and my sense of humor and I think I got it from my father who God sent to the planet for the sole purpose of raising children. SOme of my older relatives have told me I am alot like him.
While he certainly had other skills, he had a temperment for raising kids that will probably be unseen again on the planet at least for the next twelve generations.
Of course, when we were little, he kept his colorful side to himself, but as we got older he would share it with us from time to time. He had his pet peeves, too. He couldn't stand being in a room with a spoiled kid and maybe that's where I get it. I think I was about 12 or so when some little kid pulled the old 'stick an ice pick in everyone's ear' screech trick. He looked at me and said angrily, but in a quiet tone, "Someone strangle that little bastard!" I laughed.
"Did I try that trick when I was little?" I asked.
"Yes, all four of you did, and the baby will try it soon," he answered, conversationally.
"How did you make it stop?"
"Your sisters took a swat on the behind apiece, your brother took two or three," he said, chuckling. "But you, you little bastard! By the time I got you to stop doing that your bottom had inch-thick callouses on it. You didn't quit until I stuffed a boot up it!"
So, OK, I was a handful, but I learned.
Still, to this day when I hear that screech, the first thing I think of is a piece of piano wire, preferably C sharp.
The Old Man was somewhat of a character in a few ways. Although he died in '82 at an early age he is still very much still with me. I think of him often.
I was about sixteen when I walked into the living room and sat down with a book. Dad was there reading an old copy of something like 'Outdoor Life'. A few minutes later, chuckled, looked up and spoke.
"God, I wish I had one of these when you were little," he said. "It would have made things a lot easier."
He turned the magazine upside down and pointed. I got up, went over and looked. He pointed at an ad for a stainless steel cattle prod. "It would have kept me from wearing my arm out... Hmmm. I still have one baby left in the house... Six ninty five, huh?"
My mother, also in the room, looked at the ad and was aghast for a second and opened her mouth only to close it quickly. She saw the twinkle in Dad's eye and the smirk on his face and blushed a bit and felt a bit foolish at having taken him seriously for a second. She shook her head and went back to knitting.
A couple of months ago I was bearded and it is now gray because I am getting to be an old man. One of the chops-busters at work kidded me and asked me if I was trying out for the job of Most Interesting Man in the World. I told him I would have had the job if Jonathan Goldsmith hadn't used Grecian formula in his beard and we both shared a yuk.
I've grinned at those damned ads since they came out, but the day I got kidded about my beard I thought of what it would have been like to watch one with my father. Outwardly he probably wouldn't have been very amused, but he would have had a comment. Often it would knock one out of the park. Dad had a great batting average.
In a somewhat semi-disgusted tone of voice, he probably would have said something like, "The guys that make these ads must be sitting around all day half in the bag thinking this stuff up. I suppose next week they're going to say he went from Paris to New York once...on foot."
I would have laughed and he would have smiled and shaken his head. Yet when the target was pulled there would be another hole in the X-ring.
What would give the entire family the heebie-jeebies every so often that the next ad (or whatever)WOULD be what dad had suggested. It was eerie sometimes.
I once mentioned this to an aunt in passing once and she laughed and said he probably got a touch of this from his father. Supposidly my Grandfather was pretty psychic. The family used to say that if you wanted to know what was happening next then go see Grandpa Pic.
I remember as a kid arguing with my mother who didn't like my brother and I to watch the Three Stooges.
Generations of mothers have been terrified that their sons will get hurt when they start doing Curly imitations. The Urban Legend of kids getting hurt by watching the Stooges was actually played on in an episode of 'The Simpsons' where Bart Simpson is taken to the hospital to see all of the injured kids in the skateboard ward. The doctor there tells Homer and Marge the Bart is too young to see the brutal injuries of boys hospitalized in the Three Stooges ward.
Dad walked in on the argument and listened for a couple of minutes. The he turned to me, "Hey, Porcupine," he said. I turned to face him as he let fly at my eyes with his index and middle fingers ala Moe Howard. I quickly blocked it with an open hand running up and down the bridge of my nose and I felt the web between his fingers hit my hand and saw the fingertips stop just short of my eyes.
I stuck my tongue out and said, "Nyeah!" like I was supposed to. He looked at me, grinned, told me to get my brother and leave.
