No Card’s in the Mail, This’ll Have to Do

Posted: June 21st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: College, Daddio, Miss Kate, Mom, Parenting | 3 Comments »

My college friends feared my father.

I mean, for starters I’d like to point out that I’m old. As in, I attended college in the era of hot pots not microwaves, typewriters not computers, and pay phones not iPhones. I know, totally charming and rustic, right?

All this for just $20,000 a year!

Anyway, so college in Ohio was, to say the least, a wee bit o’ culture shock for this lass. I mean, the Midwest being one thing. But having had the good luck to spend the summer between high school and college in southern France with family friends upped the culture clash exponentially. (Let’s just say they aren’t rockin’ le monokini on the banks of the Kokosing River.)

My mother and I were still very much in the PTSD wake of my teendom when I was in college. So all my issues around the ill fate that’d landed me in Nowheresville, Ohio were things I processed heavily via the hall pay phone with Dad.

Outgoing calls to him were one thing. But the incoming calls are what bred fear amongst my hallmates.

“This man—,” they’d say, after banging on my door. (A door that had a wipe-board for leaving messages on it. That was texting in my day.) “This man with a crazy deep voice is on the phone for you.”

“Oh! Dad!” I’d chirp, perked up from my hung-over haze and scrambling into an Indian print t-shirt and pink Oxford boxers. “Thanks!”

Over time my father’s low scary-ass voice became known in the hallway ‘hood. ‘Krrrrrrrris-tennnnn!” they’d holler, conceivably before he’d even asked for me. “‘S’yer dad!”

Eventually, prior to even buying them their first starving-student dinner, Dad became legend. Known not only for his vocal resonance and telephonic tenacity (calling often, if only to check in and report RI weather), but also for the letters he sent nearly daily. The envelopes being elaborately drawn upon, outlets for the career in cartoonery he turned aside for the lucrative smart-boy life of a lawyer. Something his father, in no uncertain terms, directed him towards.

And through his letters or phone calls or my Daddy’s Girl tales, our bond became famous among my friends. Sport even. “Aw Kris,” they’d mimic in their best Bruno baritone. “You brushed your teeth this morning! I’m so proud of you!”

College life made way for my San Franscisco swingledom, and the onslaught of cocktail culture provided Dad and me with another common ground. His visits out west were always party-worthy, and my friends braced their livers for his signature Italian guy Manhattans.

Is it so wrong that the best parties I’ve thrown my dad’s been at? Or worse, that most of them I assembled due solely to the fact that he’d be visiting?

Many’s the time I’d send out an invite to have friends delightedly RSVP, asking, “So, Fred’s in town?” then try to mask their disappointment when I’d confess that no, it was just a party for a roomie’s birthday, or on accounta it being the holidays.

Apparently he and I tipsily swing dancing to Glen Miller around the butcher block trumped a shindig where no one over the age of 65 was in attendance. Go figure.

Anyway, whenever I ask my dad what he wants for a gift-giving holiday, he gets all mushy and his voice gets super gravelly and he says all slow-like, “A card is all I need. Just tell me if you think I wasn’t a half-bad father.”

Which is, of course, maddening and unhelpful.

Usually I ignore him altogether, and spend money on something he doesn’t need, doesn’t care for, or already bought himself two months earlier. But this year for whatever reason, I’ve somehow managed to bungle not only not buying a lame gift, but also not sending a card.

Though even finding the right card would’ve presented its own set of challenges. What are the odds that I could find one that said, “No other Dad writes or calls as much as you. No other Dad draws on envelopes. No other non-cop Dad can rock a moustache like you. No other Dad knows as many card tricks, makes stronger Manhattans, or lets their kid drive their BMW (chaperoned of course) at age 15. No other Dad has a three-squeezes hand holding “I love you” code. And no other Dad would ever suffice for me.”

Guessing that Hallmark hasn’t made that card. At least, not yet.

Driving somewhere or other a few weeks ago, Kate, Master of the Non Sequitur, asked out of the blue “How old is Grandpa?” to which I said, “80.”

Kate: “Why?”

Me: “Because he was born 80 years ago.”

Kate: [Pauses to think] “So did he have his moustache when he was a baby?”

Good question, Kate. Very good question.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I feel bad that I can’t be hanging out with you today, and I feel bad for all those poor schmucks who’ve had to grow up with fathers other than you.

You are not a half-bad father. In fact, you are a most excellent one. And I love you.


3 Comments on “No Card’s in the Mail, This’ll Have to Do”

  1. 1 Dad said at 3:14 pm on June 21st, 2009:

    No father has ever gotten a better cardless Happy Father’s day wish…I am the lucky guy…never have you ever given me grief, cause to worry, or be ashamed or angry with you…..and you have had a million opportunities to so had you been so inclined…thanks.. I love you…don’t ever change!

  2. 2 Mary said at 8:56 pm on June 21st, 2009:

    Awwww….. ya’ll are too cute. Love it.

  3. 3 Megan said at 10:14 pm on June 24th, 2009:

    Actual tears falling down my cheeks. Nice one Kris…

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