Well, probably not. But still. I’ve been wanting to write a post about my dad for awhile, but then a girlfriend posted this beautiful story about the 50 most important things a Dad can do for his daughter. And I cried. Because beneath this snarky exterior, I really, truly love my parents and I realize how lucky I am to have them. I realize how lucky I am to have them in good health, in my life, within 5,000 miles (for the first time in almost a decade) and I am so, so lucky that even though I’m the baby in the family, Dad recognizes that I am an adult and he lets me lead my life. But that’s not really what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about how my dad is the coolest dad on the planet and the many reasons why.
Papa Bear (as I so lovingly call him) was not my favorite parent growing up. He was the strict one, the disciplinarian and I really resented the shit out of him until I was about 21, maybe 22 years old. As I aged I was able to look back on my childhood without the teenage resentment and with a bit of clarity. And this is what I found:
5 Sentimental Reasons My Dad is Cooler Than Your Dad:
1) We didn’t have a whole lot of money growing up. Don’t get me wrong, we were never in danger of starving, but things were very tight in our household for a lot of years. Despite this, Dad took me on a “date” each month (it might have been more like once a quarter or once a week, I have no idea, I just remember it being on a regular basis. We have no real concept of time as kids). We would to out to dinner and then he would take me to the bookstore. My sister may have been present, but I honestly don’t remember her being there. I think this is something Dad and I did, just the two of us. Once I had learned to read, you couldn’t stop me. It’s a love that I’m not 100% sure he’s responsible for, but it’s a passion he highly encouraged. My dad is one of about 5 people I know that reads like I do; voraciously and insatiably. So each month he would take me to the bookstore and let me pick out any books I wanted, up to a certain dollar amount. Whether it was one book or 5, he didn’t really care. In retrospect, it’s one of my favorite memories with dad at that age. Wandering around the Converse Bookstore at Town and Country Mall (why we went all the way to North Phoenix when we lived on the very southern edge of town I’m not really sure…) and having the opportunity to fall in love with reading again and again each month when I brought the new books home. He would never complain when I asked him to take me to the library so I could borrow more books. And when I started reading things that he had any interest in, we would sit and talk about them. For many years and even into my adulthood he would buy me books for special occasions. A couple of years ago I got a package from Amazon and in it was a copy of “Atlas Shrugged”, with a note from dad: “Kalypso, I started reading this lately and I really want to talk about it with you and your sister. So I sent you each a copy. Please start reading it so we can discuss it! Love, Dad.” He helped me collect every single book in the Redwall series and they’re all still boxed up somewhere in his basement. All this kind of fell to the wayside when I became a teenager, but that was my fault. As I’ve stated before, I was a shithead as a teenager, we all were.
2) He coached my T-Ball team and my softball teams for years. And even when he wasn’t coaching, he came to every single game. There was a period when I was in middle school and high school that Pops worked nights and he would miss the occasional game then, but I was old enough to understand why and it never bothered me. Mom and dad had done a good job of explaining to us why he was working nights (shift differential pay is a big reason) and I can honestly say I was perfectly OK with it. He held my hand when I got all the bumps and bruises of childhood, through suspected broken bones and inexplicable migraine headaches. He took me to the ER at midnight on more than one occasion, only to leave with an unclear diagnosis, no sleep and work in the morning. He was my hero for many, many years. Still is, in a lot of ways, though I don’t see him as the infallible, perfect being I once assumed he was. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom, she’s awesome and a GREAT parent, but I’ve lived my entire adult life with one goal in mind: Make Dad Proud. Nothing else matters as long as I can make Dad proud that I’m his daughter.
3) He was never afraid to tell me No or give me punishments that truly fit my crimes. This is something I see a lot of parents struggle with. And as I don’t have kids of my own, I have no right to pass judgement on them or their parenting techniques. And I fucking hated him for this when I was a kid but as an adult, I can see he really was trying to do the best he could for me. Overall, he let me make my own choices and let me spread my rebellious little wings. But every time I would cross a line or even get close to the line, he wasn’t afraid to let me know. Like the time I drew a pot leaf on my backpack as a freshman in high school. And that night I stood over the sink with a wire scrub brush and scrubbed it off. And I was grounded for a month. Or the time he found me dead drunk after sneaking out to go to a party with the boys I played Lacrosse with. Yeah, not only was I grounded for like 6 months, I also had to spend the worst hangover of my life cleaning Everclear Puke out of the back seat of my mom’s car. What killed me the most about that particular event was that I don’t think Mom or Dad ever even raised their voices to me. They didn’t scream or yell or anything, they didn’t even seem mad. And then Dad hit me with something worse: “Kalypso, I’m just… I’m just so disappointed.” Oh God, did that hurt. That hurt so much, I’ve done everything in my power not to have to hear him say those words again. And I’ve done pretty well, the only time I’ve heard them since was the day I dropped out of college. He understood why I was doing it but didn’t agree with my decision. And I think that his disappointment was only relieved by his pride in my decision to join the army a few months later. He was, of course, a little disappointed when I got out of the army but he understood that I was a medical mess and needed time off from it. He was disappointed in the situation, not in me, and that’s the big difference.
