My father is basically a gentle and shy guy. He is also humble and I have never noticed him act out of spite or fail to respond to a genuine need. In the company of family and long close friends he is able to relax and express the depth of his humor and share his wit and observations of the world.
His approach in making people laugh has typically been with shock humor or quick one-liners that fire like bullets deep into your memory. Some of his antics are told and re-told at each family gathering. For instance after a family dinner one summer in the 70’s he pulled back from the table and made this announcement “I think I shall go to the couch and recline in a prostrate position and vacillate”.
Apparently he had been reading the dictionary and found a word that no one else at the table knew but sounded like another word that, well just was not said in polite society. The silence at the table was profound until my mother said “What did you say?” And for a few minutes chaos reigned supreme and Dad the jester had his moment in the sun.
We were not always sure how he would react to things either. Dad had a deserved reputation of being a strict father so if you messed up as a kid you could count on a fair but firm punishment. But this was not always the case. I remember when my brothers, Dad and I were trying out a new weight set in the basement one Christmas.
Someone did not fasten the end cap on the bar tightly and when lifting a heavy weight my brother let the bar tilt. The cap fell off and forty pounds of weights fell into the basement toilet. Shattered porcelain and water exploded around us and we all looked at Dad. For a while he just stood there with his face kind of twitching, which was not a good sign. But then he snorted a bit and then laughed about as hard and loud as I have ever seen. Laughing is infectious and soon we were all lost in its power and a memory for the ages was formed.
It is from him that I get my some of my own sense of humor and no one is safe from me on April Fools day. Last year I convinced my mom that my vasectomy had somehow reversed itself and my wife and I were expecting bundle of joy #3 in the fall. I get her every year that I try and that one was a classic. Another thing my Dad taught me was things always come with a price. I should have remembered all this when I got this email from my Dad on a Friday afternoon in June.
My old company has called me back to work and as luck would have it I'm coming to Seattle to inspect one of their venders. I'm coming in late Saturday picking up a car at the airport. Hope you have room for me Saturday night and thought we would play some golf on Sunday. I will spend about a week with you. Dad
This would not have been a big deal except that my wife’s family was due from Korea six days from his arrival and anyone that has a wife can give testimony into what kind of stress the old man had just added to her life. But it is family and you make do and the next morning our house was cleaned top to bottom and ready for a guest that we found out later was not coming after all. Dad’s April fools joke came in June.
Now I could appreciate the humor in all that but my wife… well lets just say the old man better walk softly around her when they finally do meet up. As for me I am just minding my own business – just like my Dad taught me.