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Thursday, 3 June 2010

POP PSYCHOLOGY

Anyone who reckons that kids say the darndest things hasn't had a conversation with my father.

You know that saying "dad jokes"? Those irritating, repetitive comments made by fathers globally that are marked by two distinct features. They are not funny and they become less funny the more they are repeated.

Here's an example. You give dad a bottle of wine for Christmas and he shakes it saying, "I know, I know! It's a book!"

He looks at the roast that mum has just pulled out of the oven, casts a glance at the kids, picks the serving plate up and says, "I'm not sure what you lot are eating for dinner, but here's mine."

My dad is one of those dads. He indisputably believes he is funny. He has this repertoire of jokes which he has been repeating with appalling regularity.

Take Christmas Day lunch. My mother painstakingly bakes this plum pudding then goes about shoving all manner of imperial coinage into its centre. The task being that as we eat, we chorus over who scored a shilling and who got a sixpence. (Go figure.)

Not so for dad. He's eating away, aware that nobody is paying him the slightest bit of notice, when he starts this phoney coughing routine. After a few good snorts and the satisfaction of having grabbed everyone's attention, he makes a big production of pulling money from his mouth - except it's a $20 note not a 20 pence coin that he's carefully hidden in his hand.

He brought new meaning to Norman Lindsay's "The Magic Pudding". The wrong meaning.

It is interesting to note that as higher denominations were introduced by the government, so dad introduced them to us at the Christmas table. When the $100 note hit mainstream currency, we knew we only had to wait till Christmas to see it

We've also been through Bankcard, Mastercard, Visa, Platinum Amex, Diners, Medicare, Qantas Club, Fly Buys and more recently, the Seniors Card, all apparently excavated from dad's pudding. Along the way was a DJs card, Myer card, Harvey Norman card - exactly how many credit cards does my father have?

Every time we go over a speed bump in the car he hollers "oh, there go my false teeth". Every time we drive past a cemetery he comments "people are dying to get in there".

Once we were driving down a street like quite normal people when he pulled up suddenly. "What's the matter dad?" I foolishly asked. "There's an ant crossing."

Dads are biological necessities but social accidents. They're always getting excited about something. When I moved into my first flat (yes, it was a flat, not a townhouse, not an apartment, not a unit - but I was poor) I did the right thing and had mum and dad over for dinner.

Excited or what! He rang me every morning for a week to tell me that he was bringing my favourite bottle of bubbles (tragically, at the age of 19 it was Asti Riccadonna, don't hate me). He rang every afternoon for a week to tell me mum was making a lasagne to bring (tragically, at the age of 19, I couldn't cook and mum had to supply the food, don't hate me).

It's only dinner dad, I would placate, not an audience with Oprah.

Dads are also very good at being protective of their daughters. Sons don't bother them so much.

At the tender age of 16, my brother did not come home for two nights following a win in his soccer grand final. Now, this is 1979 in the Pre-Mobile Phone Era. Was dad worried?

But when I went to my school dances, dad would unashamedly walk into the hall 15 minutes before finishing time and come looking for me. Once, I was doing something naughty like having a fag in the loo or pashing a boy under a table, and heard my dad's voice over the speaker, "Bronwyn, this is your father, come home with me now please."

I would rather have been at work and heard Osama bin Laden's voice on the PA system saying, "This is your building security manager speaking."

Dads have patience. In the swimming pool, my father would stand astride about two metres from the pool edge for seemingly hours, so his three children in military order could dive in and swim between his legs.

I tried it once with my daughter when she was about six. I grew bored by the third dive even though I was holding my wine, and had to get her father to relieve me. Of course, as he was a dad, he was fittingly capable of remaining in that position all afternoon or until our young princess grew weary - whichever came first.

In my defence, I brought him a beer and the cricket score.

They also have a touch of Captain Obvious. One time dad rang me when I was in my doctor's waiting room. After telling him where I was he replied "so are you waiting to see the doctor?" Or when I hand him a cup of tea he says "is that for me?"

"No dad, it's for the guy next door. He sells vacuum cleaners for a living, listens to AM and is completely hairless but I'm attracted to him.

"Of course it's bloody well for you! "

Save the earth. Not only is it the only planet with chocolate, it's the only planet with dads.

Love you dad xxx

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