Sunday, July 28, 2013

Awkward Grandpa vs. Birthdays

"She got her looks from her father. He's a plastic surgeon."

Groucho is right, you know. I did get my looks from my father, but no, he is not a plastic surgeon. I still think he would like that joke. Here is my father:

Groovy shirt.

Here is me:

With the requisite cat, of course. 

And here is Super Toddler:

No plastic surgery required. Just all good old awkward genes. 

Today is my father's birthday. It is also his identical twin's birthday. Imagine that:

Can't beat cowboy cake.

I don't talk a lot about Awkward Grandpa on here. He just isn't as awkward as the rest of us. Oh, he gets mustard on his shirt with some regularity and he has an obsession with strange old books. His outfits are clashingly bad, but he can't really help it; he is color blind. He never says goodbye when he is on the phone; he just hangs up, which can leave you talking to a dial tone if you aren't careful. His penny-pinching ways are famous in the family (we all ordered off the children's menu until well into adolescence), and he was famous for not ordering himself anything when we went out to eat. Then, you better eat quickly because the "are you gonna finish that" comments would start about 2 minutes in. But mostly, Awkward Grandpa is rather ill-named. He is solid, smart, seemingly serious, startlingly sarcastic, scholarly, significantly sloppy, and secretly sweet, but that is too long and I am too lazy to type that out every time.

Awkward Grandpa is forever bailing us out of trouble. The rest of us are awkward with quick tempers, so you can imagine how well that goes. I have never seen my father yell. Ever. This is not to say that he isn't scary on occasion. My favorite memory of his secret intimidation goes like this:

I was in Omaha, rooming with a girl during college. Well, she took off with some guy, leaving me with our apartment and the entire rent. I was trying to get out of paying her share because I was 20 and had like $12 total. The landlord wouldn't budge. He wanted his money and didn't care where it came from. I called my father, who calmed me down and asked me for the landlord's number. I gave it to him and he hung up, only to call me like 10 minutes later, saying it was all taken care of. I just stared at the phone for awhile. Finally, I asked him what he did. This is what he said, "Oh, I just explained to him the situation, that you didn't have the money. That half was better than nothing. That I happen to know the attorney general of Nebraska. That the other girl is really responsible under the lease. You know." Don't ever get on the wrong side of Awkward Grandpa, you won't know what hit you until it has hit you. Hard.

 My father can play any instrument that exists and he can sing. He tells stories as well as his own father, and he was Irish, so you know his storytelling ability was legendary. Seriously, name a city in the Continental United States, and my father will have a story about an adventure he had there once. He hates Halloween, but he still lets my mother turn their house into a veritable haunted house every year. He has more interests than he has books, and he has an entire library of those. His speech at my wedding involved the historical relevance the traditions involved and I am pretty sure he even got ancient Macedonia in there somewhere. Then, he turned around and played Moon River for my first dance:

I bawled my eyes out. 

Awkward Grandpa loves all his grandchildren, but he has a special bond with Super Toddler. Super Toddler, in turn, adores Awkward Grandpa. His new favorite game is to tell me that Awkward Grandpa has come over (an impressive feat given that Awkward Grandpa is in Illinois and not apt to stroll to Ann Arbor for lunch). Super Toddler fixes this slight wrinkle by saying that Grandpa is invisible and here to play just with him. They have grand adventures together throughout the house. They also have grand adventures when Awkward Grandpa is visible:

 Peeking at his mini-me. 
And yes, I know, they have matching hair-dos.

So, that is my dilemma: Awkward Grandpa isn't really awkward. What to do? Oh well, maybe he is awkward in that he carries a recessive awkward gene. I mean, he must, right? He is my father, after all. Awkward Grandpa it is then! 

Only thing awkward here is that beard...
Happy Birthday, Dad! 


  1. Beautiful tribute!!

    Ann Dunn-Foley

    1. Thanks! Not that he will read it.... :)

  2. That is a very sweet tribute to your dad! (I share your dad's birthday by the way! :) So happy birthday to "Awkward Grandpa" from a fellow July 28th birthday person! :)

  3. I liked the beard. It came in red.

    1. Yeah, come to think of it, that beard was pretty unAwkward. :)