4) He’s not afraid to tell me the truth. He told me one that “you’re so fucking smart you’re almost useless”. Ouch, Dad, that kind of stung. But at the time, I deserved it. I was working as a Ophthalmic Laser Technician and really squandering a lot of my potential. Now, don’t get me wrong, refractive surgery is a good gig and I made decent money doing it. I’m not trying to knock anyone who’s in the field. But Dad’s point was that why should I settle for being a tech when I am more than smart enough and capable enough to be a surgeon. And he’s absolutely right. I didn’t realize my potential until the last couple of years. I’m no longer content being someone else’s lackey or support. My last job was amazing and I absolutely loved it, but it’s more than a little frustrating having to ask someone else for permission to implement a treatment plan that you know is going to work. Or having to have someone else make the “official” diagnosis that you already know. It’s the same reason I never wanted to go into nursing. Nurses don’t have any power of their own, the Doctors hold ALL the power and make ALL the decisions. (No offense meant to the wonderful Z, I love you so much and I would work for you any time, but let’s face it, I’m never going to be fully satisfied taking orders from someone else.)
5) As he’s now considering me an adult, we’ve had a lot of “heart to heart” type of talks in the last couple of years. I’ve been able to tell him about how crazy I was and how I felt completely invisible to him as a teenager. Which is a lot of why I acted out; even negative attention was attention. He’s been able to open up to me about how much I scared him as a teenager because I reminded him of himself at that age. We’ve been able to talk about all the crazy fucked up things that happened between us and within the family. And I very much feel like I didn’t know who he was until the last 5 or 6 years. And that’s OK, you’re not suppose to really know your parents until you’re an adult yourself. The relationship that my dad and I have today is worth all the drama-queen bullshit that we went through when I was younger.
And that’s enough sentimental crap for now. Here, I present you with 5 more reasons why My Dad is Cooler Than Your Dad.
1) He’s funny. Really, he has an awesome sense of humor. It’s filthy and juvenile most of the time, but that’s why it’s awesome. He raised us kids on Monty Python and all of that good, dark, British humor. I knew that my Dad and Husband (then, Boyfriend) were going to get along just fine the first time he came down from Montana (it was a long distance thing for about 6 months after we both got out of the army). Husband and Dad spent about 4 hours sitting on the couch watching South Park together and giggling like schoolgirls. He’s got that dark humor that makes you think “Oh gods, he’s going to hell, but SHIT, that was funny!”
2) He’s got his priorities straight. Last year Mother Monster and Papa Bear came to Germany to visit us. Husband couldn’t take time off work so the three of us spent like 3 weeks just bumming around Europe. I took them to Munich (one of my favorite cities). When we got there, Mom was on about going to see the Glockenspiel and Shopping and Going to the Altstadt, blah blah blah. Dad looked me in the eye and said “I don’t give a shit what we do, but I want a giant beer and a pretzel.” So I took that evening, after seeing the Glockenspiel and shopping with Mom, I took them to the Hofbraeuhaus. You know, the Hofbraeuhaus. And Giant Beers and Pretzels were had by all. It was lovely.
3) He’s Internet-Hip. He gets memes and understands me when I reference them. He knows what Rule 34 is. If that doesn’t convince you, let me tell you what happened on Friday: I got an Edible Arrangement on Friday from Mom and Dad for my birthday. I assumed that they had both decided to send me chocolate covered strawberry goodness and called Mom to thank her. Got her voicemail. So I called Dad at their house (he works from home). He answered the phone and I thanked him for the present he had no idea that Mom had sent me. So we chatted about it for a few moments and then I mentioned that I had taken a picture of it and put it up on facebook. To which he responded “”You know I don’t like shit about me being out on Facebook. Don’t make me come down there and put a bullet through your laptop!” I laughed my ass off and then reminded him that he doesn’t own a .45. “Well, then I’ll come to Texas, borrow your .45 and put a bullet in your damn laptop!”
4) He’s a big old softy. He talks a big game about my mom’s “fucking ridiculous dog” but he loves her. And honestly, he’s not wrong, she’s a french bulldog and she IS ridiculous. But he’s so cute with Zoe when he thinks no one is watching. He also talks a lot of shit about my “stupid fucking cats”, until one of them jumps up on his lap. Then it’s petting and cooing “who’s a good kitty?!?” He’s also enough of a softy that he *really* wants grand kids. And Husband and I have no intention of giving them to him. But as I am married and my sister is not, we still get the occasional bit of pressure from him about procreation. When they were in Germany last year he managed to make it until the last day of their visit before starting in on Husband. While he was packing up their stuff the night before they flew back to the states he casually dropped “Oh, and Husband? I would like some FUCKING GRAND BABIES BEFORE I DIE.” “Um, Dad, don’t do that. Leave him alone. This is awkward now.” To which he cackled like a hyena and said “I’m Just Sayin’.”
5) He truly enjoys life. He laughs a lot. He realizes that life is too short to be angry all the time and laughs as much as possible. And when he laughs, he sounds like a squeaky toy. No, really, he does. He’ll guffaw for a second or two then start giggling and when he really gets going, he doesn’t make any noise except for the occasional squeak and he just shakes with laughter. It’s hilarious. His laugh makes me laugh. He laughs with his entire body and soul.
****EDIT: This was supposed to go live last night, but I was waiting to hear back from my dad about whether or not it was OK to talk about him on the internet. He wrote me back late last night with the following:
That was very sweet, honey. Thanks.and we went to N. Phx because it was the Discount bookstore.. 🙂