Middle Aged

Today's my dad's birthday. He's, uh, middle-aged. So in honor of his special day, here's a list of some his greatest moments:

-- I arrive home from high school one day to find Dad washing his truck. I note that it's winter and the temperature is below freezing. "I don't know if washing your truck today is the best idea, dad." I offer. Dad shrugs me off. Later, as mom and I are sitting down for dinner, Dad comes inside with rosy cheeks. He tells us he's finished washing the truck, but can't pull it into the garage because the doors are frozen shut.

-- Dad's truck-driver labor union is on strike, so we're making good use of his time off and camping at the mouth of the John Day River where it empties into the Columbia. Interstate 84 passes within a few hundred feet of the beach where we spend our days lounging and riding jet skis. One day, as we sit in the stillness of the summer heat, listening to the quiet lapping of water on sand and the distant rumble of sparse traffic on the freeway, Dad spots one of his company trucks speeding by, evidently driven by a picket-line crosser. He cups his hands around his mouth and yells "SCAB!!" I've heard nary a louder sound in all my days. The sound waves kill several seagulls flying too low overhead. We hold a somber memorial service.

-- One day on my mission in Toronto my companion and I are eating Rice-A-Roni for dinner in our basement apartment. There's a knock on the door. Slightly bamboozled because we're not expecting visitors, I pull the door open. Dad is standing there. "Hi," he says. "You guys want dinner?" I stare at him. "Can I come in?" he presses. I stare at him. He nonchalantly meanders into our abode. "Hi!" he says to my comp. "I'm Joe's dad." My companion stares at him. Dad finally explains he had a delivery in Montreal so decided he'd stop by on his way. I glance outside. Dad's massive 18-wheeler is indeed parked along our narrow residential street. A few neighbors are curiously eyeing the hulking semi. I figure Dad's violating thirty or forty parking statutes, but I decide not to care and let him take us out for pizza. After all, I can't think of a tow truck big enough to tow a semi.

-- Mom and Dad are shopping for home improvement goods. Mom is in one aisle, Dad is in the next, and they're talking to one another through the shelves as they search for a particular item. "Val," Dad says to Mom, "have you had any luck over there?" A perky employee approaches Dad. "Can I help you find something?" she chimes. "Is your name Val?" Dad asks. His question is entirely sincere, but obviously sounds snarky. The offended employee storms off. Dad is flummoxed, wondering what he said to so anger the young woman. When he relates the story to Mom, she chuckles, then asks "So, did she look like a Val?" Dad replies, "I don't know. I was too busy looking at her chest." He means he was searching for her name tag, but doesn't think to qualify his statement with this crucial piece of information. Mom is distraught and storms off. Dad doesn't know what set Mom (or the helpful employee) off until several days later when Mom cools down enough to explain it to him.

I could go on, but everyone stopped reading two paragraphs ago. So, happy birthday pa. If you ever learn to use the internet, maybe you'll read this. If not, well, angels are silent notes taking. Tally one for my portfolio of good deeds.