For example, we both stand with our hands on our hips when people are talking to us. I saw a picture of my dad at a trade show one time and he was doing this superman stance. Then I realized I do it all the time. Sometimes I catch myself doing it and I try to stand there with my hands dangling at my sides, which feels weird. I don’t want to put my hands in my pockets in case somebody things I have a weapon.
My dad used to be one of the coaches of my middle school baseball team. I could throw a baseball pretty hard when I was playing catch in my yard, but couldn’t when I was pitching in an actual game. My dad had been a good pitcher and couldn’t figure out why I would start lobbing the ball so softly when an actual batter stepped up. I think its because I was sure I was going to kill someone by hitting them in the neck with a baseball. A few years later I tried out for the high school baseball team. I made the last spot on the team but when I learned I would not play much, I quit and went back to running. When you are on the track team, they let you run as much as you want.
My dad did really well in school. And my grandfather. They were both top of their class. I guess they expected this type of achievement from me too. Luckily my elementary school didn’t give letter grades like normal school. When I got my first ‘B’ in high school, maybe it seemed like I would never get into Harvard (I didn’t even apply suckers!). I was really just concerned with having fun and learning what I wanted to learn about, which didn’t always line up with what the teachers wanted me to learn.
I got suspended for cleverly coming up with the acronym for “Special High Intensity Teaching” or S.H.I.T. The note I passed around said something like: “If you are not getting enough S.H.I.T. from your teachers already, they are having a special class after school where they will pile some more S.H.I.T. on you.” I ended up getting into college anyway.
My dad and I have a dead giveaway so you can tell if we stayed up late the night before drinking. We both sound like James Earl Jones. My dad likes to have bonfires with his buddies and they try to see who can bring the best bourbon. They also bring random toys like a nose flute to see if they can peer pressure each other into using them.
My dad has worked for the same company for his whole career except for a couple years when he did something similar for a different company. He’s probably waiting for me to make something of myself. Well, I made a baby! Now they hang out.
When my dad goes camping he is very picky about the campsite. If it’s by a creek it’s better. When he finds the perfect spot he says, “We’ve got a Primo spot!”
He tells the story about when he was in college and all his camping gear was already in the back of the car, and when the week ended he and my mom wouldn’t have to waste a second to get out there and go camping.
We both tell the same stories over and over. I guess these are our best stories. Or maybe they are just the easiest to remember. If I ever start a story with “Did I ever tell you about…” you can just say “yup,” and cut me off.
My dad says he’s not creative. I think he says that so he can get out of having to draw. But he’s actually creative at some things like puns.
I knew I was going to be a good dad because I like puns. I learned this form of high-minded art from my dad. For him, a group of dads sitting around making puns is probably the pinnacle of entertainment. About once a week I get an email from him at work with some new pun. “What’s the only day of the year that is also a command? March fourth!”
When I was younger I used to go watch my dad race triathlons and running races. Sometimes I did the kids race. There is a picture of me running with my dad in fluorescent pink shorts and tall socks. I still dress like this. When I was 13, I did my first triathlon with my dad. I did the whole thing painfully slow, and he let me beat him right at the end. When I got older, I beat him fair and square. Now that I have a kid, I can’t wait for him to come to my races. Then I will have two fans.
When I learned I was going to be a dad, my friend told me, “You will notice more of your own father in yourself.” It’s fun to see my dad take my son around the house and “give him a tour” of the light switches and an explanation of how various household items work. I wonder if he did that with me? I do know how the popcorn popper works.
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