Fatherly Life Lessons
With Father’s Day this coming Sunday, something triggered my thinking about the so-called “dad jokes” that must have been a staple for several millennia. For the uninitiated, dad jokes are usually defined as comments fathers make which many consider corny or lame, often made at the expense of others, and humorous only (usually, anyway) to the male parental unit. Often, dads will tell these jokes when their children are around their friends if only to embarrass them. Trust me; I know. To illustrate:
Child: “I’m starving!”
Dad: “Hi, I’m Dad.”
Dad: “Do you know why fences are installed around cemeteries?”
Child: “No, why?”
Dad: “Because people are dying to get in.”
Dad: “What did the ocean say to the beach?”
Child: “I dunno.”
Dad: “Nothing, it just waved.”
These three are definite groaners, but the jokes don’t qualify as dad jokes if the victim laughs. Generally, kids won’t realize that the more they groan, the greater the number of dad jokes. Trust me; I know. Plus, a dad can always tell when his kids need money because they will be laughing at the dad jokes—it’s a dead giveaway. However, despite this opening salvo, today’s column isn’t about dad jokes (I know; you’re welcome).
Certainly, I don’t need Father’s Day to be thinking about my sons, Jon and Zack, and how proud I am of the fine, admirable, responsible men they’ve become. In fact, I think about them all the time. Often when complimented about them I will respond with “Thank goodness for their mother’s DNA.” But I know I had a little something to do with their upbringing, and I began wondering about my influence on them especially during their most formative years.
Okay, so exactly what were the lessons I imparted that they could carry with them through life? I will pause now allow for a dramatic moment to reflect…
I’m back, and better for the reflection. What I recall of the lessons they would have learned from me is a mixture of the practical, the reflective, and the, well, unusual. I knew this immediately because I wrote a list to them in a blog on my website almost exactly seven years ago. That list of lessons now follows, along with a few that should have been included at the time. Let’s face it, though, almost every day can bring a new life lesson.
- Acknowledge everyone. Saying “Hi,” even in passing, can make a positive difference to someone.
- Trust everyone, at least initially, but cut the cards anyway.
- Don’t ask the question, “How are you?” unless you really want to know.
- If you are not comfortable with the silences of those with whom you are especially close you won’t be comfortable with their words, either. This is also true of their relationship with you.
- Never serve undercooked chicken.
- At least twice a year read a book on a subject you know nothing about.
- Read books. Period.
- Forget the mistakes, but always remember the lessons.
- Whatever your creative muse is, feed it. Feed it well and feed it often.
- Love and hate are two very important words. Love is a very much overused word; feel free to overuse it. Hate is also very a much-overused word; feel free to avoid it.
- Always shave with the grain.
- Always rinse your face with cold water after shaving because it closes the pores.
- Never argue with the pig you’re about to put on a spit and roast.
- Getting drunk is a physical manifestation of stupid.
- Through actions there are thousands of ways to say, “I love you.” Learn them all.
- Racism is ugliness of the soul, and there is never an acceptable reason for being a racist.
- Never get romantic after you’ve been chopping jalapeños.
- Sometime in your life you will have to fire someone (perhaps several times to several people). It will either be a person who works for you who is not fulfilling her or his role properly or someone in your personal life who is not fulfilling her or his role properly. The firing will neither be easy nor pleasant, but it will be necessary.
- In the absence of hard evidence, believe nothing of what you hear and half of what you see.
- Whatever hits the fan is never dispersed evenly.
- That said, never be the one who turns on the fan.
- Marinate for a long time; dry rub just before cooking.
- Always carry a fork with you. Then if you’re being threatened, take out the fork, close your eyes, bow your head, and say “Thank you, O Lord, for the bounty I am about to receive.”
- Study the first ten amendments (at least the first ten) to the Constitution. Until you know and understand them and their history, don’t offer an opinion about any of them.
- Purely evil people are rare, but they do exist.
- Tomato soup and a grilled-cheese sandwich might be the best thing to find on the table after you’ve spent an hour or two shoveling snow.
- The lessons learned from the worst thing that ever happened to you will probably not prepare you adequately for the next worst thing that ever happens to you.
- Check your tire pressure and tread depth regularly.
- Be kind. If you can’t be kind, be gone.
- Listen, really listen, and pay attention. Because you can, and because most people don’t.
- If a situation arises in which you have to bury a body, cover it with endangered plants so that no one will ever dig it up.
- No matter where you go, there you are.
- Support your cause, whatever it may be. That means a lot more than giving money to some group; give of yourself.
- Be a mentor to a young person who really needs one.
- What you will stand for is a little less important than how long you will stand for it. Defend your principles.
- If you’re at Home Depot or Lowe’s and can’t get anyone to help you, go to the power tools section and try starting up a chainsaw. You’ll have your pick of help in a matter of seconds.
- There is no greater gift than being able to soothe a soul.
- Never buy cheap tools. Trust me; I know.
- Love with your heart, mind, and soul.
- There is never enough time.
- There are two reasons to enjoy and spread humor: The first is that life is too short not to laugh. The second is that life is too long.
- Always remember that although at times it might be difficult to do so, it never hurts to smile.
This week’s Street Advertising Smile: