Monday, June 19, 2006

Who's Yer Daddy??

Father's Day means another Sunday afternoon at Chez Inlaw. Hanging out with FIL for an extended period of time makes me so aware of what a kickass dad I have.

FIL talks for hours about himself, his projects, his social calendar, and his opinions on anything and everything. The only time you're allowed to talk is when FIL asks you if you're paying attention. My dad loves to ask people questions and have them talk about themselves because he actually wants to know more about them.

FIL has made me cry countless times. My dad is one of the best people to talk to when you're sad. As a minister, he's often had to counsel people who've just lost a loved one, or people who are going through a hard time. He's incredible in those situations. I wish I was more like that. I always try to make people laugh, which is sometimes completely inappropriate.

R's friends were (and still are) scared of his dad. My friends think my dad's a hoot. My dad does goofy things like walking out into the living room in a turtleneck, boxers, and black socks when I have my friends over; and tucking his sweatshirts into his jeans (which are adorned with a huge brass belt buckle bearing his first name), and it used to embarrass the crap outta me when I was at the age when you're embarrassed by your parents no matter what they do. Now it's funny.

FIL makes people feel like crap all the time. He tells you everything you do wrong, and you everything you should have done instead. He makes me feel like the crappiest parent alive. My dad is a great encourager. He tells me what a great job I'm doing raising his awesome grandkids.

My parents adore R. I think between me and Mrs. Aldi (his other DIL), I'm slightly favored by FIL, but that doesn't mean a whole lot. I think he appreciates that I'm more of a hardass with my kids. Mrs. Aldi dresses Aldigirl in animal prints and Daisy Dukes. FIL also appreciates that despite the fact that I have three children, I actually find the time to bake whatever food item I'm asked to take out there. The Aldi's stop by the Shop N Save bakery.

Bottom line, I work my ass off to earn FIL's approval. It's taken me nine years, but I no longer sense that he thinks R made a huge mistake by marrying me. I have never for a second of my life doubted that my dad adores me, my sister and my mom unconditionally. He would do anything for us. He's so cool.
Belt buckle and all.

Dear Dad,

Thanks for making us park about fifty blocks from Busch Stadium whenever we went to a Cardinals game. The experience of going to a game as a family was so cool, as soon as we got to our Upper Upper Deck Seats, it didn't even matter how far we walked to get there. I will never pay $25 for a parking spot. EVER. And I won't feel bad for making my kids walk either. They'll get over it, and when they're older, they'll appreciate my frugality.

*** Funny story I absolutely have to insert here ***

Once Busch Stadium and the Local Oldies Station sponsored "50's Night at the Ballpark", and if you came to the ticket window dressed in a 50's costume, you'd get a few dollars off the price of your tickets. My sister and I rolled up our jeans, put our hair in ponytails with scarves, and put on untucked oversized white oxford-type shirts of Dad's.

I forget what we did to Mom, but we dressed Dad up as a 50's Nerd. Seriously. Slicked hair, pens in the pocket, tape around the glasses. George McFly. It was genius.

I wondered if, seeing as how we were dressed like mental patients, perhaps he'd spare us from walking the usual fifty blocks, past the homeless people living under the Poplar Street Bridge, through some kinda scary parts of the city to get there. But he didn't. We hoofed it. All of us.

We were literally the only people we saw in the ENTIRE stadium wearing costumes.

The lesson? Sometimes it really is worth it to sacrifice a teeny bit of pride to save enough money for your family to do something cool together. Plus, you'll have a great funny story to tell.

*** end of funny story ***

And thanks, Dad, for the time you gave the African seminary students ski masks for Christmas. I love that, in the days before Political Correctness, it never occured to you that giving two black men ski masks as a gift might not be such a good idea. You just remembered that they'd said they weren't used to the cold and you, as a good friend, wanted them to be warm in the brutal St. Louis winter. They loved them. Somewhere, in a box in the closet, there is a photograph of Adolphus and Silvanus grinning with joy through their brand-new ski masks.

Thanks for being a minister, so that I could see that ministers are human and imperfect. I met a lot of interesting people because of the work that you did. Thank you (and mom) for making a minister's salary go far enough that I never felt poor (until you tried to make us drink powdered milk). Thank you for showing us that while there may be many people who have more than we do, there are even more people who have less.

And thanks for all the "World's Largest Ball Of Twine" stops we made on our summer vacations in the metallic green Plymouth Brougham with vinyl seats and no air conditioning. I love knowing that I've been to places most people have never heard of.

I'm only cool because you are.

I coulda done without the hereditary monobrow, however.
l; )


Cheesy Knit Wit said...

That's a cool tribute to your dad! :-)

amylovie said...

Uncle Don is the coolest, hands down.


Bezzie said...

Great post.

Jennifer said...

Wonderful tribute to your father. He sounds like a fun, sweet man.

The Fluffy Ewe said...

What an awesome guy and such a sweet letter to your dad, too.

jackt said...

Your father sounds like a wonderful person.

And sorry re: FIL. I have a friend who can't stand her FIL- she's Asian and he's racist, in a joking kind of way but racist nonetheless. It's too bad.

Heather said...

You got to see the Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota?? I'm so jealous...

Stacie said...

I'm only cool because you are! Best line ever! You are so warm and funny, he musta did alot right!
p.s. sorry about the dread FIL.

Zonda said...

Wow! That was an amazing post girl! What a great Dad you have!

BTW: In-laws....what can you do ;)??

Sharpie said...

AWESOME!!! I think, he thinks you're cool too.

Jen said...

"I'm only cool because you are."

Love it!

the kitchener bitch said...

I love this post! My dad was the same way. It's great to read such a stirring tribute. (Except the part about the Cardinals - GO CUBBIES!)

Kevin said...

Fantastic post! My dad is, to this very day, the greatest man in my life. So much of who I am is patterned after what I saw in him as I grew up. He still continues to impress me, and I've gotten used to being in awe of him when I watch him interact with other people.

Hope things continue to improve with the inlaws. I used to think I didn't respect my FIL, but now I have someone else that I don't respect, and I realize that I do respect the FIL some. Some. I think I was on FIL's shit list for a long time, because I was the scum that got his daughter knocked up. I like to think I proved myself to him by working hard to do what was right. Today, it seems that I may have a better relationship with my ex-in-laws than their own daughter does. Weird how that shit works sometimes.