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A Stranger for my Strange Dad

For as long as I can remember, my father has talked to strangers. Not in a “hi, nice to meet you” sort of way. More in a “I’m going to barge into your meal and start talking about refinishing antiques and Braves baseball in the 1970′s, and I’m going to tell weird jokes no sane person would ever understand, and I’m going to be completely oblivious to the fact that you want to spray me with Raid to make me go away and leave you alone.”

In fact, when people squirm and try to humor him, Dad senses their discomfort. It fuels him like nuclear energy. The more strangers act like they don’t want to talk to him, the more determined my father becomes to lurk around their table.

We cooked dinner last night for him and Mom as a combined Mom’s birthday/Father’s Day gift, and Dad was disappointed. He wanted to go out to eat, because he didn’t want to spend a meal talking to us, his family. No. He wanted to find a nice, packed restaurant and proceed to make the rounds to every table in the place and tell them all about the dead body he picked up from Marion, South Carolina yesterday afternoon.

And, he doesn’t even try to make the rounds sometimes. He will just shout at a random diner who makes the egregious error of eye contact with my Dad. “Hey! You should’ve seen the dead body I picked up yesterday! Hey! Dead! Body! DEAD!”

I have been cursed with this behavior for the length of my memory. When I was a tiny girl, my Dad took me to his hangout, sat me up on a twirling stool at the counter, drank coffee and talked to every soul in the place but me. I once picked a fight with him over the height of my ice cream cone versus his just to get him to look my way. I was THREE YEARS OLD. It was all I had.

Now, I am probably worse than three. Yesterday, any time someone walked by our table, I shouted, “DO NOT TALK TO HER, DAD!!!!!!” at the top of my voice (because he can’t hear anything). “DAD, PLEASE DON’T TELL OUR WAITRESS JOKES ABOUT NUTS!!!!!” “THE LADY DOESN’T WANT TO KNOW ALL THE REASONS WHY YOU NEED CAFFEINE-FREE, DAD!!!!!!” “NO, THEY HAVE NOTHING IN GUCCI THAT WILL FIT YOU, AND DO NOT GO IN THERE AND TALK TO THE SKINNY, PRETTY SALES CLERK ABOUT HOW YOU JUST PAID $10 FOR A SHOE SHINE!!!!!!”

Yes, I am hoarse after spending any amount of time with my father. I guess it blends well with the horror that I will be just like him someday. Telling stories to strangers…………………….

…………………………

…………………………

Um. Can anyone please help me STOP acting like my Dad?

Too Much is Just Enough: Strangers for my Dad

 

 

29 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lou Mello #

    We like to hear your stories and you are, of course, destined to be just like your Dad. We will call it somewhat eccentric to your face and tell people that your really are a vewwwwy, vewwwwy, cwazzzzy person behind your back.

    After all, what are friends for?

    June 18, 2011
  2. Like father, like daughter. You are doomed in a good way.

    June 18, 2011
  3. Well, at least if he’s that hard of hearing he won’t hear it when his chosen vic, uhmm, I mean conversationalists, tell him profane things.

    What did you cook for the dinner?

    June 18, 2011
    • MTM made shrimp and grits. It is my Mom’s favorite thing that he makes.

      June 18, 2011
  4. Hey, you’re not my long-lost sister-in-law are you? Sounds just like my father-in-law, who still gives out business cards (with a….’joke’? …on the back) even though he retired 20 years ago, and uses terrible openers like ‘hey, how come you’ve got the same name as my third cousin?’ He’s nearly 90 now and getting worse.

    June 18, 2011
    • I just may be, Keith. At any rate, the two of them sound like they are long- lost relatives. πŸ™‚

      June 18, 2011
  5. That was so kind of you to cook dinner for your parents. I know that you had to step outside your comfort zone to do that especially with all that you shared. That was a true labor of love and you will be blessed for doing it. It is good that you and your parents are still close enough that you can do these sorts of things. I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to be close to my adoptive parents. I am doing my best to be there for my children today and to love them no matter what decisions they might make. I want them to want to have a relationship with me today and in the future.

