Sunday, July 13, 2008

happy father's day...

Have I told you my theory on Dad humor? It's the kind of humor to which only those that have reared children are capable. I developed this theory over dinner at Jesse's folks' house. I was regaling her dad, Klaus with the tale of the lobster hands carnie family. I'd just watched a documentary on them and delighted in the fact that the lobster-clawed patriarch went on a killing spree. Klaus took a sip of his wine and with a huge smile on his face, announced, "He musta been crabby!"
That, folks, is a dad joke.
My dad is famous for answering the phone in ways he finds personally entertaining, such as "Pronto! Pronto!" which he heard at a hotel in Italy and adopted as his own.
I'm currently back up at my parents' house, helping the family get ready for tonight's baby shower. My cousin Matt is going to be a Daddy and as Kate pointed out, "Beth, we're going to be aunties!" As I covered the dining room, walkway, front door, flag pole and deck in pink, yellow and blue balloons, the phone rang, just as my father emerged from the garden covered in leaves and dirt and sweat. (Brock thought he was the gardener.)
Casually, he picked up the phone.
"Every child is a blessing."
Circumstantially, this is even more hilarious.
I thought my mother was going to have a heart attack, she was laughing so hard.
And then she kissed my dad.
Which made me remember another moment, when Mom, Alex and I were at dinner sans Dad.
"I hate going to dinner without Dad. I feel like a single parent family."
"Beth. You're being a snob. And you're being ridiculous."
Correct. And correct.
So we played a game. We picked one word or phrase to describe each of us.
When we got to my dad, Alex and I both said things like "larger than life" and "profoundly brilliant" and "Practically a deity."
My dad, as my mother will proclaim, "would fall on a sword rather than you two want for anything." When the childhood shit hit the childhood fan, my mom was the one that grounded us. My dad took us to the bench by the front door and said, "Who loves Bethy?"
I believe this to be typical.
So, on and on we went, trying to find a word to capture my father's profound magical essence. My mother rolled her eyes.
"Alright, horrible disciplinarian. What's your one word for Daddy?"
She thought about it. She REALLY thought. And then she said, "He's funny. He's really, really funny."
I was shocked. Flabergasted. And I realized something about my parents. My mother is the only person my father really regards as an intellectual equal. And my father is the only person who my mother really regards as truly entertaining. My childhood included Sunday mornings where, a whole floor below them, I'd be woken up by hysterical laughter. They'd pull a volume of the Encyclopedia and read each other "R" over coffee and under covers.
They'd let us crawl in bed with them and I never got their jokes.
My folks drive each other nuts. Insane. To the verge of violence.
But I guess this apple doesn't fall far from that tree. This afternoon, my dad made my mom laugh. And she couldn't help but kiss him. Even if it was dad humor.
I can only hope that my Matty and his sex-less, name-less baby find the same, rare, elusive, complicated happiness that makes up my weird, loud, complicated family.
And I hope Matt finds his Dad humor. Because maybe someday, this little embryo will roll it's eyes at a bad dad joke but secretly join me in reveling at the beautiful, funky, odd, silly, confusing, safety of having a Daddy...

2 comments:

Meg said...

First time commenter, long-time reader!

If I may add my own Dad-humor story-- my dad has a similar sense of humor:

If you were to genuinely ask him what time it was, and it were anywhere near half-past two, it would sound like this:

Me: what time is it?
Dad: Time to go to the dentist.
Me: What?
Dad: Tooth-hurty. (2:30)

(commence eye roll.) That's my dad!

Becky said...

Aw, Beth, that is so sweet!