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Father Figure September 12, 2010

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Uncategorized.
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I earned my MS in Written Communications in 1995. Part of the course of study was humorous writing. My father passed away in 2000, but I’m sure today he would appreciate his memory enshrined by this blog post:

FATHER FIGURE

Part 1: It pays to advertise

My father has always responded favorably to advertising. What do I mean by “respond”? Well, how many people do you know, upon hearing an ad concluding “…and tell them Jack Brickhouse sent you and get your free gift!”, actually go into the store and say that? Meet my father. As I shop with him, he completes his rounds, picks out the advertised product at the advertised price, struts to the counter, and as the acne-clad teen begins to ring the
sale he growls, “Jack Brickhouse sent me, kid.” The cashier has a look on his face like a deer in headlights.

At that moment my father leans over, an imposing 6’1″, 250, and demands, ‘Wadsamadder, kid, don’t listen to your own ads?” Before the cashier can answers he continues, “And waddabout MY free gift?” The cashier is reaching for the panic button, while the store manager (whom I’ve traded with for the past 7 years) arrives on the scene. I envision the entire Grand Central SWAT team converging on this crowded hardware store and taking out everything in sight, including the waving Garden Weasel man’s display, without harming the prime suspect. My father would still be towering over the cashier awaiting a response. The cashier need only say something like, ‘Well, I guess I haven’t heard about that sir. Let me check with my supervisor.” All would be forgiven. My father would tell him to listen better next time.

But, no, the cashier is coy, looks blankly (like a reject from Beverly Hills 90210), returns change to my father along with his free gift (a booklet entitled “Brickhouse Gardening Tips”); without a word. My father turns to the manager and says, “Waddahell’s wrong with these punks anyway?” The manager gives me one of those Donald Duck looks of disgust and shakes his head. I knew we would never be allowed to shop there again.

Part 2: At The Old Ball Game
My father loves baseball. And, being his only son, I inherited the addiction. What I didn’t inherit was his excitability when he goes to the ball park to watch. He engages in a verbal sparring match with anyone in ear shot, and, with his booming baritone. He can cover the entire 6-county metro area, Southern Wisconsin and Northwest Indiana. It begins with the ticket-takers at the gate. “You better watch how you tear those, they’re gold, GOLD, GOLD!!! You know what they cost! You did it, didn’t you? Thieves!!!”, he exclaims as his crotch catches the wrong end of the turnstile. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!!! Get that thing oiled or sumthin!” He looks at me and asks, “What’s wrong with these people?”

We proceed to approach the scorecard man, innocently hawking his product. Of course, he does look like a preacher in a pulpit, in an odd sort of way. So my father gives him due reverence, “Say, preacher, waddaya need for one? Fifty cents?” The score card man rearranges his cigar and jabs, ‘Three bucks, Dick.” My father’s name isn’t Dick. He jabs back, “You’re killin’ me preacher!” At this point my father understands he can’t win this one, so he swears at the scorecard man in Italian, buys the program and storms away. He looks at me and asks, ‘Where do they get these people from, anyway?”

We took our seats only a few rows from the Sox dugout. “Great seats, huh?” I
said, fishing for a compliment. I knew if I caught anything I’d have to throw it back. My father’s idea of a compliment, say, after a great meal cooked by my wife, is something like, ‘Well, I didn’t throw up, did I?” So I was surprised when he replied boldly, “Oh, yeah!” My deep satisfaction was interrupted two seconds later by him bellowing, “NOW I’M CLOSE ENOUGH TO REALLY YELL AT THESE FLUB-A-DUBS!” Now there were about twenty people with faces like Bambi at midnight staring at an on-coming Mack truck. I knew that once the place filled up, the ripple effect would occur. The shock of my father’s shouts being traumatizing to small children in our immediate vicinity, still
louder than the P.A. announcer on the mezzanine level, and enough for people in the upper deck to report rumbles underfoot to ushers.

My father is from St. louis and a die-hard Cardinals fan. As fate would have it,
there are some former Cardinals on the Sox this year. One is a pitcher, Jose Deleon. Jose did not do well for the Cards. As my father’s eyes roamed Comiskey Park for something to condemn, he saw Jose.  Jose was standing in front of the dugout, a few feet from us, talking with another player. My father became like the cat that spotted the mouse. His eyes got big, his back legs started to twitch and he became eerily silent. Then he began hurling insults toward the field.

I noticed a soda vendor had entered the aisle behind us to serve a patron seated directly behind us. A popcorn vendor was walking toward us in our aisle to serve the unsuspecting who were just seated to the left of my father. At the only moment the two vendors were at arms-length from my father, he stood suddenly (still yelling) and began to flail his arms like a man overboard. The left arm caught the tip of the popcorn tray and the right arm caught the tip of the soda tray and the aisles were awash in a sea of Pepsi with corn racing down to the aisles below.

The patrons surrounding the area, some splashed with the syrupy drinks and other wiping the debris of salt and corn from their clothes and bodies, began hurling expletives at my father. He had been concentrating so intently on his tirade that he acted like he had been jarred from a deep sleep and noticed the havoc around him. He looked down at me and asked, ‘Whadda hell’s wrong with these people, anyway?

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Comments»

1. Pam (Zeller) Reinacher - October 22, 2010

Great read! I remember you wrote poems in high school. Enjoyed this story about your father.

vsap - October 22, 2010

Hi Pam, If you look at the very beginnings of this blog, I posted lots of poems. Just ignore the incendiary political stuff! Best, Vince


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