My dad has a lot of sayings that I will always remember. Things he used to say, things he still says. Things that remind me that he was an “Okie,” or person raised in Oklahoma; that his background is colorful, to say the least; and in some cases, that political correctedness is something that came into being well after he had matured. I’ll skip commentary on the politically incorrect things that sometimes spout of his mouth. It’s an election year, the strangest election year I’ve ever seen, and I’ve had enough of politics, and talk about what people should and shouldn’t say.
Here are ten of my favorite things my dad has said repeatedly, in no particular order:
1. “Come and get it, before I throw it out to the hogs…” My father used to yell to us kids to get us to come to supper. There was most always a threat to feed our dinner to the hogs. This was largely an idle threat; we did not live on a farm. (Yes, I was raised in Wisconsin, and yes, there are actual cities—though they may not be far from places with tractors and manure smells, none of our neighbors had any hogs, either.) I don’t think he had any hogs growing up. His father was a salesman (among other things) and I don’t know who had the hogs, or where the saying came from, but obviously, this is something he heard from someone else at some point, because who would threaten to feed hogs over their own children unless they heard it somewhere else? True, my father is extraordinarily creative. But I suspect a grandparent or uncle actually had hogs, or the neighbors had hogs, or people just went around saying this. Our dinner was never given to the hogs. Or dogs. Or anyone else, but we loved hearing him clang a fork around the inside of a glass and yell at us, and we never gave him the chance to fed our dinner to hogs, just in case he wasn’t bluffing.
2. “There’s a whole world out there waiting to throw rocks at you.” This is a two part saying. My larger-than-life dad reminds me of a number of iconic characters from film and television rolled into one. Most times, I think of Andy Griffith in Mayberry: the gentle, agreeable, unpresuming but wise sheriff. But there’s a little Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry, because my dad is a tough guy and a bit of a cowboy; and quite a lot of Ewan McGregor in the movie Big Fish, about a dad who loves to tell stories that he actually lived in a remarkable life that his children had assumed was mostly fiction. (This leads to favorite quote #3, but I don’t want to jump ahead.) So when my dad says “There’s a whole world…” it is usually a Mayberry moment; the point in the sitcom where the lesson has been learned and Andy is about to preach and teach. I turn to my dad when I feel blue. And he says, “There’s no reason you have to help them out any.” This is a saying his grandfather told him. There’s a whole world waiting to throw rocks at you. Stop beating yourself up, kid.
3. “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” Not sure where Dad got this one from, but I assign full responsibility for the outcome of accepting my father’s mantra as a commandment squarely on his shoulders. Thankfully, he’s done enough good deeds over the years that when the tally is done, he’ll still probably get away with the many lives that have been ruined as the result of his bad influence. Besides, old Billy H doesn’t want anybody down there who can compete with HIM in the whopper department.
4. “So hot you could crack an egg on the pavement.” This one more or less speaks for itself. It’s an idiom. As opposed to an idiot. An idiot is someone who actually tries to fry on egg on the pavement after hearing it’s hot enough to do so.
5. This one is a song. It’s probably a drinking song, because I can’t imagine sober people, other than my father, willingly singing this. It goes: “I eat when I’m hungry, I drink when I’m dry; if a tree don’t fall over me, I’ll live til I die.” This goes on the list because I must have heard my father sing this song at least one hundred times. Yes. Over the course of many years, this morbidly bizarre canticle would just stream out of his mouth intermittently and without warning. As my mother and father would both tell you, warning that my father was about to sing would have been enough to clear a room.