When I got my brother he told me to leave the room, which I did and promptly listened to what happened next from a nearby room. He did the same thing he had just done to me and my brother blocked it the same way I had a minute earlier. He dismissed my brother.
"See that? They're trained properly," he said to my mother, evenly. "You can let them watch the Stooges."
Years later we discussed the incident along with a few others. He explained to me why my mother was the way she was. She had only two sisters and her only brother was a bookworm as a kid. With no outdoor types in her life, she didn't really understand them very well. By the time I was in junior high school, she had figured a lot of it out. She eventually got to the point where there were a lot of things she'd OK without telling me to ask dad.
I remember the time he found out I was diving off of the Humarock bridge. At dinnertime he reached over and whacked me on the back of the head.
"You're not supposed to dive off of the Humarock bridge," he said.
"The sign says 'no swimming'," I answered. "I dive off of the bridge and swim in the water beneath it."
He furrowed his brows and thought a minute. Then he looked at my mother. 'He's right," he said.
My mother started to protest, but dad cut her off. "I'll take care of this," he said.
A day or two later I smugly went down to the bridge and beneath the large "No Swimming" stencil on the sidewalk in Dutch Boy Westchester gray paint it said, 'no diving, either' in eight inch high letters. I knew where that had come from. I knew the color instantly. It was the color of our house.
I didn't dive off the bridge until the paint wore off the sidewalk.
The time my kid brother and I saw an ad for a pet alligator I walked up to my dad. "Dad, can I..."
"No, you can't get a pet alligator," he interrupted. Tell me that getting headed off at the pass like that doesn't get a 10 year-old kid wondering.
As I got older, he'd share little thing with me. We'd be near a stream with a group of kids fishing. He'd lean over to me and quietly say something like, "See that kid on the rock? In about 5 minutes he's going to get antsy and try and hop over to the other rock next to it. He'll probably fall in."
Five minutes later, splash!
I think the nicest compliment he ever got was said to me. I passed it on to him.
When I finished basic training, my drill sergeant was walking past me and stopped for a minute. He turned and faced me and simply said to me, "Someone did a good job of raising you."
When I passed this on to dad a few days later, he blushed and I'd bet I could have knocked him over with a feather. He also looked proud as a peacock at the same time.
I know he took raising kids very seriously in one vein, yet he treated like a game and a challenge. His mind was constantly running to keep ahead of the game. Years later I asked him how he managed to stay one step ahead of us and he smiled.
"I looked back on being a kid myself, watch you guys and think of what I would have done at your age. Nine times out of ten I'd be pretty close," he said. "Of course, when you would throw me through a loop, I'd have to think fast."
That was a pretty wise statement. I've used it quite a lot to figure people out.
I'll still never know how he figured out I was going to ask him if it was OK to get an alligator, though.
If I had to say where my father is now, I suppose I'd say that his prematurely used up body is rotting in the casket six feet under, but I have a pretty good idea where his soul is. He's back on earth in another body doing what he seemed to do best. He's been gone 29 years and I'd just bet that after God gave him a little R&R he sent him back to do what he was so good at.
Giving him a year of R&R, he'd be 28 now and probably has been married to a decent woman for two or three years now and is already father to a couple of kids with another three or four more coming.
I'll just bet he had another rotten childhood so that he's now hell bent on making sure his kids don't. It seemed to be a pretty good motivator for him when I was a kid.
I'm sure God picked her out. She's the one that would try as hard as she could, but needed a little help with the sons. His wife probably grew up sheltered with no brothers and he's there patiently to her explaining that the boys don't need Little Lord Fauntelroy suits and that jeans are the way to go, and that it is OK for a kid to be a kid.
He's somewhere busting his ass to support a family, involved in the local church and in a few years will be involved in Scouts or some similar program.
I'm sure he's out there doing what he does best. God doesn't like to see talent like that wasted.
I'd love to meet him now. The roles would be reversed. He would be a young idealistic man looking ahead to raising a family and now I am entering old age and am as I write this, older than he was when he died. It would be most interesting to watch him raising his kids today. I'd get to see things that happened to me years ago happen to some other kid and now I'd see it as an adult.
While I miss him, I hope he's doing what he did best and I'm sure there are kids out there that will need him more than I do now as an adult.
my other blog is: http://officerpiccolo.blogspot.com/ http://piccolosbutler.blogspot.com/