Sunday, June 17, 2007

Now I Get It

On Father’s Day I’m reflecting about some lessons my dad taught me.

My dad taught me to be thrifty. He bought shrink-to-fit jeans that fit him—before they were washed. He didn’t think twice about wearing them even though they shrunk an inch in the waist and two in length. He paid good money for them and couldn’t return them. He didn’t care what other people thought, and was better prepared than the rest of us when the basement flooded.

He taught me about patience. When I was nine I called him at work confessing that I broke the window in the storm door with a tennis ball. He listened to me explain how I was playing “Bob Horner,” named after the Atlanta Braves third baseman (TBS was the only cable channel we had). When Bob and I got together, I would throw the ball off the wall in the carport, make a diving stop with my baseball glove, jump to my feet and throw the guy out at first.

Well, except once when the ball slipped. When I finished Dad was quiet for about 8 million seconds and asked, “Well…did you get him out?”

He taught me how to respect women. In second grade when Belinda Begay was picking on me he didn’t tell me to punch her to protect myself. Oh sure, she outweigh me by 85 pounds but I was pretty quick when my life depended on it. Dad was an all-state football player so he taught me the stiff-arm, a technique used by the guy carrying the ball to break tackles. When the tackler is within reach you simply stiffen your free arm (not the one carrying the ball or Weekly Reader) and firmly pop them on the forehead. Running at full speed, that will knock the pursuer off balance just enough to pick up a few extra yards, or in my case get enough distance to scale the fence and run home.

I’ve always been amazed at the learning curve Dad went through. He wasn’t that bright during my teenage years, but by the time I was in my twenties he was actually pretty smart.

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