Every little a girl grows up idolizing her dad. I pretty much grew up embarrassed by mine. My dad is loud, and wears very bright colors. (In fact, in 1982 he owned a pair of bright yellow and a pair of bright red high top Reebok. Which,didn’t seem so bad when in ’86 he purchased turquoise Keds!). My dad greets everyone, in every store, by saying “Howdy Doo?!” He also has a permanent mustard stain on every shirt and some kind of pretzel crumbs somewhere on his face at all times.
My dad was 27 when I was born. He and my mom divorced when I was four, and I guess having no clue how to parent, he thought the best way to raise me on the weekends was to make stuff up. ‘Kids are gullible’, he thought. By the time I’d figure out I’d be an adult and out of the house. (Quite a diabolical plan!)
Growing up with these lies can be confusing, especially as you realize that they aren’t true. At first I would think, “The world must be wrong. My dad is the smartest guy I know.” (He taught me that too.). Then I realized that although he might be the smartest, he may have also been the trickiest. Here are his top ten:
10. There is no FM radio in Dodge Rams or Mazdas. Apparently, he and my step-mom, could only afford AM, because child support was so expensive. I did realize one day that the oldies station, that we listened to was on FM. Nicely played, Dad, nicely played.
9. Every song that comes on the radio mentions my name. I knew my parents named me after Lauren Bacall, but I didn’t realize how popular she was until we’d get in the car and my dad would sing along to every song. Imagine the oldies song ‘Sherry’. He would sing, “Lauren, oh, Lauren., pretty baby… You’re the one.” or ‘Barbra Ann’? “Laur- laur-laur-laur-laur-RAN.” Every song.
8. Don’t bring drinks to bed. Apparently, as a child, my dad used to sneak soda and comic books into bed at night. One night, when he was ten, he spilled the cola, and fell asleep. He woke up my grandmother thought he peed the bed and rushed him to the doctor to undergo a series of painful tests. First of all, wouldn’t my grandmother have noticed the pee smelled like soda and was brown? And would doctors really do all kinds of testing for a kid who has one pee accident? To say the least I didn’t like needles and didn’t want that mistake to happen to me…. My drinks stayed in the kitchen.
7. You are supposed to eat the peanut shells. My dad lived a good hour from my mom’s house when I was growing up. He would always bring me a snack for the ride. Usually either red pistachios ( who eats those?) or peanuts. When asking what to do with the shell, he acted like I was insane for not knowing. “You eat it!” he exclaimed. And popped an entire peanut in his mouth and swallowed. When I threw my peanut in my mouth, I almost vomited! I tasted like crunchy dirt. I couldn’t taste the peanut at all. My saliva mixed with the dirt and there was soon a lump of mud in my mouth. I looked over at my dad, who was chewing his ‘peanut avec shell’, and he looked back and said, “Mmm, good, right?” I couldn’t bear to swallow, so I rolled down the window and spit it out, then wiped my tongue with napkins incessantly. “What’s wrong with you! You are so disgusting!” He yelled. “Don’t complain that you are hungry before dinner.”
6. Duck sauce is made from squeezing a duck over a pot. It all started with an innocent question, about what the orange stuff on the table was. My dad has to know everything, and so he described precisely how it was made. My little brother and I were so horrified. We just pictured mean Chinese men squeezing unwilling ducks over pots of boiling water. I’m pretty sure my brother cried. Dad tells the ‘how to make duck sauce’ story every time we eat Chinese. My brother is 24 and still won’t eat the stuff.
5. Kinko’s is an important part of my dads business and he quit smoking. This goes under one category because after the Marlboro man got some warnings from the surgeon general, Dad promised he’d quit cold turkey. At the same time, he started running out four times a day to make copies at Kinko’s. I thought that he had to make A LOT of copies. Turned out he was getting a nicotine fix.
4. He’s the kind of guy that will take a punishment for you. My dad is a man with little patience. (I’m thinking it has something to do with his diet of pretzels, circus peanuts and Marshmallow Peeps.) If I ever got loud or whined more than usual on a Saturday or Sunday he’d say, “You are being very annoying. But it must be my fault, for not being a good dad. Instead of punishing you, I’ll go to my room.” He would shut the door and remind me he was punished so I couldn’t bother him. Looking back this always occurred when Penn State or the Dolphins were playing.
3. When you can’t find a tissue, it is okay to use a leaf, even if it is a fake one. We are a family with allergies. Always, sniffing, sneezing and itching; especially during ragweed season. My dad sneezes a lot, and especially loud and messy. I can think of multiple occasions that he sneezed in the mall, loud enough to draw the attention of passers-by, and just grabbed a leaf off a tree in the middle of the walkway and used it to wipe and blow his nose. “Why, are you running away! He’d yell, making sure everyone knew was his kid. My father explained to me, way before the Green revolution, that using leaves was saving trees and it added extra aloe to prevent chopping to your nose. “Everyone does it in Europe”, he explained.
2. Girls who don’t wear ponytails can’t be trusted. Dad claims that his first kiss wasn’t until college, (because he was only 4’10” until he got to Penn State where he drank the water and grew a foot.). When he was making out with this girl, whose long hair came down to her shoulders, he put his hands on the sides of her head and his left hand slid right past where her ear should have been. It was so smooth, in fact, that my dad lost his balance and fell. Traumatized, he ran away, and would never kiss a girl who didn’t wear a ponytail again.
1.He invented the Pringles can. My dad swears this one is true. In fact, when anyone challenges him on it, he becomes, enraged…almost Hulk-like. But the story is that he was an advertising intern and proposed a great idea: to sell potato chips in a tennis ball can. He said, the CEO immediately asked him to leave and the next year, Pringles came out. Yes, the chips, in a tennis ball can. It was an instant grounding if we were ever caught eating or God-forbid buying the things.
These are just my top ten. There are hundreds more of these stories. Many of which I am still unsure if they are true or not. A lot of people have day’s who are just strange, or nerdy. My dad is unique. His stories have taught me to be creative and to have a sense of humor. I wouldn’t trade him in for anything.