7 Things My Dad Did That I'll Never Do (and 3 Things I'm Copying till the End)

The circle of life. We’re born dependent, then become independent, often encumbered with a few dependents of our own about the same time the once-independent people who ushered us to our independence become dependent upon us. Kinda confusing, but not as confusing as why I ever thought that puka-bead necklace I’m wearing in that picture was a good look. Because it wasn’t.

But don’t focus on that. Focus, instead, on my sweet parents. My mom is alive and well at age 83, still sharp as a tack. But my dad died about ten years ago. Shortly after that picture was taken, in fact. I was the consummate bachelor back then, which meant that he missed my full circle. Because, like him, I ended up marrying a single mom. And like him, at age 42, I welcomed a surprise child to the world. Like him, it was my fifth and final child. The surprise, fifth child dad had when he was 42? Yours truly.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m out to copy everything my dad ever did. Because he was a bit of a character and there are certain of his habits that this character could probably do without. Here are seven of them.

  • Sport a potbelly 1 of 10
    Sport a potbelly
    My dad was many things, fitness enthusiast not among them. Accordingly, shoe color remained a mystery throughout his storied life. I like knowing what color my shoes are, y'all. And exercising, too. So while I'm sure I'll gain some pounds through the years, I'll never sit idle and resign myself to a life of pot-bellied-ness.
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  • Listen to opera 2 of 10
    Listen to opera
    I get it. All kids think their parents' music sucks. My ten-year-old, for example, thinks that Ke$ha is better than the Rolling Stones, so whatever. But I'm still taking Exile on Main Street over Madame Butterfly any day. I mean, if I wanted to see a bunch of creepy masks, I'd just go to Mardis Gras, thank you very much.
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  • Discuss the cold war over a hot dinner 3 of 10
    Discuss the cold war over a hot dinner
    My parents were both full-time professors, thus prone to discussing topics which were academic in nature. Which meant dinner conversations featured exciting subjects such as university politics, Nietzsche and, my personal favorite, the Cold War. Can't a little kid get a little Electric Company chatter up in here?
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  • Speak French to a cat 4 of 10
    Speak French to a cat
    You know what's cool? When people talk to their pets. You know what's not? When they do so in a foreign language. Or so I always thought whenever I heard Dad going all "oui, oui" with Simone the cat like a poor man's Pepé Le Pew. Wacky intellects.
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  • Smoke in front of my kids 5 of 10
    Smoke in front of my kids
    Some of my first memories of my dad involve cigarettes with un-flipped ashes the size of golf pencils. And as much as I love him, I hate that his memory often conjures up images of carcinogens. Flammable ones at that.
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  • Hold a big grudge against a small dog 6 of 10
    Hold a big grudge against a small dog
    We had this obnoxious little mutt named Barney who made the mistake of growling at Dad one night, and lo, the die was cast. Because my dad, quite literally, hated Barney forever thereafter. And as weird as it was to see Dad conjugating French verbs with a cat, it was weirder, still, to see him regularly hurling F-bombs at a six-pound dog.
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  • Call my mother-in-law names 7 of 10
    Call my mother-in-law names
    My dad had a knack for cutting through the BS and doling out nicknames he felt aptly described their unknowing possessor. Which meant that Barney the dog became known as "The Four-Legged Asshole." And my, um, loquacious grandmother, his mother-in-law? She became known as Motor Mouth. And that's a bit harsh. Funny. But harsh.
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  • 3 things he did that I AM copying: Make that strange noise 8 of 10
    3 things he did that I AM copying: Make that strange noise
    So those were the seven things I'll never do, but what about the three that I'll copy to the end? Let's start with an involuntary one, shall we? My dad made the strangest noise whenever he put down something heavy. It was part sigh of relief, part whistle and it drove me nuts. Guess who somehow inherited said strange noise? Do you have something annoying you subconsciously do that you inherited from one of your parents? And more importantly, do you know how to remedy the situation?
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  • Flirt with waitresses 9 of 10
    Flirt with waitresses
    Dad loved (and greatly respected) women. And he loved going out to eat. So doesn't it make sense that he loved his waitresses, too? "May heaven reward you," he'd say whenever a waitress delivered his martini. Little quips like that one made him far more than just another patron to his servers. If you don't believe me, go visit the Naples restaurant in Knoxville and sit at his regular spot — the first booth on the left. Then look at the plaque on the wall that bears his name. Dad made restaurants so much fun because, thanks to his charm, we were always treated like family. So, yeah, I'll chat up waitresses in hopes of accomplishing something similar. Although I won't ever give one the ol' googly-googly eyes like the clown with the raised sunglasses in the picture above. Good grief…
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  • Love my wife till the day I die 10 of 10
    Love my wife till the day I die
    Dad was resting on his literal deathbed just hours before he passed when he suddenly turned to Mom. "Martha Lee," he said. "Won't you please get in this hospital bed and sleep beside me for one last night?" There was no way she could, as small as it was, but she pulled the chair that doubled as a cot right beside the bed and they held hands all night long. See, my dad loved my mom with every ounce of his essence until the moment he passed. And, I'm certain, eternally thereafter. How I wish that Dad had lived long enough to meet Caroline, the woman I'll love until the day I die.
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Read more of JCO Multiplied: 15 Things Every Stepparent Should KnowThe 7 Deadly Sins of Fatherhood8 Reasons Family Road Trips Kill Your Soul Dead, or Raising Pretty Girls
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Article Posted 4 years Ago
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