Friday, March 1, 2013

What Dad Taught Me

People have asked me how so many funny things happen to me. It is not so much that funny things happen to me, it is more that I have been classically trained to spot the amusing things in every day, hum-drum life that other people miss. My mother, who is an exceptional artist, was using some colored chalk once to draw a tree. Just a quick science lesson; trees are green. She was not using a single green piece of chalk. She was using all sorts of reds and yellows and blues. When I asked what she was doing, she replied, “I am exaggerating the colors I see in the tree.” I looked closer and still did not see what she was drawing. Mom had spent many hours training herself to see what others miss. That is what makes her a wonderful artist.

My father, who passed away 7 years ago, was funny. No, his death was not funny, but he viewed life with an amazing sense of humor. Despite battling rheumatoid arthritis for years, he faced every day with strength and humor. On some days, he was deliberately funny. One evening, we were drinking hot chocolate around the table. He began to speak in a French accent and soon moved to speaking fluently, in Faux French, making up words and sounds that were just babbling gibberish, but sounded uncannily like he was really speaking French. I laughed hard. He took full advantage, and waiting until I had begun to sip my hot chocolate, he began is Franco-Babble again.

I erupted into laughter, spewing hot chocolate across the room. Everybody, including my mom, who was sitting directly across from me and got the full blast of the hot chocolate, also erupted into laughter. You would think that Dad would have stopped after the first blast of chocolate covered the room. He did not. He did it again and again.

Not only was he deliberately funny, he saw the humor in the absurdities of life. He once had some surgery on his feet. He couldn’t wear shoes and hobbled from room to room. I did something he did not appreciate. I can neither fathom, nor can I imagine, what it was, since I was a perfect child.

In anger, he hobbled slowly to the room where I was and roared. You know the way that fathers roar. The room seemed to tremble. Window panes rattled. He roared, “If you ever do that again, I will kick you in the teeth.” Now, I want to assure you, my father was not a violent man and had never tried to kick me in the teeth. Not only had he never attempted to kick me in the teeth, but I failed to see how he could kick me in the teeth, when he could barely walk. I stood there, silent, dumbfounded, and repentant for whatever offense he thought I had committed.

He hobbled off to the kitchen, where mom was cooking dinner. “Kick him in his teeth? Really?” she giggled. A moment later he laughed (almost as loud as his roar).

These are two examples of the lessons Dad taught me about humor. Be deliberate, look for an opening, and above all, don’t take yourself too seriously. 


  1. Of note, I have never heard Dad say anything like that before or after that surgery.....