6. Actually, that’s not very nice—what I just said about his singing voice. (I’m not trying to be nice though, because after so many years of cloying Father’s Day drivel, I thought my father deserved something less predictable, and I thought I would try my hand at being funny.) It’s a lot more pressure to be funny, and I blame Dad for this too. A couple of weeks ago, he reminded me about the my dad is the best dad ever website, just mentioned how he keeps reading it when ever he wants to feel good, how it makes him feel warm all over—and oh, this just happened to be less than two weeks before Father’s Day, so it’s not as if he was hinting that he expected THIS YEAR to be EVEN BETTER than all the other years combined? Oh, sure, no pressure. None whatsoever. So for number six, I am going to list another song. “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.” There may not be another human on earth who would say the same thing, but I would rather listen to Jim Cue sing “Irish Eyes” (or “Too La Lu La Loo Ra”) a Capella than Bing Crosby with a full orchestra any day. But, since the rest of the world may not be ready for that, here’s Bing Crosby:
My dad’s version may not be quite so polished, but hearing this song brings my dad’s voice to mind and to me there is no person who could ever sound so beautiful singing this song. And so there you have it, love is not only blind, but it’s tone deaf, to boot.
7. “Okie dokey.” I read on a website of Okie-isms that Okies actually say “okie dokie.” At least I think it was an Okie-ism website, and not someone’s list of “things old people say,” but if it was “things old people say,” we can just make that our little secret. Dad is NOT old. He’s had so many of those days you “wouldn’t wish on a dog,” that he figures the calendar doesn’t deserve them either. He’s in his mid-fifties by this rational form of chronological tabulation. My dad calls while I am working on this list, and he actually says “okie dokey” twice. Along with telling me they had milk and cookies for the priesthood holders at church today, and then all the men told stories about how great their fathers were, and my dad had nothing to say. “I couldn’t tell them how he came after me with a switch a few weeks after my seventeenth birthday and I picked up a baseball bat and told him if he ever touched me again I would break his g-d legs,” he said. “I didn’t want to talk about that in church. Or anywhere.” So that was kind of a buzzkill for the funny fest I was having while making this list, but it didn’t escape me that he said “okie dokey” as I had just been reading the list of things old people—eh, I mean Okies, say, and trying to remember if he said that or not or if I was just imagining he said that.
Nor does it escape me that my dad was fun, and funny, because the one thing he wanted out of life was to be a better example of a man than the one he was born to. His dad cheated on his mom; he was loyal to my mother. His dad took advantage of young, women; he helped young women escape abusive situations and went above and beyond the call of duty on several instances as a taxi driver. But now this list is starting to sound all mushy and kind of like the last few years of posts, all serious and dramatic, and I don’t want anyone crying, I just want everyone to have a good laugh. It’s a hundred degrees in Los Angeles today. That is way too hot for heavy emotion. It’s also too hot for my computer to work properly: it shut down for 90 minutes and gave continual error messages about calling the technicians in Bangladesh and promising to sacrifice a chicken while I ignored the error messages that said my computer was never, ever, ever going to work again by putting my ears over my head and saying “blah blah blah I can’t hear you” while holding my laptop directly in front of the air conditioner and restarting it over until I finally gave up and starting screaming that I needed to go to a mall or a swimming pool because “I can’t take it anymore, my computer isn’t working and the only thing I wanted to do is this website update for my dad and now everything is ruined and it’s so hot we’re all going to die!” While wallowing in my paroxysm of heat-induced melodrama, my computer decided to be normal again. Tricky psychological voodoo, used I. (Yes, that’s me talking like Yoda.) During the same phone call with my dad I said I was working on “something” on my computer, “I bet you can’t guess what,” and he ignored me and kept on telling me a story that allegedly occurred in 1951, when turn signals were optional in cars, and a woman got hit by a man who claimed to not see her put her hand out the window. “If it had been my leg, you wouldn’t have missed it,” the cheeky broad wisecracked. I don’t know how many times I have heard this story from my dad, it’s one that has popped up a few times in the last 12 months. Also in the last 12 months, I did something almost right, I helped my dad get his book published on Lulu…Still needs a few minor edits because I screwed up the table of contents and misspelled “acknowledgements,” but no one’s perfect. That thing about rocks, right Dad? Anyway, I’ll fix it, soon. Promise. Capiche? That’s Italian, not Okie, but he seems to have picked it up somewhere, and he says it all the time. He also picked up “whatever” back in the ’90s. And, finally, last year, my mom made him get a smart phone. But he still hates Facebook.
