When I was a toddler, my dad would show me a little bag of single serve "candy bears" and then I would know it was our special time together. We'd run upstairs and make a little tent out of the bed sheets and hide underneath them and share the small package of multi-colored chewy sweets together. Sometimes I wonder if I love candy so much now because of that.
Even though I make fun of my dad for hating dessert,* we both share a love of gummy candies and marshmallows, especially old marshmallows. Both my dad and I like to "age" Peeps. As soon as Easter rolls around, we're eating Peeps from last year's Easter. As far as gummy candies goes, every holiday and birthday, my mom and I would get him a pound or two of assorted gummy candies. My dad would hoard them in his room and eat them a little at a time so he wouldn't have to share with the multitudes of friends I always had over, since we were like a swarm of locusts, devouring everything in sight. Outside of his room in public candy dishes, those bags of gummies never stood a chance.
My dad taught me how to blow chewing gum bubbles. I remember him sitting down with me with a package of Big League Chew and showing me first how to chew the gum, then how to stick your tongue through it to stretch it out, and then blow into the gum to make a bubble.
I remember once when my dad dropped me off at my elementary school when I was in about first or second grade, my friend Lisa came running up to me saying, "Ooh, Stacey! Who was that cute guy that dropped you off at school today?"
"Ew," I said, making a face. "That was my dad!"
Going through school, I had my fair share of being teased, especially in junior high, where it was so much cooler to be a delinquent than the kid that did her homework and didn't get into trouble. I remember my dad telling me, "Don't worry. In a few years, you'll be going off to college. They'll be working at McDonald's, and none of this stuff will matter."
I love video games, and I am lucky my dad does too. I remember playing Tecmo Bowl with him on the original Nintendo. When there would be kickoffs, there was this kick power bar that would be growing and shrinking and depending on where it was when you pressed a button on the controller, that would determine how far your team kicked the ball. If we were able to kick it when the bar was all the way full, we would yell, "Full power!" The more entertaining thing to yell though, was when we just barely missed filling up the bar, at which point we would yell, "Almost full power!"
We used to sit on these little ottomans to play our video games, and my dad was always extra dramatic when he'd lose. I still remember how hard I laughed when his team screwed up and he screamed and then fell backwards off of the ottoman.
I can still count on my dad to play games with me, especially now that he's on facebook. He will always be my neighbor and send me virtual gifts. Currently, we are trying to survive the zombie apocalypse together in Zombie Lane.
When I was young and my mom would go away a lot for business trips, my dad and I would always have little picnics on the floor. It wasn't the healthiest of picnics - we'd go to Taco Bell and get the party box of tacos - but we'd spread an old mattress pad out on the floor in front of the television, plop down with the box of tacos, and watch Star Trek: The Next Generation. It's interesting because a little while ago, I was telling my dad this is why I like STTNG, and he said, "Really? I don't even remember watching that show. I don't even like it very much."
If we weren't having STTNG Taco Bell picnic at home, we were going out somewhere for dinner while my mom was travelling. Usually it was Firehouse Barbeque in Burlingame, which is now gone. My dad would tell me that he felt like he was a divorced dad taking his daughter out for dinner on his joint custody night.
Even though we'd eat stuff like Taco Bell, my dad is an awesome cook and would always make dinner during the week because he got home from work before my mom. He makes the best smoked salmon in the world. He uses a hibachi grill and it's always perfectly cooked, juicy, and delicious. I'm ruined forever for salmon and can't order it in restaurants unless I want to be disappointed.
He also taught me how to wash rice. "How do I know how many times to rinse it, Dad?"
"Rinse it until you want to eat it," he said.
My dad and I would always be making smart ass remarks, quoting from movies, or making weird connections and subsequently weirder jokes that my mom wouldn't understand. It was sort of like our own little language. My mom would stare at us with a questioning look and a smile and say, "Wait, I don't get it. What's that from?" My dad and I would just give each other a look, laugh more, and then my dad would say, "Why do we let her live with us?" This was always followed by my mom poking my dad in the side relentlessly, and giggling.
This similarity in thinking also translates over to Pictionary. Whenever we play Pictionary on opposite teams and end up drawing at the same time, our drawings are almost identical.
My dad has funny, off the wall descriptions of things that I've always appreciated. My Godparents grow these wonderful peaches in San Jose and they are so juicy and sweet, and have really thick skins. My dad and I love these sweet furry skins, but my mom wants to peel them off. "Why don't you want to eat it?" he'd ask her. "It's like they're wearing a little sweater," he says with a little boy smile, rubbing them on his cheek, as if he is nuzzling a small animal.
Even though my dad has such quick, entertaining wit, he's definitely not the social butterfly that my mom is. She was always the one planning the parties, taking care of all their social and familial engagements, and making sure we were sufficiently connected to everyone. At all of the social functions we went to where I wasn't familiar with most of the people there at what was most typically a potluck, my dad and I would take our plates of food and go hide in some corner somewhere, talking about nothing much in particular. We could do this at least until my mom motioned us over somewhere that we would have to say hello and exchange pleasantries.
I imagine like most dads, my dad doesn't really tend to talk much about feelings or emotional type things. Although this makes it so that most often I'll talk to my mom about stuff like that, it was a nice reprieve when I was going through my divorce. Sometimes I'd just get tired of thinking about everything I was going through, and it was nice to be able to count on my dad to tell me a funny story that happened to him or to tell me about some show he watched recently that he thinks I would have liked.
After my ex left, my dad came over and fixed all the house maintenance issues that I'd had. He could never understand why my ex wouldn't do those things or do a better job of taking care of his daughter. After seeing how quickly my dad could fix everything (he fixed three years of neglect in a period of probably two weeks), I wondered it too. In true Dad fashion, we never talked about it. But, everything got fixed.
Thanks for always helping me fix the stuff in my life and making me laugh, Dad. :)
I love you. Happy Father's Day!
*He always says he doesn't need dessert, and doesn't ever finish it, so I equate that to "hate." Seriously, how can anyone not need dessert?!