One of THOSE entries…

September 19, 2009 :: 9:19 PM


one of these things is not like the others
dido, baba, me, dad, mom, grandma :: manchester, ct :: april 1976

(Ya’ll can go grab the kleenex and curse Mr. CC Chapman for the inspiration for this entry... I’ll wait.)

Today, Sept. 19, is my father’s birthday.

Normally, I take it hard… aren’t birthdays a celebration of life? He’s dead. Has been for a while now.  It makes it hard for me to be all “*happy dance* it’s my dad’s birthday!” because, well, he’s not here to celebrate it with me. And it sucks.

For whatever reason, this year started out relatively painless. To be honest, it started out on a kick-ass note. J and I headed into Boston for some retail therapy of the best sort. We hit the BU Bookstore for our traditional “stock up on new BU gear to wear to the hockey games” purchases. I had to deviate from tradition *just* a wee bit and get myself one of the National Championship shirts in addition to my long-sleeved t and sweatshirt. (Well, as much as I love my boys I have to bask while I still can. I really doubt they’ll repeat, but who knows what the freshmen class will bring. We’ll see on the 3rd.)

[Tangent: Can I just say that I LOVE the fact that the BU Bookstore is in a Barnes & Noble? I got to use my B&N discount card -saved $16!! On clothes!]

Then we went out to lunch at Fire+Ice. Eh. I’m wicked spoiled - in Ann Arbor, MI, there’s this awesome restaurant called BD’s Mongolian Barbeque. Basically, it’s a make-your-own stir fry place, and mere words can’t do it justice. It really needs to be experienced. Fire+Ice is good - for what it is - but God, do I miss BD’s. Crappy atmosphere aside, I did still manage to stuff myself silly.

After that, we wandered to the Pru. I had to go to Levenger to get supplies for my latest project. Oddly enough, I was out of Circa parts. I was in desperate need of rings and covers. I have no idea how that happened! *grin* I spent way too much, but amazingly, everything I bought was on sale. Levenger stock up sale FTW!

Came home all excited to watch Matty Gilroy take on the Bruins, only to find out the game was blacked out. BLACKED OUT! And not a single regional channel was showing it. NESN had tennis! TENNIS! W.T.F?!?!?!  So not happy about that. I think I’m calling Comcast and getting NHL Center Ice. *sigh* Like we don’t have enough sports channels already. *grumble*

Since I didn’t have the hockey game to keep me from being productive, I came into my (still under freaking construction) office to work on Mr. B2’s b-day gift. HOLY CRAP. I am NEVER doing anything like that again. I think, all together, I lost 4 days to it. So, yeah - if you’re expecting anything that requires high levels of creative energy from me, you’ll be disappointed for a while. I’m done. Kaput. Finis.

So… before I started on the Project From Hell, I had to check in with Twitter and Facebook. I saw CC’s video in that little sidebar whoozey on FB and remembered I wanted to watch it. It’s really a beautiful and touching tribute to his family. The bits with his Dad are… they made me cry. I bawled through the entire 5 minutes and then watched it again. And one more time.

I don’t know - maybe I’m more emotional about it because of what today is. Maybe I’m just a big softie at heart. (SHHHHHHH! Don’t tell anyone!)

At any rate, it got me thinking. I spent a lot of time with my mother’s parents (the ukrainians) and I have so many great memories of my Dido. He wasn’t perfect but he used to take me to Carvel and the park all the time in this big old Buick that smelled like old man. Really, for a little kid, what more do you need than that? So many of my memories of him focus on meals in the dining room, watching him, my uncle and my father (and sometimes the in-laws) doing shots of Metaxa. (I have NO idea how I remember THAT of all things!) He got to meet his first three grandchildren at least. We were his pride and joy and we knew it.

I never got to know my father’s father. He died when my father was in Vietnam. My father never talked about him.

Since I didn’t know my grandfather, I started thinking about my father and what he would have been like as a grandfather.

To be quite blunt, he would have fucking LOVED it.

He knew that I was never going to have kids. He might have known it before I did because he never said a word about grandkids. Not ever. He’d talk about when I got married, and then, after the divorce, he’d tell me to never get married, but he never once brought up the idea of having grandkids. Instead, he put a lot of energy into joking about the business he was going to start -  “Rent A Kid”. Basically, it was Big Brothers / Big Sisters without the commitment. You want to take Bobby to his first Sox game, but there’s no Bobby? Rent him! You want to take your daughter prom dress shopping, but your real daughter would rather go to the prom in a tux and Chuck Taylors? Rent a girly girl for the afternoon!

You have to admit, it was a pretty brilliant idea. It would never fly - especially not in today’s world - but there are days when even I think taking a kid to their first Beanpot would be fun, but there’s no way in hell I’m making that sort of commitment for two Monday nights in February!!! I’m positive, though, that my father would have covered all his bases. I’m pretty sure there would have been rentable reasons as to why birth control is a Good Idea.

I don’t know what impact his father had on him or if it had any thing to do with the way I was raised, but he was a good father. He was strict as heck some times. Other times, he was wrapped so tight around my fingers he’d cut off the circulation. We spent a lot of time together and he was my best friend. He used to joke that, at first, he was disappointed that he didn’t have a son and then he realized that he had a daughter who didn’t know she was a girl. When he was feeling playful, he’d introduce me to people as his son Tom. I grew up with some minor gender issues, but I’ve always been the uber-tomboy and my dad loved it. He did not like it when my body reminded him I was not his son.  Our first trip bra shopping? I wish I had taken a picture of his face! He was totally not prepared for that or the other joys specific to being the father of a teenaged girl. (My mom was pretty much a non-person by the time I was 13; Dad was left to do this all on his own because she and I couldn’t be in the same room.)

I could go on and on… he had a lot of faults, and I hated him sometimes. REALLY hated him. But at the same time, he was the type of father more guys should aspire to be. He was amazing - he taught me so much, and instilled so many good things in me, that I know I wouldn’t be the person I am if he hadn’t been who he was. (And, yes, one day I *will* get that MBA and really make him proud, but I’m still recovering from the 2nd undergrad…) Seriously, I look back on all of it, even the way he died, and I’m thankful I knew him. I’d give anything for more time with him, but I’m beyond thankful I had 26 good, quality years with him.

I’m not sure how to end this, so I’ll share this joke. Someone sent it to me a long time ago, and it perfectly captures him. (That tweeting dad in the Verizon commercial (“I’m sitting on the porch”) is also very much like him…) Where was I? Oh yeah, the joke.

An old man was sitting on a bench at the mall. A young man walked up to the bench and sat down. He had spiked hair in all different colors: green, red, orange, blue, and yellow.

The old man just stared.

Every time the young man looked, the old man was staring.

The young man finally said sarcastically, “What’s the matter old timer, never done anything wild in your life?”

Without batting an eye, the old man replied, “Got drunk once and had sex with a peacock. I was just wondering if you were my son.”