Advice from My Father

7 Mar

My father is a smart man.

He was raised in a time before cell phones, the internet, mp3’s, and fire. He doesn’t have a facebook and doesn’t text. His cell phone has a rotary dial.

It was a simpler philosophy that ruled my father’s generation–a philosophy that had so much less gray area–so much less relativism. It’s this fact that so often leads me to seek his advice.

I’ve been having a bit of an existential crisis since I graduated. For some reason, employers just cannot find a way to give one tiny rat shit about how much Fitzgerald I’ve read. Working your ass off for four years to receive a certificate that carries the same worth as roughly six months of work experience at McDonald’s is pretty defeating.

But we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, don’t we? We lower our shoulders and keep going–at least that’s what dad tells me.

I walk into the kitchen. It’s roughly 6:30pm. My father is doing the dishes.

“Hey dad.”

“Hey, son,” my dad responds, sliding back the bottom rack of the dishwasher and setting them to wash. “What can I do for ya?”

“Dad, I’m having problems.”

My dad grimaces a little bit and begins to call for my mother.

“Dad, come on.”

He sighs a bit and turns to me. “All right. What’s the problem?”

“I think I’m in a rut,” I say. “I just feel kind of lost.” In spite of my melancholy, I have to almost physically force myself to not make a LOST joke here.

“Lost? In what way?” He asks.

In a mysterious island kind of way, I think to myself. “I mean, What am I doing? I just feel like I’m counting down the days until–”

“–Until you die?” My dad interjects.

“What?! No!”

“That’s what I do.”

“Really?!”

My dad shrugs.

“Well, have you ever felt like this? Like you don’t have any direction?” I ask.

“Son, when I was a young man, I owned a 1978 Camaro. Beautiful car. Electric blue with a big white racing stripe going up the hood. Well, one day, I was driving home from work in it, and as I pulled up to the intersection of Brown and 43rd, I looked to the car on my left, and in an old Lincoln, I saw your mother.

“She was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. So, I revved my engine, tore off the line, and smoked her ass.”

“Wait, what?”

“Lincoln never had a chance.”

I stare at my dad for a few seconds. A clock can be heard ticking in the background. My dad just smiles wistfully and gazes into the distance, glassy-eyed.

“What does that have to do with a lack of direction?” I ask. My question seems to startle my dad a bit.

“Direction? Oh, oh yes. Well, when I was telling a friend about it later, describing your mom and the car she drove, he told me he knew who this ‘mystery girl’ was. I told him I thought she was pretty good lookin’ and he agreed to set us up.”

“So your friend gave you direction?”

“No, no. See, how could I have ever predicted that not only would I run into that beautiful woman at that intersection, but that my friend would know her, and that this random incident would lead me to my wife and kids? I had no idea. So when you start to feel stressed because you don’t know what’s going to happen five years from now, relax–because you’ll never really know. All you can do is make estimates. Just keep doing. You’ll be all right.”

I reach for a high five, but my dad just looks at my hand and walks away. “Unload the dishwasher,” he says.

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3 Responses to “Advice from My Father”

  1. Jules March 7, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    where is the dang “like” button.

  2. greenchikin March 8, 2010 at 8:12 am #

    Thumbs up!

  3. "lauren" March 9, 2010 at 10:23 pm #

    ….So what happend!??! Did you unload the dishwasher or not?!

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