8. “One, two, tree!” When I was learning to count, and long after I had learned to count, my dad would ask what that big number that comes after two is. Trees, he would explain, have leaves and grow outside. Trees are wonderful, but they have nothing to do with ones and twos. Later, much much later, my acting coach made me say “this, that, and these” over and over—apparently there was something wrong by that time with the way I pronounced the “th” sound. I’m sure this is my father’s fault, too. As is my innate confidence that men will adore me, no matter how stupidly I behave. As the only daughter, I was “the apple of” my father’s eye. Angels undoubtedly brought me down from heaven on a deluxe cloud-mobile and right into Daddy’s arms. (That’s sort of true: my father was in the delivery room; it was my younger brother, born at home, that he actually delivered, but, hey, see #3.)
9. “Madder than a wet hen.” The only time in my life I have heard anyone use the phrase “madder than a wet hen” was when my father was warning me to steer clear of mother. Mom doesn’t get too angry too often, but he liked having an excuse to say “madder than a wet hen.” This is apparently an actual thing, where farmers used to dunk female chickens in cold water to calm them down so they could take their eggs, but it seems to have been counter productive or the phrase wouldn’t exist. So these cruel farmers just liked to take the eggs and get the chickens mad too.
10. “Cost you a nickel.” I owe Dad approximately 1300 nickels for every time I’ve asked to talk to Mom on the phone. I tell him to put it on my tab. He hasn’t figured out yet that I have no intention of paying. Ever.
BONUS ITEMS: Yes, this was supposed to be a list of ten things, because the Internet loves lists of ten and top ten lists, but I am on a roll of sorts, so I’ll keep going.
11. There’s a standard response to the question, “Hi Dad, how are you?” It is “Oh, as big as life and about twice again as onery.” When I manage to throw it back at him, by saying it first in another conversation, it makes him laugh.
12. “Love you.” This was not something my dad heard growing up, and for a long time, he had a hard time saying it. He didn’t say it to his first wife, who died of cancer, before he met my mom, or had any children of his own. But he made sure that she, I, and my brothers, heard it every day. There’s probably no phrase that he said more often, except…
13. “Our Father in Heaven, we thank Thee, Oh Lord, for Thy many blessings…” My parents are LDS, which means they literally cannot get enough church. We went to church for three hours on Sundays. That is a very, very long time to sit in a building that smells like baby diapers, because everyone is always having babies. We had Family Home Evenings on Mondays, and as often as not, special events on Wednesdays and Saturdays, too. I don’t think any group out there can out-church the Mormons. There are morning prayers, prayers before meals, and evening prayers. That is just the basic bare minimum amount of prayers. Then when things go wrong, you have special kinds of prayers, and blessings. Though I am, by my own admission, a lousy Mormon today, I still get blessings from my dad because it makes me feel good, though so far it has not been effective in transforming me into a person who can voluntarily endure the sheer amount of churching required by the faith more than a couple times a year, on holidays. But I have heard my dad pray so many times, that it is probably the one thing aside from his Okie-isms and other forms of malarkey that I most associate with Dad and with being loved. Because (deep down) I never really had to wonder if my Dad loved me (oh drat, there’s that sentimental tear starting to well up). Most 99% of the time, Dad’s prayers start with being thankful for our blessings. I heard it so many times and maybe it was like I heard it so many times I never heard it, so just to rub it in, this year on New Year’s when I went to church with Mom and Dad, he got up and bore his testimony about how thankful he was for all that Heavenly Father had done and will do for him. I guess that Dad doesn’t take anything for granted, he appreciates life, and he gives God all the credit. I don’t know what else to say to that because I didn’t want to start crying, because just thinking about my dad and how much I love him sometimes does that to me, makes me cry. I didn’t make a separate website for my mom, not yet anyway, but I also feel that way about her, she’s just not as corny as my dad so I send her orchids on Mother’s Day instead of pouring my heart out on a blog. Most of the time when I pray though, I thank God first off for my parents being alive and well, because I love them so much, and I am so thankful for the time we have to spend together. That’s it.
Happy Father’s Day!
One of these days I will do a site upgrade. The design, I know, needs work. (Editor’s note: side was switched over to WordPress in 2018; all posts are wrongly dated 2018 as a result.)