Some things about my dad:
He, along with my mom, exposed me to a wide range of music from a very young age. I have memories of singing Porgy & Bess in the bathtub, rocking out to James Brown in the car in a Roy Rogers’ parking lot, and requesting that my dad play Beatles albums. We both agree that the definition of a good song is one that provokes a physiological reaction – particularly when you get goosebumps – but these days we don’t always share that reaction to the same songs.
My dad is also responsible for my viewing of classic movies. For a while, we regularly got together to watch films like Midnight Cowboy, Chinatown, The Hustler, and High Noon. There were a strange number of movies with the word “Last” in the title; The Last Detail, The Last Waltz, The Last Picture Show. We saw Nashville together and then unknowingly purchased the soundtrack for each other for Christmas. While we don’t do this as much anymore, it’s certainly the reason I’ve continued to watch things like All About Eve and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf on my own.
Dad could not be more proud or more supportive of my sister and me. His constant enthusiasm for all of our accomplishments and talents is amazing, although he always keeps us grounded: Recently when I told him about the A I got in a statistics class, his responses was, “BFD.” (As in “big f***ing deal.”) “Of course you got an A in stats.” I guarantee you that within the first five conversations you have with my dad he will somehow manage to mention my extraordinary “aptitude for math.” He likes to brag about us.
Sometimes his regard for his daughters leads to overestimating our capabilities, such as trying to explain algebra to me in 3rd grade, or introducing me to King Crimson at the age of 11. Best example: At age three, when Mom and Dad told me I was going to have a little sister, he thought my intellect was great enough that he could explain to me how a home pregnancy test works. This resulted in my informing an elderly neighbor that, “Dad stuck something in Mom and it turned blue and now she’s going to have a baby.” This is one of his favorite stories to tell.
Growing up, he was always a great companion for jumping waves or riding roller coasters. Playgrounds were a different story. He once sent me flying into the air by jumping onto the same spring platform that I was already standing on.
It looked a bit like this, but it was wooden, and I was not smiling:
I think he also feels bad about the time he forgot to fasten my car seat and it fell over while he was zooming through some winding back road. He looked in the rearview mirror and all of a sudden, I wasn’t there. I don’t remember this as being upsetting; I just remember being sideways. If I’d had the vocabulary, I probably would have said, “WTF?” Because my dad loves that term. In fact he was proud to tell me that he taught it to two women at a bank last week.
He’s into technology. His computer is surrounded by four monitors. The entertainment center has a remote control that is so complicated he had to leave me instructions to use it. Instructions which were in the form of a video he recorded of himself, saved on a flash drive for me to watch on my choice of the four monitors. He loves to report his mileage and speed from walking/jogging with his GPS-enabled watch. He also loves cars, but that’s an interest he shares with Emily, not me. (Although I do like zooming down twisty roads with him, since I no longer rely on him to secure my car seat.)
Despite the trivial parental errors like launching me off playground equipment or locking Emily’s finger in a car door (which are often rehashed at family dinners), Dad has been a great father. He is a big reason for the range of interests that I have, the confidence that I have in myself, and my understanding of confounding variables in experimental design. He genuinely enjoys having adult daughters with whom he can joke, and we get together often to share food, conversation, and drinks. Which is exactly how we’ll be celebrating Father’s Day this year: cooking on the grill, drinking (perhaps Bota Box wine, which I introduced him to, or Scorpion Mezcal, which he introduced me to), and conversing.
Last Father’s Day, with the daughters and son-in-laws-to-be. (I think he’s probably instructing Mom on using the digital camera.):
I am truly thankful to have a dad who is so present and supportive, but at the same time never indulged us and certainly did not raise “Daddy’s little girls.” I’m glad that as I’ve gotten older our relationship has developed so that when I’m having a rough day, I feel just as comfortable talking to him as I do with Mom. He’s one of my favorite people and certainly someone I’d like to have coffee with.