Father’s Day Tribute: The Butt of All Jokes
In celebration of Father’s Day, here’s a piece I wrote three years ago for my dad:
The Butt of All Jokes
Growing up, my Pops always tried so hard to be funny. It was like he imagined himself the opening act of some stand-up comedian tour de force.
But no matter how much he tried, his jokes would either end up gross or insensitive (or grossly insensitive). Just plain unfunny.
Still, he would try again –
“Sarah, what do you call a deer with no eye?
…No-eye deer [no idea]! Get it? Hahahaha”
“Sarah, what do you call a person who only eats seafood?
…On a see-food diet! Hahahaha”
Crickets chirped and coyotes yelped, but still Pops would fail to elicit a laugh from us. Blank stares ensued around the dinner table, or nervous tittering.
It was even worse in the company of co-workers or relatives. They would typically crack a crooked smile or laugh softly to be polite. The thing is, my father was blissfully unaware that people were laughing AT him rather than WITH him. Of course, I wanted to punch them in the face for daring to diss Pops like that. It was only OK for us – his fam – to make fun of him.
Mom recounts one incident at the supermarket. She and Pops were browsing around for meat. Mom pointed out that the beef looked fresh and was a good price. But Pops had his eye on something else: butt.
Pork butt, that is.
His adoring eyes caressed the butt as he gingerly lifted the package. Head cocked to the side in mid-decision.
…gazing lovingly at the butt.
He nodded his head.
“Mm, but the pork is more versatile. I like butt more.” He swiped a package of it, plopped it into the shopping cart, and wheeled away to the next aisle.
Yes, my Pops is cute after all.
Or how about that childish scream of is?
It’s a high-pitched whiny kind of “AHHHHHHHH” that is oft-imitated by my sister and I, but we can never really get it right. Maybe because we’re not whiny. This scream starts from the gut and works its way up into the back of the throat until it unleashes a wild frenzy of pigs flying off a cliff, up up and away!
At least, that’s the image that comes to mind.
I wish I could insert a sound clip here so you folks will get what I’m referring to, but alas – such 3D interaction does not exist on a flat page. You will have to hear it in person.
My dad sometimes behaves like a wannabe lead singer of some 80s pop-rock cover band. As such, he will frequently croon loud renditions of Lady Gaga [“RA-RA, Oo la la”] or Bruno Mars. It’s “just the way we are.” I coached him over and over again on the chorus until he got the wording right: once. Needless to say, I hated hearing the song every time it came on the radio because I was reminded of repeating it ad nauseam to make Pops understand it. And even then, he’d sing
“There is not a thingggg — ”
“There’s not, Pops – it’s there’s not!” – I interjected.
And again: “There is not a thingggggg — ”
But in truth, I love my Pops. His humorous take on songs and his kiddy voices and puppy-dog face are rather endearing to me.
So Pops, don’t try so hard to be funny. You are whimsical and amusing in your own way, especially when no effort is involved. After all, your just being yourself is the funniest act you could pull.
Happy Father’s Day!
Thanks Pops for teaching me to be confident in who I am, to work hard and never stop believing in the possibilities. I admire you because you don’t apologize for who are, whether that means telling corny jokes or test-driving new languages, such as Spanish and Portuguese, on your co-workers (correct pronunciation or not). From your example, I learned to try my best and not be embarrassed by my efforts, even if I made mistakes along the way – for it’s the ones who never try that truly fail in life.
Comfort is overrated. Through your life, I’ve witnessed how resilience and perseverance can pay off. And how to nurture a dream.