Another View: Dad’s words a fortune for one, a treasure for me

Another View
By: Tony Hazarian, publisher, Auburn Journal
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I know just how Justin Halpern feels. Well, I kinda know how Justin Halpern feels, except I don’t have 1.4 million followers on my Twitter page. I’ve never had a book on the top of the New York Times best-seller list, nor has my life story been turned into a sitcom starring William Shatner. I have, however, moved home between journalism gigs. And I have listened, intently at times, to my father’s wisdom. My dad’s advice might not resonate with the same flair and profanity of Halpern’s pop, Samuel, but the stuff my dad says is with me every day. If you’re not aware, Justin Halpern is the current blogger du jour, the Internet darling who’s gone from underemployed writer to best-selling author in less than a year, thanks to the salty musings of his father. Salty is being polite. Halpern’s Twitter account and subsequent book, which we’ll call “Things My Dad Says” so I can keep my job, is a cultural sensation. Beneath the veil of crass, curmudgeonly passages lies a deep layer of love and affection — the perfect blend of sweet and sour many fathers and sons feel today. Decorum and aversion to angry calls from readers keeps me from listing my favorite “My Dad Says” lines, but here are a few that make the top tier for their wisdom and insight: • “A parent’s only as good as their dumbest kid. If one wins a Nobel Prize but the other gets robbed by a (prostitute), you failed.” • “Son, no one gives a (hoot) about all the things your cell phone does. You didn’t invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that.” • “Just pay the parking ticket. Don’t be so outraged. You’re not a freedom fighter in the civil rights movement. You double parked.” Far sweeter and affectionate, my dad rarely raised his voice in raising five kids, and I can’t remember more than an occasional slip in profanity from him. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t pearls in his fatherly words. Growing up, we lived in moderate fear of getting the “ol’ 42 play,” which could be anything from a noogie to a fork in the hand at dinner. We never knew where the “play” came from, but its mystery kept us in line. As we got older and began hosting our parents for dinner, my dad would compliment the chef — and fire a salvo at the same time. “Oh, this is so delicious. You should open a restaurant … and make some money,” he’d say, meaning we should supplement our low-paying day job as a line order cook at the local diner. “I’ll make you a deal” was another of dad’s catch phrases, often delivered with smiling eyes. Typically, it meant doing some type of labor for a paltry sum, such as cutting both front and back lawns for a quarter or polishing his shoes for a nickel. And he somehow made us feel good for doing it. While dad loved being in charge, he was never afraid to delegate, especially if he was embedded in his recliner, his “gizmo” remote control in hand with a John Wayne movie on TV. “Go ask your mother” was his common response to most questions under such circumstances. Mom, always the foil, was not thrilled by this. Dad would apologize, and then somehow would be able to sweet-talk her into getting him lunch or a snack — never missing an important movie scene. “I’ll just have whatever you’re making for yourself,” he’d say. These days, at 88, he’s sweeter than ever. While his hearing is going and his flexibility isn’t what it used to be, his hugs are heartier. And when he grabs your cheeks and looks you in the eye, you know what’s coming. “I love you ….. sooooo much!” That line brings laughter and tears to his children and grandchildren. This Father’s Day, look at your dad with eyes and ears wide open. Look back, reflect on what he’s said to you, and how he’s said it. You just never know how his words have changed your life.