Sunday, June 18, 2006

who's your daddy?

My dad has a headstrap with a light attached, basically a mining hat without the helmet, that he wears when he watches baseball on TV in the dark so that he can write down all the plays and keep score without having to turn a light on. When he was right out of college he quit a job at IBM because they wanted him to wear a tie every day. He just turned 59 and his hair hasn't turned gray yet. Whenever I'm upset or worried about something, he's completely calm (even when my problem was something like, "So, I think I did something weird to the car/that wall in the basement/my braces...") and he stops what he's doing to help me figure it out. He married a woman after only knowing her for three months (hi, mom). He makes nothing of what he's achieved or how hard he works, which is probably why I find incessant bellyachers such a bore. He used to buy me books when I was a baby because he thought it was important for me to have them, even if all I did was chew on them. He set such a simple, kind, honorable example that the idea of a disrespectful, game-playing man is, thankfully, foreign to me. He didn't want me to play with Barbies because he thought they promoted an unhealthy body image for women (a nice thought, but it didn't work; I had about 40 of them). He is infinitely patient, a fast thinker and slow talker. When I was little and about to go to sleep he'd sit on the edge of my bed and want to know "all the things me did today," undoubtedly both enjoying and mocking my emerging understanding of grammar rules. He likes the Three Stooges, good wine, and spaghetti and meatballs, and if we're sharing he remembers not to put cheese on top. He reads books and watches documentaries about random stuff, like the history of salt. He has always told me, about everything from long division to being in school plays to following a hunch and quitting my job to go to grad school in order to join a profession that I knew next to nothing about, that of course I could do it. And I know he's always believed it, because the man can't tell a lie even to be polite.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. (That little boy on his lap is me, by the way.)

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