Originally published in Chill Magazine. See the flipbook here, kids.
by RYAN BOLTON
When my Dad laughs, you laugh. Every. Damn. Time. As soon as his head goes back, his eyes close in bliss, and his whole body shakes. Pure schoolboy chuckling. And as soon as it happens, you’re screwed. You’re going to crack at least a smile. And if my Dad happens to be poking fun at me, especially in front of my close friends—watch out. I can’t even hold back the laughter and I’m the subject matter for chrissakes. It’s funny because he’s just speaking the truth. He’s just being, well, Dad.
My Dad is one of the honest ones. Like the good Dads out there. An honest man. A friendly man. A Dad.
Like my old man, today’s father figure is taking a backseat. He’s not out to steal the spotlight and bathe in the glory of being a great Dad. He’s just there to ensure you’re happy. He’s just there to tell you give you the truth, like it or not. He’s just there to defend his family, no matter the consequence. He’s just there to give you advice. He’s just there to slap you upside the head because you didn’t heed his advice and you went ahead and rode your BMX bike off your family’s stone ledge in the driveway, breaking your arm. All of this after he told you not to that morning at breakfast. (Sorry, Dad, but you need to let that one go).
Dad is Dad.
But what does Dad get out of all of this? He’s not interested in the spotlight here. I’ll paraphrase comedian Chris Rock on this one: Think about everything that your Dad does: he pays the bills, buys the food, and puts a fucking roof over your head. He makes your world a better, safer place. Everything you could ever ask for. And what does Dad get for all his work? “The big piece of chicken. That’s all he gets.”
One of my favourite pastimes has been getting my Dad to tell me stories of when he was a young cat, breaking the rules. Like when—in small town Ontario—he and his buddies thought it “fun” to speed by police in their souped up Ford Fairlanes and then proceed to outrun said cops. As long as they made it to their homes before the cops could pull them over, they went unscathed. True story. Trust me, your Dad has been there before. Especially when it comes to determining quality beer and, well, piss. Dads know these things. It’s part of the job description.
He clothes you. Feeds you. Inspires you. Loves you. He puts up with your shit. He’s got your back.
My Dad sold cars for General Motors for 25 years. For 25 years he got complete strangers to trust him enough to buy a GMC pick-up or family van from him. (I’m pretty sure he hooked them all with that belly-rumbling laugh of his, but nevertheless, they trusted him). Not to forget the dedication to stay with it for 25 years. The same dedication that has kept him married to my mother for the past 30 years (happy anniversary, by the way, Mom and Dad!). And the same dedication that has put up with my shit for the past 27 years, God bless him. The good Dads stand by their beliefs. They stand by their families. They are dedicated and honest like a good man should be. Besides, study after study shows that caring and dedicated Dads have kids that do well in school, have a healthy dose of self-esteem and exhibit “pro-social behaviour.” Statistics Canada drew the conclusion in 2006 that “the fathers of today are more involved with their children than their own fathers were with them.” And better yet, more fathers are employed than ever before, floating around the 94% mark.
But hell, Dads make mistakes. They try their best—but they’re mortal—and shit happens. They fuck up. But the good Dads—they right their wrongs, swallow their pride and make things right to the best of their ability. Because the good Dads try their damnedest. They don’t believe in holding up a white flag in surrender. That’s never an option.
Now, out of all of this, Dad is humble. Sure, he’ll rub it in when he gets more handknit wool socks than you do at Christmas, but it’s just good fun. For him, as long as his family is content and provided for, then he’s content. His job is done for the day.
So here’s to your old man.
Your old man that drives you to morning hockey practice at 7 a.m. He clothes you. Feeds you. Inspires you. Loves you. He puts up with your shit. He’s got your back. And he asks for nothing in return. So take a moment sometime (maybe Father’s Day) and tell him how you really feel.
Or, better yet, keep your paws off that big piece of chicken. He deserves it.