Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Old Man (Which, For Future Reference, Means Father, Joni Mitchell!)

This blog would not exist if not for my dad.

I don't mean that like, if he hadn't sired me this genius could not flow forth from my fingertips... although that is technically true. I mean that my dad introduced me to blogging. He had a blog long before I did, and has had the decency not to write about me on it, preferring to tackle loftier subjects like health care reform and social justice. Unfortunately I can't say the same.

Like any good daughter, I show my love through gentle (and sometimes brutal) mocking. My dad always says that my sister and I keep his ego in check. He's actually kind of important, or we hear, but we're too busy retelling the knee-slapper about how he once somehow got a taxi cab door lodged in the side of a moving bus.

Don't get me wrong: I don't think of him as a clown. He's creative and fun-loving and an incredible role model. I have his ears, his fingers, and, I'd like to think, his sense of humor. I used to get all misty when I listened to that Joni Mitchell song that goes...

My old man
He's a singer in the park
He's a walker in the rain
He's a dancer in the dark

...until I realized that it's about her lover. Uh, oops. Also: gross.

The bottom line is that I do feel bad for making so many jokes at my incredibly accomplished father's expense, so for Father's Day I'm going to give you some really impressive facts about Papa Curmudgeon to counteract some of the previous, less flattering mentions (below in italics).

1/27/07: "Dad is obsessed with a game on his BlackBerry called ‘Brick Breaker’. It’s kind of like Tetris, and he plays it any time we have, like, five seconds to spare. He sheepishly admitted to me that he lost while playing one-handed at the urinal."

BUT ALSO: My dad has been a guest at the White House twice since Obama took office. They are basically BFF. A right-wing blogger even included him on a list of suspect guests! She called him a "friend of Valerie Jarrett, Leftist Philantrapist." Dad, it's bad enough you're fist-bumping with a socialist Muslin. Please stop raping Philants.

2/20/06: "My father is extraordinarily intelligent, caring, generous, and successful. However, he has also been known to call inanimate objects 'assholes.'"

BUT ALSO: Well, first of all, I do that too. Secondly, my dad has put up with a lot of animate assholes over the years, including yours truly. I recently found this telling Father's Day coupon from elementary school:

Jeff wishes he could get his hands on this coupon. I wish I still had this sweet Garfield stationery.

5/19/10: "It is a true story that my father, who was captain of his high school debate team, once put his back out changing a roll of toilet paper."

BUT ALSO: Now he works out with a personal trainer and can do a series of gymnastic weight-lifting moves, which he likes to act out when company comes over. Last week he finished the J.P Morgan Chase Challenge 3.5 mile run. He is basically Lance Armstrong, but with more testicles.

1/18/10: "My father—who is constantly devastated by people telling him he's a dead ringer for William H. Macy (I myself think he's more of a Frank Sinatra: all ears and smiles and twinkling eyes)—will never live down the day in high school that he told me I looked like Hillary Clinton."

BUT ALSO: He apologized for that. And also he told me I was gorgeous all the time, even with my massive unibrow and acne and multicolored braces (although he recently said, gingerly and not at all cruelly, "You know, I really did think you were beautiful back then, but looking at photos now... you did have an awkward phase." Aw, bless. My dad needs reading glasses nowadays, but at least his hindsight is 20/20.)

8/29/09: "My father takes birthdays very seriously, as I've mentioned previously, and the celebrations for his 50th in 2005 went on for so long that a friend of his dubbed it 'Garadan.' His name is Gara, so it's like Ramadan, get it?"

BUT ALSO: He made me a freak about birthdays, which is a great gift and which I wrote sappily about here. And he wrote me the sweetest letter ever when I turned one, a letter that I cherish and that I would keep in my purse at all times were it not already filled with destructive agents like uncapped pens and partially-eaten candy bars.

"Sweet Jesus, child, how did you match your shirt to your cake? You have skillz."

Lest you think I'm a total brat, I have written some sweet posts about him, which you can find here and here. There should be more. Does this one count? I hope so. Dad, you're the best father a girl could ever ask for. If I end up with just a fraction of your character, compassion, talent, and grace, I'll be lucky.

And I'll stop making fun of you. That bus totally had it coming. Happy Father's Day!



