I don’t want to implicate anyone, but I received what I believe to be stolen merchandise as a gift when I was visiting family over Easter weekend. I’m not particularly fond of Denny’s—nor do I think I have any room for it in my overstuffed cupboard of coffee mugs—but despite all of that, it’s pretty much my new favorite mug. Maybe because I feel like such a rebel drinking out of it.
My dad wasn’t drinking from the above coffee cup—or any coffee cup—on Easter. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but since the year he gave up beer for Lent, our family’s Easter celebrations at my dad’s house have become traditionally all about drinking.
Oh—and, well, also Jesus rising from the dead and all that jazz. But beer, too.
Dad isn’t normally that big of a drinker, so it’s always fun to watch him pound 25 beers throughout the day. In the process, he constantly forgets what he’s already yammered on and on about, and the rest of us get to “enjoy” the same stories on a 15-minute, never-fcking-ending cycle.
This year, he mentioned his godforsaken $85 shirt about 359 times—but we were actually pretty sure it wasn’t the drinking that was making him do it. It was pride cloaked in the convenient excuse of Budweiser.
“Hey, Shay,” he would say, plucking at the shoulders of the shirt. “Have I shown you my $85 shirt?”
“Dear God, sis,” I would respond, looking at Dad but actually talking to my little sister as I blew a sigh out of my lower lip. “Why have you not bought that gun and shot me with it like I asked you to?”
My younger sister would shrug. “Gun regulations and shit...blame the liberal hippies. By the way,” she added, just as we heard Dad call out to ask our mom if she’d seen his $85 shirt yet, “he called me the other night and asked if I wanted to grab a bite to eat with him. He said he’d pick me up.”
"Yeah?” I said, turning to her in question. There didn’t seem to be much of a story in that.
My younger sister shook her head. “It was 9:30 at night. The boys were asleep, and I was getting ready to head to bed myself. So I told Dad that. Do you know what he said?”
I looked at her expectantly.
“That he hadn’t really wanted to take me out to eat; he’d just gotten a bunch of $85 shirts for a great deal and he was wearing one. He’d just wanted an excuse to come to my house so I would take a picture of him in one and put it on Facebook.”
“Oh, holy shit,” I muttered, and we both dissolved into fits of laughter.
My little sister went on to tell me that she had told Dad he could drive out to her house—20 minutes away from his—if he wanted to, and that she would take a picture and post it on Facebook for him.
“Did he?” I asked incredulously.
“Oh, yeah,” my little sis answered. “Didn’t you see it on Facebook? Hang on…I’ll tag you.”
My little sister whipped out her phone just as we heard Dad scream again to Mom: “Hey, Wilda! Have you seen my $85 shirt yet?”
My mom was pissed about the whole shirt situation. My dad was such a goddamned tightwad the whole 16 years they were married, and now, 22 divorced years later, his happy ass is shelling out $85 for a fcking shirt?
When she shot him a disgusted look and told him as much, he took a swig of his beer and gave her a grin—one of his dazzling ones that he knows annoys the hell out of her. They’ve known each other since they were 10 and 13 years old; they know what buttons to push, and they do it often.
"Listen,” he said, a mischievous sparkle in his eye. “It took me 5 years to pay down the debt amassed the year we got divorced and you took out a bunch of credit cards in my name illegally because you were pissed that I found out you were cheating. Remember that? I think I deserve an $85 shirt if I want one.”
My mom sniffed all self-righteously, but she knew he had her there. “Still,” she said. “Eighty-five dollars for a shirt? It’s just not like you.”
I could tell that my dad was just excited that finally, the rightful amount of attention was being paid to his stupidass shirt. He smiled, satisfied, and corrected her. “Well, it’s an $85 shirt, but I actually got it for $50.”
My mom narrowed her eyes at him. “You’re a dick,” she said.
“I’ve got 8 more in my closet,” Dad said, eyes lighting up. “Do you want to see them?”
The thing was, he was seriously excited that he might get to show someone his shirts. He’d lost all element of smartass, and he was half out of his chair, his eyes wide with innocent, slightly-drunken excitement. But my mom squashed it pretty quickly. “What is that, a weird way to get me into your bedroom, you perv?” she asked. She twisted her mouth into a disgusted grimace, but we all knew she would’ve done it. It’s happened before.
But I guess she was too annoyed this time, because just in case Dad hadn’t gotten the point, she added, “No. I don’t want to see your stupid shirts.”
But holy shit, peeps, we were dying over the damned shirts. He had us laughing so hard about those overpriced shirts that we were all crying, until finally, there was a break in the laughter when he noticed I wasn’t drinking anything and offered to make me some coffee. I guess he got so used to seeing me with a beer stuck to my snout throughout my 20’s that it makes him uncomfortable when I’m sitting at the table NOT guzzling anything. But I didn’t feel like beer, so coffee sounded perfect.
As my dad stood up to get the coffee started, he gave me a buzzy-eyed look and sipped his beer. Then he said, “You’ve got to give me about ½ hour to make the pot. It’s not one of those Katie Courics like you have.”
And then we all just lost it again.
“Holy SHIT, old man!” my older sister screamed, throwing her head back with laughter. Between hysterial breaths, she managed to ask, “Who in the hell has time to wait ½ hour in the morning for a cup of coffee that may or may not even end up brewing?”
“Yeah!” I squealed, nodding my head in agreement. “And for eff’s sake—you’re wearing a goddamned $85 shirt that we’ve all had to hear about all fcking day…and you can’t spring $95 for a ‘Katie Couric’?”
My dad now shot me the same dazzling smile that he’d used to annoy my mom only a few minutes prior. “WELL,” he said, “if you’ll recall, I actually only paid $50 for the shirt. Can you find me a Couric for that much?”
I think that when my Keurig breaks once more—which I know that it will—and when the paper clip trick fails to work again—which I know that it will—I’ll just call for yet another replacement and send Dad my old shitty one, letting him figure out for himself that it’s broken.
That’s what he gets with his elitist $85 shirts. Maybe he’ll ruin one when it starts sputtering out rogue coffee grounds…