The distrust I felt for my father began at a very young age.
Even then I sensed that something was wrong.
This is the type of man who would say, “Son, don’t worry…I won’t let go,” and as soon as I would take the dive, he would do the one thing he promised not to do.
To learn how to swim, he would say, you’ve got to do it on your own. This became a common refrain, the main justification for his many “harmless” lies.
Just in case you were curious, this is Rule #4 contained in the Larry Paek Handbook on Parenting.
Rule #4: Lie to your child to make him do what you want.
In a marketplace flooded by Idiot’s Guides, this would be a bestseller.
In his defense, I think he always knew that he wasn’t meant to be a dad in the conventional sense. “Parental presence” is more like it. Or perhaps, “Older male, goofy friend” would be the most apt portrayal.
The funny thing is, we ALL have a friend like him. They’re the ones we shake our heads at in disbelief, exasperation, probably a little bit of frustration, but always, always just endearing enough to keep them around. They make you laugh, but only unintentionally, for they don’t have the wit or the humor to do it on purpose.
We all have a friend like that, don’t we?
Mine just so happens to be my dad, who I’ve dubbed the King of Unintentional Comedy.
He’ll be the one in a theatre full of people, roaring in laughter at those gimmicky “Please turn off your cell phone”sketches. Then, in the most important part of the movie, that’s when you’ll hear the brass, vibrant shrill of my dad’s default Nokia ringtone.
He has many other such similar talents. Like his ability to stare straight in your eyes when you’re talking to him, only for him to ask a question that makes it abundantly clear that he wasn’t listening to you at all.
Or his ability to happily munch away at dried squid, despite the pungent odors seeping through a crowded movie theatre.
Or perhaps his English skills, which after 20 years of living in the United States, is inexplicably and amazingly getting worse. With all the trouble the man has had with his L’s and his R’s, I consider it the height of all unintentional comedy that he opted for ‘Larry’, a name that would haunt his linguistically challenged tongue for years to come.
My favorite of these fatherly talents, is his uncanny ability to fall asleep at the drop of a hat. The difference between this skill and narcolepsy is only a matter of will. Whereas narcoleptics can’t control when and where they fall asleep, my dad has complete control over his sleep destiny.
It comes in handy, of course, in this daily grind we call life. Be it an earthquake, a massive brushfire, or the Second Coming of Christ, my dad can power nap through it as if he were watching romantic comedies with his wife.
I’ve literally had conversations with him face-to-face where he would nod off in the middle of my sentence. The man can even manage to fall asleep when he’s exercising.
For instance, I remember a few years ago, we bought one of those large medicine balls. He comes home and he’s curious about what it is and how it works.
I explain to him that you get on the ball and work your abs. I even demonstrated it for him. I tell him to give it a try.
I left him to it as he attempted to mount the ball. When I came back into the room, this is what I found.
To his credit, he did manage to get his hand on the ball before he fell asleep.
They say that a man who sleeps soundly has himself a clear conscience. It’s in this that my dad finds his most redeeming quality. He sleeps with his pride comfortably in tact, because he lives in a way that doesn’t necessitate pride at all.
Whatever the world says about this or that, he’ll look at it with that blank, inquisitive stare and do it his own way anyways.
We all have a friend like that.
Mine just so happens to be my dad.