10 Things My Father Was Right About
Maybe your dad taught you how to get a laugh or let a boy down easy. Chances are, he’s still doling out wisdom. The author pays tribute to her father’s best advice, past and present.
4. You can never have enough baggies. Anything can be stored in a resealable plastic bag, according to my father. Shoelaces, maps, socks, meat. I used to mock his habit of bagging everything, but since then I’ve seen the light. They’re miracle workers—easy to stash, and you can spot their contents at a glance. Now, just like Dad, I have a special drawer just for these bags, which range from giant (for sweaters) to tiny (to squirrel away nuts in my purse). When I’m missing a size in my lineup, I get tense.
5. You can’t go wrong with Clint. Dad says if you are at Blockbuster and are unable to decide what to rent, get a Clint Eastwood movie. Even the bad ones, he contends, are superior to most other films. Even Every Which Way but Loose. Even The Gauntlet (look it up). Now, when I’m overwhelmed by racks of DVDs, I simply look for Clint’s scowling face.
6. Don’t belittle the annual sack race. When my sisters and I hit adolescence, my father doggedly upheld our many family traditions, despite a tsunami of scorn. “They don’t mean anything to you kids now,” he’d tell us, “but one day you’ll invest in them yourselves.” Have we ever. Every Fourth of July, we have a sack race, and I just introduced a new tradition last Christmas. After dinner, I passed out lottery tickets and coins. Soon, all you could hear was an industrious scritch-scratch. And my father was beaming.
7. For Pete’s sake, stop worrying. Dad, like many guys of his generation, is a doer, not a talker. Just “fix it,” he tells himself, no matter how intractable the problem seems. His swift and decisive action used to strike me, a champion ditherer, as impulsive, but I’ve come to realize that consulting your gut leads to better decisions than exhaustive (and exhausting) deliberation. Now when I’m stymied, I say this phrase, and the answer comes.