    June 18, 2011
    • Ok, I seem to have misrepresented facts. MTM cooked dinner, and I did my usual prep and clean up. We are a good team in the kitchen.

      June 18, 2011
  6. I hate to tell you this Andra but writing your blog everyday……well that is exactly what your dad does….Thing about all the strangers you tell all your random thoughts too……hahahaha….I guess the difference is however we come back each day for more

    We are destined to relive our parents lives, even if in small and maybe more manageable parts, no matter how much we try to be different.

    I noticed that I do and say things I swore I would never do……I guess it is just inevitable.

    June 18, 2011
  7. Tomi Jean Cleveland #

    Oh Andra, I love your Dad! Yes, I have been singled out in Atlanta Bread Company by your sweet Father! I must say, I heard no nut jokes or any stories about dead bodies, thank goodness, BUT he did absolutely rave about YOU! That was all he could talk about. He adores you and is so proud of you! I do love to see him out……the man will make you smile!
    Hope you and MTM are doing well! Would love to get together sometime soon! XO, Tomi Jean

    June 18, 2011
    • He talks about me behind my back all the time. I am glad he makes you laugh. He does that for so many.

      June 18, 2011
  8. Love this post, Andra. My Dad used to do the same thing. Anybody, anywhere, stories, trivia… wait staff were a particularly good target, along with cab drivers. If he was still alive today, I am sure I would be shouting too. So on Fathers Day tomorrow, in the midst of my little sad bout, I would say, enjoy the yelling and embarrassment for as long as you can.

    πŸ™‚

    June 18, 2011
    • You know, I try to get Dad to carry on like this and surreptitiously film him, but he never cooperates with that. As soon as he senses the camera, he clams right up. I think we have successfully captured one video.

      And, as much as I complain, I enjoy my Dad. He is a riot.

      June 18, 2011
    • I hope you and the girls are loving England.

      June 18, 2011
      • I hope she is suffering over the as she deservers. For leaving us and our heat.

        Though I do wish I had met Amanda’s dad. What would not be to love about a story telling British car person?

        June 19, 2011
      • You and he would’ve been two peas in a pod. I’m sure.

        June 19, 2011
  9. What a great post! Laughed out loud the whole time. Much needed after the post I wrote about my Dad today. Your Dad sounds like quite the colorful character, Andra! Happy Father’s Day to you. And him.

    June 18, 2011
  10. πŸ˜› I feel your pain! My dad isn’t quite so talkative; he usually doesn’t pester other diners. But he is a “talk to strangers” kind of guy. He has an opinion on most everything. He loves to share his opinions and to explain his theories of . . . well, everything.

    Besides family and friends of family, any and all retail staff, especially, are fair game. And when he isn’t making small talk about how he orders chicken noodle soup instead of fries (because he doesn’t need the extra carbs), he can be one of the cranky types. If anything about his retail experience annoys him (including his own failure to comprehend how something works), he’ll complain about it, with growing ire, usually to some hapless, minimum wage, front line kid. He never abuses them; he never holds them personally accountable, but he certainly vents their way.

    I’ve lost track of the number of polite, grimly flummoxed retail workers I’ve watched silently endure my dad’s heated opinions on what’s wrong with what and how things ought to be done.

    Yeah.

    I’ll stick to blogging! (and pedantic comments on other people’s blogs!)

    June 18, 2011
    • I loved your stories of traveling with your Dad, though. Probably because I could SO SO relate to them.

      June 18, 2011
  11. Have you ever read your blog? You already are like your dad! You constantly tell stories to strangers. At 6am everyday.

    I gotta say think you to you dad though. Without him and your mom getting jiggy-with-it, we would not have had you. Thanks dad!

    June 19, 2011
    • I now have to write a blog post with the image of my parents getting jiggy with it in my head. EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!! Curse you, Carnell. Curse you.

      June 19, 2011

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