Of all the things I wish to be proud of this month, there is no doubt I am proud to be a papa. I often wonder if my own dad is proud of me.
I hadn't planned on really getting anything for my dad. Not because I don't love him, but simply because I often don't even give things like Christmas or birthday presents. Besides, being extremely broke, it's hard to get something for someone who may not appreciate it...
Consider this: We gave him the movie Finding Forrester for a present one year on DVD. He did watch it, decided it had too much bad language or didn't really mesh with his beliefs or maybe he just plain didn't like it. Which I didn't really understand, but it's fine, whatever. However, in his true neurotic fashion, he thought it best that he should just...give it back to get it out of his house. My wife has always had a hard time dealing with him because of things like this. To me it was unsurprising and I've tried to explain his behavior. But to some souls, to return a present that you just don't like to the giver, seems more the sure-fire method of being intentionally insulting. He didn't quite get that. Way to boost my wife's self esteem there, dad. A lot of retail stores won't even take it back because someone "didn't like it."
So, I wasn't going to push myself into getting a gift. I did plan long ago on making a mix CD for him. The trick with him, is that I can't give him things raucous, experimental, angsty or with anything remotely resembling distortion, since he's an old dog now and simply wouldn't dig all that noise. I know that's awful to say. It's also sad because he's the one who instilled in me the diverse musical catalogue that existed outside of pop radio. Symphonies, jazz, folk, odd vocal music, and exotic instruments from far off lands. Since then, I've been on an ongoing quest to please that harshest of music critics. Eternally jotting mental notes about juxtapositions regarding rhythms and harmonies and sonic curiosities that are intriguing but not out of his own audible spectrum.
This comes from his college endeavor to become a band director. With more than enough credits and a semester to go under his belt, he become overwhelmed and never finished. (Proof that history does indeed repeat itself.) He's way too talented in music theory as well, he'd often break the curve in the class. I remember my attempted piano lessons with him were often given up when I really didn't care what a major fifth was and I just wanted to play Gershwin and Shostakovich pieces with all those notes that made the score seem like it had the severe chicken pox. He plays the piano, guitar, trumpet and those things he didn't know he could pick up and figure out. He once made a poster advertising musician for hire "anything but the bagpipes." He even wrote a song for me and my sister. If I can find the words someday I'll post the lyrics.
Back to the task at hand, at least this way there's no reason for giving me a mix CD back since, I already own all the music in order to make the mix. But then I never got around to putting it together. The problem (read excuse) is, just about every bit of music I own is at work right now. Work is 45 minutes away, it's Sunday morning, I only have dialup at home so I don't have enough time to download mp3s of things I already had in mind, etc. But lying in bed this morning, feeling lethargic, lonely and particularly drained from the heat, I got a bug in my ear that started dragging me out of the bed, whipped me onto the floor and body checked me into the CD rack. Lo and behold, there was a stack that I brought home and forgot about until now.
I don't believe in signs. But alright, fine then, I took the challenge. And somehow, even though my selections were thoroughly limited and not close to what was on my mental list, I came up with an intersection of our musical tastes that was exactly what I was looking for. It seems that all the best things I come up with are at the last minute. Like down-to-the-wire, gun-in-my-back, do-it-or-I-breaka-you-face, last minute. So with it, I made a tray card that doubled as a Father's Day card, complete with a few original sketches and the following note:
Of all the things
I have learned from you,
I appreciate your instilling the power of music
on this planet,
and in my life.
Here are some songs that I hope you will enjoy as much as I do.
Happy Dad's Day
Sunrise - Norah Jones
Man In The Long Black Coat - Joan Osborne
Weather Channel - Sheryl Crow
Time and Good Fortune - Duncan Sheik
Emaline - Ben Folds
No Surprises - Radiohead
Beauty Mark - Rufus Wainwright
Cry Me A River - Diana Krall
Humble Me - Norah Jones
Truth - Neil Finn
Angel Standing By - Jewel
Tiny Dancer - Ben Folds
Requiescat - Duncan Sheik
Dinner At Eight - Rufus Wainwright
True it's not really upbeat or all that obscure but I'm satisfied with it. So who knows, if he doesn't give it back, perhaps I'll make him another, we'll see how it goes. He did light up when he found out the doodles I was making at breakfast this morning were for him and not the waitress.
As for me and my monkeys?
It was a good time today. My wife and boys got me a mini George Foreman grill (probably the most dad-like gift I've ever gotten). And homemade cards attached to some odd monuments consisting of a mirror set in plaster that wasn't quite dry yet and a photo of each monkey in the center. Monkey No. 2 gave his to me via training for the Olympic discus throw but somehow it didn't break. And my elder Monkey ordered that I remain with him the rest of the day instead of going to work. I so desperately needed to go to work this weekend. But I didn't. Which I'll be paying for soon I imagine. But at this moment I'm not caring all that much.
We ended up all going to a karaoke party at a British pub later in the evening, with my wife's family. I'm still sick and both my ears are blocked so I wasn't going to sing fearing I'd end up mumbling incoherently. But afterwards I got compliments about sounding like John Mayer, who indeed still mumbles but in a positive way. Strangely, I think I like karaoke.
Oh, the lives we lead and their many strange treasures.