Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It pays to have a Dad with a sense of humour.

My dad gets me. At least, I think he does. It was his birthday on Saturday, and I am a bad son, who does last-minute shopping when it comes to birthdays, Christmas and so forth. I was working at Rona all day before meeting my father, so that was where I was going to get my shopping done. I asked the helpful staff at Rona Carleton Place for some suggestions as to what he might like. He lives in a small town in Saskatchewan, on a big property, and so I needed a gift that could possibly be used in a setting such as that one and also fit into his suitcase. After much assistance from Wendy and Lois, and much deliberation on my part, I chose a fence-measuring device with a telescoping handle and a small wheel, and a magnetic key-gathering device that also telescoped. It is the kind of thing that you can use if you drop something metallic into a crack, and must reach two metres into that crack to grab those keys or that butter knife or what have you.

Both gifts, I figured, were fairly useless, but they looked nice and made me happy, so I put them in a bag with the card I had purchased that same day at the Carleton Place Shoppers Drug Mart. I had chosen a "Congratulations on your 95th Birthday!" card. Inside I wrote "I couldn't manage the math to figure out your actual age, so I estimated". The real reason, and (I think) my Dad gets this, is that I hate cards. I hate the idea of greeting cards for all occasions, I hate the fact that people feel the need to get cards from a store, I dislike the cards that already exist...I am anti-greeting card. Frankly, how sympathetic could you be toward whatever my predicament might be, if you purchased a sympathy card featuring flowers and a poem inside from a Hallmark store? If you want to show sympathy, write me a note. Or bring me a steak. Either way...I keep the sympathy card section in business too, however. My anti-greeting card campaign actually keeps me buying greeting cards far more than I ordinarily would. I just make it a point to get inappropriate ones. For Dad's last birthday, I believe I got him a sympathy card, and wrote inside that I felt deep sympathy for anyone that old. For Doc's birthday last year, I used an old Christmas card I had lying around, and wrote that the reason I did so was that to me, he is Jesus.

The real reason I picked up the "95th birthday" card, however, was that I found it awesome that enough people reach their 95th birthdays that it has become profitable for Hallmark to create an entire line of cards centred around that specific age. I would have been even more excited had I found a "Happy 93rd" card, but I was not willing to put in the time to search for one. As I said, I am a bad son.

So anyway, my Dad laughed with (I think) good humour, and then we all made fun of my gifts together. The fence-measuring device will likely never be used on an actual fence, but it was at least used on Saturday to measure the tables at the Broadway in Barrhaven. (They are, for future reference, 0.0010 kilometres in circumference.) The magnetic reaching-stick was used as well, to pick up knives from the floor and pepper shakers from the table. (The salt shaker, remarkably, was not sticking to the magnet. Same shaker exactly as the pepper, same metal top - the pepper worked and the salt didn't. Must be some chemical thing I once knew but have since forgotten.) And a good time was had by all. After dinner, we all went back to my house to watch Atonement, as I had to do so before I went back to work. My Dad and my Mom and I watched that upstairs, while my girlfriend took my sister and her husband downstairs to drink beer and play on the Wii. When they left, Dad suggested that he had enjoyed himself, but he still had that look in his eye that he gets sometimes that I can never decipher. It's either a look that says "I get the joke, and I'm still laughing inside", or one that says "I know you meant to be funny, but you should really see a doctor about your mental problems". I think he gets me...

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