, he doesn't answer the door); when the dog poops on the floor; or when "Ask your mother" simply won't do.
9. WHAT DOES HER FATHER DO?
The initial response whenever my brother or I mentioned to my father that we were going on a date or having any other kind of encounter with a female, from approximately age 16 to present. He now asks his grandsons the same thing.
10. JUST CHECKING IN TO SEE WHAT'S GOING ON
What makes a father essential is knowing he's there for you, whether in person or not. This phrase is my favorite because I know he's there and always has been - workaholic, rushed, kind of crazy, or otherwise.
Thanks for the top ten and Happy Father's Day!