  1. Please wish your dad a Happy Father's Day for me too, would you? He's the guy that produced such a funny, talented, beautiful girl that has saved me many a day with yourabsolutely hysterical posts, so he must be a pretty darned cool guy.

  2. What a sweet, funny and loving post about your Dad. I am sure it will warm the cockles of his heart. My Dad passed away 10 years ago. I still miss him and often wonder what his words of wisdom would be for me today. He left a great legacy of love and family values which live on in his wake. One of the very best things he did, from my perspective these days, is to have invested wisely so my Mother is well cared for in her declining years. Thanks so much Daddy. (Now I'm getting sentimental and soppy!) Happy Fathers' Day. Rosemary

  3. sister and I gently tease my father all of the time, too. He seems to enjoy it. I suppose this is a natural dynamic of the father-daughter relationship?

    I want to read your dad's blogs!! I want to be BFF with Michelle, as well as teach the young ones.

    And, I suppose, I want to be "smart."

  4. That is the sweetest thing ever. I am holding back tears...wonderful post.

    You are lucky to have such a wonderful dad! I wish he was my dad. Not that my dad isn't a good guy deep down, but if he were at all internet savvy beyond online poker, he would probably be following that "Soldier for Liberty" blog your dad was named on. Sad, but true.

    I love you to pieces, Una. Your dad did a great job raising you!

  5. OMG I LOVE the fact that your shirt matches your cake, how friggin' 80's is that? And that Garfield stationary is fabulous... oh yeah, and your dad is a great writer. Checked out his blog.

  6. Hahaha, I love the shirt and cake too. This is such a sweet post. That coupon says it all.

  7. Sweet post! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the coupon for leaving him alone for "up to" three hours. I would like a few of those from my kids.

  8. Dang Sassy, that brow reigned supreme when you matched that shirt to the cake...skills all around! Your dad's blog IS cool.

  9. At least it says how long one will be gone.haha.

  10. Blimey, your Dad sounds awesome.... successful, inspiring and a bit quirky! I think you are both more similar that you imagine! (in a totally good way)

  11. Your dad seems like a wonderful man and you are both so blessed to have each other. I loved all of the memories you shared and I think that Garadan is the best invented holiday ever. You can never have too much birthday fun and I wish I could match all of my clothes to my foods. (Is that crazy?). Happy Father's Day to your Dad and yes, this post makes up for a lot.

  12. Great post! Made me wax philosophical about all the embarassing "dad" moments in my life. Without them, can you even imagine how boring our adulthoods would be? Who would we blame our therapy sessions on? Thanks for sharing, your dad sounds pretty fantastic!

  13. So I took my father out for dinner tonight to celebrate, and he told me all these nostalgic stories of when he first moved to america, stories I never heard before in my 23 years of life. Lets just say, my dad used to bellydance for his friends, went around lecturing to schools about our culture, and LIED TO THE GOVERNMENT TO AVOID DEPORTATION! I guess what I'm trying to say how the hell my dad made it to this day is beyond me sometimes... Happy Father's Day!

  14. My father passed away in 2003 just days before my birthday and fathers day had been one of those days you learn to pretend dont exist. Luckily I now have a fantastic father in law, and my mom's bf who are like bits of my dad that still remain in this world.
    I can appreciate this blog, and the love and wit you and your dad obviously share.
    It was a really nice read, and made me feel the warm n fuzzies :)

  15. This post is very sweet. "My old man" reminded me of another song that was about a Dad. While my Dad was not a dustman (garbage collector), we did used to sing this when I was little and for a time I wanted to be a dustman and would play at it with my friends, piling our toys and stuff from the shed underneath our swing set before we all had to jump aboard before it drove away.

    I'm not sure how to hyperlink it, but here's the address to Lonnie Donnegan singing "My old man's a dustman" on youtube:

    He also had such hits as "Does your chewing gum lose it's flavour (on the bedpost over night)", another Dad favourite. Oh novelty songs, sorry Joni.

  16. This was both tearfully sweet and chokingly funny at the same time.

  17. Parents are the exact opposite of children in that they get progressively cuter as they age.

    Here is a heartfelt ode to my father delivered last weekend:

  18. Love this post =) Thank you for sharing! It sounds like you have a great relationship with your dad.

  19. This made me tear up. You have a new fan.


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