Sunday, August 17, 2008

Yesterday's post about my dad puttin' up his one-two dukes reminded me of other faux feistiness from my father.

Back in elementary school, I was briefly friends with a couple of schmoes Matt and Paul who at the time I thought were cool, so me proving my coolness quotient meant avoiding the parents if possible, even when the guys came over my house. Unfortunately, we had to go through the kitchen to get outside, and my dad was there, reading Newsday or The Times or The Daily Racing Form. Being a polite kid, I reluctantly introduced my friends. "Dad, this is Matt and Paul."

My father said, "Nice to meet you, Matt and Paul." Only he said it in a fake voice -- a deep gruff loud one, like he was growling it at us.

I was completely mortified. "Dad, why are you talking like that?"

"What?!" he said, still in his bass-grumble. "Matt and Paul look like tough guys. I want them to think your father's tough."

I shook my head, still completely embarrassed, and turned to them, clarifying: "He really doesn't talk like that."

Over time, I learned that this was Dad's standard operating procedure. If I ever had a peer to impress, Dad deftly destroyed my desire for dignity. I got off easy with Matt and Paul. He'd tell prospective girlfriends details about my toddler toilet training days, not to mention refuse to stop skinny-dipping at our pool. ("Don't wanna see?" he'd say. "Avert your eyes.") If we were in a public place and there was music playing he'd do his goofy knee-bending dance ("What?! This is good song? I feel like boogying!") despite me begging him to stop or my refusals to acknowledge any family connections.

Disgraceful. Humiliating. Cringe-inducing.

And hysterical.

If I have kids, I plan to do the exact same thing. I'm already working on my white-man's overbite.


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