My dad is the king of the ridiculous one-liners. They never make any sense and, if said by anyone else who didn’t deliver them in the exact way that he does, they’d sound really fcking stupid. As it is, some of them already do, but most times, he’s spot on.
Take, for example, all of those years we were growing up in the Catholic church. Every single Sunday, the five of us kids would trudge our tired asses to Mass because Mom and Dad made us. If I thought I was tired then, before I fell in love with Saturday night drinks, well, I hadn’t seen anything yet. I’m glad I didn’t understand the hangover misery that awaited me in my mid-twenties when I revitalized my faith after a several-year hiatus from Sunday Mass. That’s when the phrase “sweating like a whore in church” took on a whole new personal meaning for me.
Especially if I happened to spot one of my many one-night stands in the pew next to me, hands clutched tightly in prayer as he knelt, trying to gain forgiveness for his premarital sex with a stranger the night before, too.
Ah, Catholic guilt.
Anyway, the point is, we went to Mass and it was kind of boring, but Dad always made it fun when, for two seconds of the entire hour, he would allow himself to break his stern fatherly stance after the priest said, “Let us pray.”
My dad would slightly tilt his head downward to whatever kid was standing next to him and say quietly, out of the corner of his mouth, “Why can’t the tomatoes pray?”
Then the five of us, thinking that was permission to act a tad unruly, would start giggling like it was the funniest thing we’d ever heard—which it was, at least during that hourlong Mass. And then, inevitably, Dad would get all stern again and smack whichever giggler was closest to him in the back of the head—one of those quick, flicky-wrist smacks that he reserved for occasions like Mass when he had to be all stealthy about it.
Oh my gosh, I can hardly type these memories without laughing my ass off. It was almost always my brother who got the head smack. I think I only got it once.
Okay—so my point…what was my point? Yes. My dad’s one-liners.
One of my all-time favorites was the one he would use when dropping us off at school or at our first middle school dance at the YMCA or, during my personal favorite situation, when he walked us girls down the aisle at our weddings, where he had to say it a little more quietly. It would always go a little something like this:
“Bye, Dad. Love you!” one of us would say as we hopped out of the car, slung our backpack over our shoulder, and began an easy jog to catch up with our group of friends, all gathering at the entrance of school to go inside.
“Love you, too,” he’d yell out the window. “AND DON’T SHIT YOUR PANTS!”
Seriously, what the fck? But it didn’t even embarrass us. Instead, we’d get to our huddle of friends, where at least one of them would always mutter pitifully, “I wish my dad would tell me not to shit my pants when I leave for school. It’s like he doesn’t even care.”
“Yeah, man, that sucks,” I’d agree. “My dad tells me not to shit my pants, like, every day.”
The only time it wasn’t all that funny was when my older sister actually did shit her pants when she was giving birth. But technically she didn’t shit her pants because she didn’t have any on. But anyway, like in the above whore-in-church scenario, the phrase did actually take on a whole new meaning.
But it didn’t ruin it for us. We still use it.
Once, when my older son was 3, my dad called to talk to him about his birthday party.
“What are you going to get me for my birthday?” my boy asked excitedly.
“Um…a bag of poopballs!” I heard my dad answer on speakerphone.
My son held the phone away from his ear, looking at it quizzically. I mean, seriously, had he heard that correctly? Why would a grown man tell him he was going to give him a bag of poopballs unless he was being serious? And was there something cool about a bag of poopballs? Like, maybe it was something he should want?
From a very early age, we recognized that my son was a thinker, a very vocal thinker who can take a few moments to puzzle things out and come to a conclusion that it takes many more people a lifetime to figure out.
I made the executive decision that day that a bag of poopballs from Grandpa wasn’t something I wanted him to spend time dwelling on, the least of my reasons being that it might have cost me several thousands of dollars in therapy for him later. I grabbed the phone from him and hung up on Grandpa, but not before whispering, “Good one, Dad,” and laughing.
Hmm…perhaps, on second thought, I should go ahead and make that therapy appointment…for me and my dad.
So last week, when my dad called for a quick chat with me and my boys, my younger son asked Grandpa what he was going to be for Halloween.
“Um…a refrigerator!” my dad answered.
Both of my boys squealed and laughed with delight, because that’s a pretty cool costume, right? Of course, my dad wasn't actually planning on dressing up as a refrigerator and he let them know that he was joking, but it was still funny, and my boys spent the rest of the afternoon talking about being refrigerators for Halloween.
You guys, I can’t wait to let my dad drop them off at school one of these days. But I’ll wait until, like, the first day of high school, when Grandpa’s shouts of “DON’T SHIT YOUR PANTS!” will make the most impact.