Lifestyle & Culture > Accidental Holiday

Accidental Holiday

Published: June 20, 2010

Perhaps that is not right. Maybe 'Equal Rights Holiday' is a better term. You know Mother's Day is the real holiday. Hallmark must have been behind this one, as no one else really gets behind it. And with good reason. Case in point, my oldest daughter Alison is down for the weekend. She notices there is an issue with my right heel and what with this being a paternal holiday she feigns interest and inquires

"Hey Dad what is going on with your heel?"

"Oh I get these bumps that fill with fluid and then I pop them and then after a while all the skin flakes off."


"Oh no worries, its clear fluid, there is no bacterial infection. I mean I know it looks like leprosy, but really it's not. The doc can give me pills, but the side effects are even worse than that necrotic looking stuff you see right there below the ankle bone."

"Oh, um, glad I asked."

You see, there is the the problem. You ask a Dad a question, you get a straight answer that you may not want to hear. With a Mom, she'll BS and make you feel good. Dad's...well, there is a good reason we get neckties for FD.

But, in spite of my congenital dadness, I'm having a great day.

I spent 2 or 3 hours cleaning out the hot tub this morning. Now that may not sound like fun to you, but it is manual labor that makes my life better. I like that. After all the grind, I have sparkling clear water in the tub. Water that I'll get back to later. To me that is the essence of dadness. You do the delayed gratification stuff all the time. But today, the delay is less lengthy.

There are a lot of things I like about my daughter. Numbered among them is the fact that she has great taste in music. Saturday on the way back from the oyster fest she asks if I mind stopping at a music store. No problem. We stop at M-theory. Nice name on many levels. I drive by this place coming home from work daily, but have never stopped in. She buys a CD from a band I never heard of. Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes.

Ok, I thought I'd never heard of them. About halfway through the disc is a song I heard once or twice while driving maybe. Never really listened to it. The song is called Home. It is right up there with a song the Talking Heads did by the title. The T Heads song brought me to tears a few decades a go. This did the same today. I was listening to it in my backyard after my bike ride. It was one of those moments where I was both happy to be alive and so annoyed that I'm mortal...imagining all the other great performances that will occur after I'm gone. But I'm here for this one. And it's an all-world performance for me. Alison tells me the band has only made one CD...and they sold out their show at Santa Barbara. Just one more great thing about America, we know a good thing when we hear it.

There aren't a lot of people I'd like to have in my house. Pulling up the video of this song on youtube, I'd say most of the band would not fit in well with my house. But the female who sings the duet, her I could tolerate for a bit. The voice is perfect and the energy is unstoppable. I'd rent her my spare bedroom in exchange for her singing- that is what I'm saying here. She won't need it, but yeah, that would be a space invader I'd be OK with at least until I got tired of the song.

After I get over the song, I go in search of a wine for the afternoon. I tend to drink my young wines and hold on to the old one for special occasions. Then I periodically remember that I don't have many special occasions and so I take a random day like Father's Day and decide that is a special occasion. So there you have it. I opened a '99 Andrus. I don't have a lot of wines that sell for over $100. Maybe 10 bottles. This was the only one left from the 90's.

Wow. It is just brilliant. As brilliant as the sun in San Diego today. As brilliant as the water in my hot tub. I'm sitting in the tub not stunned, but close to it. The idea that fortune took a mere 42 years to move me from a janitor in Pennsylvania to a professor in San Diego who was drinking this wine in a hot tub.

I tell students in my classes that life isn't fair, and this is as good as evidence of that as anything. Actually, I tell my students lots of stuff that I've learned over the years. There is the stuff I have to tell them, the content of the class that they must learn. Then I try to pass on as much of the valuable stuff as possible in between the content. Sure, it matters that E=mc^2 and that E=I*R and that F=M*A. But I can't tell you what Professor told me those things. The guys I remember are the guys who told me the odd stuff, Professor Robinson saying "At some point, you get to where you don't need professors any more, you can teach yourself". Or Professor Carpenter recommending "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". Or professor Shaeffer saying "All good construction men are impatient" then pausing to think of all the good construction men he knew, then nodding and saying "Yes, that's right."

My students are my kids for a week or two. They don't know that. The think they are just students, or workers on break from their jobs. I don't try to break the illusion. I was talking to them about incentives this week, I told them that while money incents some people, it doesn't incent me. No one followed up to ask what does incent me, which was only mildly disappointing. I'd like them to have more curiosity, but they are what they are now. Maybe one day they will start to pull the threads that I lay out there. This group just wasn't there yet. I had to respect that.

But I do hope that something I do in the classroom sticks. That 10 or 20 or 30 years from now, they hear my voice and smile. It's a lot to hope for, but that is why I go to work. That is what incents me, the idea that what I've picked up in my last 42 years of working might do someone else some good, that they might do better one day for having spent a couple weeks in a class with me. I won't know it because I won't be there the day that happens, but that would be one hell of a fathers day present.

But in lieu of that, I have my song for the day. And my wine. And my daughter in the kitchen right now roasting a chicken. That is my cake. And if that cake gets iced a few decades down the road, so be it. But if not, its still a pretty good cake for this accidental holiday.

Any Comments?


» Something Interesting

Home Brew, Round Two

Published: May 17, 2012

Technically, I'm not a moonshiner-this time.

Who ordered fish?

Published: May 10, 2012

The cafe where the fish eat you.