This week on the GMP, writers are crying all over their keyboards as they gush over the life-changing, life-affirming, life-saving bits of advice handed down to them by their dads. Not only are these pearls of wisdom indelibly inked into their brains with permanent ink, but the sons have transcribed the information onto paper which they then laminated and sealed in fire-proof bags and stored in water-proof and fire-proof safes.
And, on Friday, I’ll share some advice Rich Reidy hit it out of the park, too. (I also discuss a lot about our relationship in my new book A Walk’s As Good As A Hit: Advice/Threats from My Old Man. #ShamelessPlug)
But today I thought it’d be fun to cover the times my old man swung and missed.
5. “eBay – Do Not Buy.” My father is a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) in New York and he has done quite nicely for himself. In the late 90s, he avoided any dot com stocks as though they were vegan snacks. Having just moved near San Francisco, though, I got caught up in the fever. Prior to eBay’s IPO, I asked him to cash out my modest portfolio and invest it in online auctioneer. “These companies don’t make any money!” he said, with more than a little confusion as to why the world had jumped on this bandwidth-wagon. I protested with no data whatsoever. He talked me out of the eBay IPO. In fact, 14-years later, you may have won the bidding for heirlooms I’ve sold to pay my rent.
4. “Sell your house in South Bend, IN.” In 1998 Pfizer promoted me from the midwest to central California to sell Viagra. (Hard Sell: Now a Major Motion Picture LOVE and OTHER DRUGS) The company offered a 2% bonus on the sales price of my home if I managed to sell it, otherwise, they’d be forced to hire a realtor to sell it for me (corporations do not want to be in the residential real estate business). I bought my 3-BR, 2-bath house on 1/3 of an acre, located a mile from the Notre Dame campus, for $77,500. My mortgage was $500 per month. I had some med students lined up to become my renters. Dad told me it was a bad idea. “You don’t want to be 2000 miles away when something goes wrong. Take the 2% bonus and move on.” Now, I knew that the Notre Dame administration was often compared to the Reverend in FOOTLOOSE, only less fun at a party. As the result, students moved off campus like it got them extra credit. Real estate prices in South Bend have not risen much in 14-years. Which means that right now I could be a student housing titan, living off the rents on my thirty homes forever. I am not. I am, however, still a renter myself.
3. ” ‘Oma’ isn’t your grandmother’s name; it’s ‘Herta’.” In second grade, I wanted to buy my maternal grandmother – Oma – a necklace for Christmas. Dad took me to Bamberger’s, a long shuttered anchor store at the local mall, where he steered me to the jewelry case in my price range. I chose a cheap gold necklace with the letter O hanging from it. My father furrowed his brow. “For Oma,” I explained. He smiled and shook his head with a bit of condescension. “No, Jamie, that’s what you call her. But that’s not her name.” This blew my mind. “It’s Herta.” He and the sales lady shared a knowing chuckle. Dad and I went back and forth, but he won out. I bought the “H” necklace. And when Oma opened the little box, she asked in her German accent, “Vy the H?”
2. “Boys should not be allowed to play tackle football until their freshman year of high school.” My father credited Joe Paterno with that sage advice. I have never found any evidence of the former Penn State coach uttering those words. But Rich Reidy held onto them like a fullback near the goal line when I begged him to let me play in 4th grade. And 5th grade. And 6th grade… “It’s weight football, Dad! I won’t get squashed by big guys.” No avail. Finally, in my freshman year, he let me play. And, as a clueless wide receiver, I routinely dropped passes that hit me in the hands. Unless, that is, the ball zipped untouched through my hands and hit me in the face mask. Had my father allowed me to play earlier, I would have learned how to see the football through my face mask, a disorienting experience for me. Had I learned how to see the football through my face mask, I would not have dropped so many passes in games. Had I not dropped so many passes in games, I might have lost my virginity prior to the spring of my senior year. And, let’s face it, it’s all about getting laid.
1. “Google – Do Not Buy.” See earlier eBay paragraph. And, actually, the final line of the preceding paragraph, too.
GMP readers, what’s your father’s worst piece of advice?
Photo by: Brett Jordan