My dad is a funny guy. Bespectacled, he’s a kind of imposing figure who likes to wear Hawaiian shirts, party, and generally have a good time. When I was in high-school, I’d bring my friends home and my dad would entertain them by telling them stories about his childhood in West Philly, singing Snoop Dogg songs in a Bob Dylan voice, and cracking the corniest jokes possible. “Your dad is so cool,” my friends would tell me.
My friends still tell me this. And I know; he is a cool dad. He’s a good dad, too. Growing up, he always helped me with my homework, and made the quirkiest Halloween costumes for my sister and me. I totally got lucky in the Dad Lottery. But like everyone, he has certain idiosyncrasies that just drive me absolutely nuts. I should mention here that we are a lot alike, me and my dad, but there is one thing I am not. And that is a spoiler.
1. The Great Gatsby
It was the summer I finished high-school. I was sitting on a stool and leaning on the kitchen counter eating a bagel and reading The Great Gatsby. I’m sitting and reading and I’m enjoying the story and it’s at the end when they’re driving back from the city and the suspense is building and my dad walks into the kitchen from the basement, notices the novel in my hand and says, “Oh, The Great Gatsby. You know, he dies in the end. It’s sad.” I dropped the book and didn’t bother reading the rest.
2. Jurassic Park
The movie had just come out in theatres and my dad was the only one in our family who had seen it. We were all at my Uncle Charlie’s house and my cousins had a board game version of Jurassic Park. My sister, my cousins, and I were all really excited because we all loved dinosaurs and were at that age where digging up dinosaurs for a living seemed like a pretty reasonable life goal. As we took the game and its pieces out, my dad told us about the characters, which dinosaurs were featured, who gets killed in the movie. “You don’t want to be the lawyer,” he said. “He dies on the toilet.”
I was really excited about watching this for the first time. I rented it from the video store and got home and got comfortable. My sister was with me. I think I was 13 and she was 9, those ages seem to make the most sense. We were in the living room watching it and my dad joined us somewhere in the first few scenes. The shower scene freaked my sister out and she left the room after screaming. In a way to console her, my dad shouted out, “You know, his mother is dead! He’s just dressing up and pretending to be his mother!” This one probably bummed me out the most. I stopped the movie at that point and to this day I have never seen the rest.
4. Trivial Pursuit
My family has a few traditions around the holidays. One is getting absolutely plastered. Another is playing Trivial Pursuit. The former often complicates the latter. Most people want to just play the game, move their pieces around on the board and answer questions to get slices of plastic pie. My dad doesn’t like to play that way. He likes to hang out in the basement and come through the living room every now and again where we’re playing to listen to the questions so he can blurt out the answers before the people playing can. We tend to stick to charades at Thanksgiving and Christmas these days.
5. Humphrey Bogart
My parents were in California visiting me and we had taken a road trip down to Monterey and Big Sur. One night, in our motel room, we decided to watch a movie together. We found some channel that was playing classic movies and some Humphrey Bogart flick was on. I can’t remember much of the plot, it was a silly story about being on a ship going to China and maybe there was a romance and a murder mystery. Anyway, at some point early on in the movie, my mom and I made some exclamation about how handsome Bogie was. My dad laughed and said, “You know he was bald. He’s wearing a toupee right here in this movie. He was really short, too.”