Sunday, June 20th, 2010
Father’s Day! The day we all take pause and think about what our dear dads have taught us. In my case, my Dad taught me a heck of a lot, like how to read, write, drive, forgive and forget, and mostly, how to have fun. It’s the latter that I probably appreciate the most about the man. He always wants everyone to get along, have fun, and enjoy the little things. If a bomb were to go off next to him, he would just offer to make everyone a gourmet sandwich and ask if perchance someone was up for a game of tennis.
My dad, like Stacey’s, was a career newspaper man and he made me read and write so much, I’m surprised I didn’t develop carpal tunnel at age 10. But it sure helped in the long run. He also taught me that appliances shouldn’t be replaced until they haven’t worked for over five years, how to choose a honeydew through his scientific tapping method and why we should like everyone.
I had an ex-boyfriend who once told me that I would kill my grandmother if it made a good story. And while that was a stretch, I really do love to live a life that makes for an entertaining dinner party narrative. I definitely have my Dad to thank for that. He always supported me when I made announcements like, “I want to ride a donkey through Romania for the summer!” After all, this is a man who was hit on by the Beat poet Alan Ginsburg and said no. WHAT!!?? No to an icon? I know it’s not his thing, but couldn’t he have just partook to make literary history? Oh well, the fact that he even met Ginsburg really is good enough for me.
Dad, thanks for making me smarter, chiller, sillier and an overall better person. You’re the bestest – happy Father’s Day!
Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
This weekend I read that it was the 50th anniversary of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” 50th! Wow. Harper Lee is currently 84, which means she wrote Mockingbird when she was only 34. Writing a book that stuck in the minds of millions of Americans at that age is a rather impressive feat, and its endurance is another.
There were articles in the Washington Post and New York Times this weekend about Mockingbird’s anniversary and also about Monroeville, the tiny Alabama town where Lee is from. Just shy of 7000 people, it’s pretty amazing that both Harper Lee and Truman Capote came from Monroeville. If I ever go there I am going to bathe in absolutely any body of water I can find – puddle, kitchen sink. There just has to be genius in that water.
Weirdly, a lot of my friends and I seem to be on a southern kick lately. I think it’s living smack dab on the Mason-Dixon line that makes you want to grasp for a little cultural identity. It’s hard to be from a place where our charm comes in the form of shady politicians who do the naked pretzel with anything that wiggles. We want some of that southern charm, or northern charisma – anything! So when my friend Lauren (of vaginal refreshing spray fame), came back from Charleston, South Carolina this weekend singing Dixie and ready to move down river, it made me think about southern writers and Harper Lee.
Lauren is from Ohio and all she could talk about was the splendors of the south. “Like Venice in America!” she declared. But to me, so much of that charm is delivered on paper, as I have seen very little of the south that does not come to me in book or magazine form. So here’s to Lee, who brought the south up to me when I was busy being a hormonal high schooler. I can’t think of better required reading.
This is the edition I read in high school and that cover will always stick with me. What a dame that Harper Lee.
Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
I actually met Miss Manners for the first time at a funeral. Horrid circumstances but definitely one that requires impeccable manners. A former Washington Post reporter had sadly passed and I went along with my Dad to pay homage to his colleague. Now good things don’t usually happen at funerals, but at this particular one, I got to meet Miss Manners. Not just meet, I got to sit right next to her! That is if you don’t count my father sitting between us and hogging all the attention.
As I sat and pretended to listen to the moving words being said, I cursed myself for not starching my entire outfit. Why hadn’t I ironed creases into my tee-shirt or shined my shoes until they reflected the sun? Miss Manners was never going to like me!
While my father chatted with her about days gone by, I shuddered with joy at this lovely seating arrangement and casually jotted down a few thousand mental notes about absolutely everything Miss Manners did, said, and wore (black dress, black hat with fantastic floral flourish, black alligator purse with white kidskin gloves hanging out of the pocket just so).
Since becoming Miss Manners’ BFF, I have run into her a few times at events around town (well we are best friends) and still marvel at her high priestess of politeness ways. I do strive to be like her one day, but I should probably stop telling people they are dangerously obese when they eat carbs first.
Maybe handwriting 365 thank you notes will help my cause…
F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S. Miss Manners makes knowing the red wine glass from the white wine glass an art.
Saturday, November 28th, 2009
It just so happens that both Stacey and I were reared by lifelong newspapermen. My dad worked at The Washington Post for nearly 40 years and as an editor of the newspaper’s book section since its inception. Wonderful with words and impractical ideas, my dad is pretty darn bad at home repair projects that involve tools other than a pen. If I want something that’s almost broken to be broken beyond repair, he’s the man to call.
When a bat found itself trapped in our dining room years ago, my father donned a getup suitable for space travel, attached several pillowcases to a coat hanger and went after the creature of the night. When our family’s oven ceased to work, he purchased several top-notch freestanding ovens to avoid having ours fixed. And to this day, my mother’s curtains lean drastically to the left because my dad was positive he could hang them better than any “overpriced professional.”
Over the years, I have come to appreciate his desire to right the wrongs with his own hands before crying for help. Sure embracing this life lesson means I have been crushed by air conditioning units and almost sawed off my arm taking down a pesky dogwood, but heck. God gave me two hands and just like my Dad, I am going to accidentally break things with them.
This is the latch that my father kindly put on my door because I'm scared of ghouls. While the lock brings me great peace, the doorframe has seen better days.
Now this is where my Dad shines! Give him a keyboard and some time, and he will create something beautiful without injuring himself or his family.