Daddy Day (I) Care

It’s almost Father’s Day! Or, as a certain deal website would have you believe, the day to celebrate the man who felt you kicking inside of him for nine months.

My dad forwarded those emails to me with commentary when he received them. He was better than some of the blogs–at least he realized it was a joke on the company’s behalf.

Then again, I’m not really surprised. My dad gets jokes pretty well. He’s the one who taught me what a joke is, after all.

My mom has a story about my dad deciding, while they were either dating or recently married, that while he could just walk down a museum’s steps, it was much better to slide down the wide banister. It’s completely in character for the man who raised me, the guy who brought novelty chattering teeth to school committee meetings to keep people from taking themselves too seriously and the dad who honked nine times in a particular rhythm every time he picked my brother and me up, regardless of whether we’d already seen him.

My dad and I are really similar. Like…scary similar. Like I’ll think, “Where’s Dad, I need help with this thing” and he’ll come down the stairs and say, “Need help with anything?” Like, I’ll decide I should text him randomly after I talked to him a couple of days earlier and will get to a place with reception to find that he’d texted me (and it’s not like we text each other regularly).

Don’t believe me? Okay, let’s go for another example.

My father and I are forbidden from playing Charades together, either on the same team or the opposite.

Why is this? Well, when we’re on the same team, here’s what happens.

My dad gets up, starts making the “movie” sign, and I shout, “POCAHONTAS!” And it’s right.

But weirder than that is what happens–one specific case of what has actually happened–when we’re on opposite teams.

My family likes to play Charades during family events and holidays, and we chose, in part because of the unstoppable Stratford team, to play the men versus the women. The ladies of my family gathered in my living room, planning out clues, and we decided not to pull any punches. We’re coming up with movies–“Chinatown,” say, and “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” and I’m tapping my fingers on the table, trying to come up with a good book or play. I think back to some of the more obscure Shakespeare plays. “Coriolanus?” Nah, too scatological. “Cymbeline?” Maybe. Wait. One that almost no one hears about: “Troilus and Cressida.” The other women cackle at how evil this will be.

Note: I was pulling this out of my…Coriolanus. We hadn’t had any recent discussions about this play, although I did do a scene from it a few years earlier in college. My parents didn’t see the scene.

We reconvene with the menfolk, and start to play. It’s going fine, a fairly even match, and then it’s my turn to go. I stand, do a little shake-off to pump myself up, and walk over to my dad to grab my clue. Pick one at random, open it up, and there, in my father’s handwriting, which is very similar to mine: “Troilus and Cressida.”

I turned to the women in my family with a look of disbelief, did the “play” symbol, and just threw my hands up in the air in complete bewilderment, then point to myself. My mom say, “No.” I nod yes. “Troilus and Cressida.” Five seconds.

And that’s why my dad and I can’t play Charades anymore.

Daddy, thank you for making sure that I saw all the Marx Brothers and Abbot and Costello movies. Thanks for all of the bad jokes and worse puns, and for making being funny seem so dang fun. Thank you for the parody doggerel songs that you make up on the spot. You might think it’s a coincidence that I write comedic musicals, but I’m not so sure.

If it’s a coincidence, it’s one on the level of “Troilus.” And/or “Cressida.”

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