A while back, my dad gave me a compliment on one of my newspaper columns. He looked me square in the eye and asked with a bewildered look on his face, “How can you write so much and never really say anything?” Well, I took it as a compliment anyway.
When most of you will be reading this, my dad will be celebrating his 80th birthday. During those eight decades of down-home farm living, he has become a fountain of knowledge for my siblings and myself. There are a few basic rules and words of advice that Dad has handed down throughout the years. Some vocally, others by example. Most I have taken to heart; the others we won’t talk about at this particular time. (There might be statute of limitation laws in affect.)
Here are a few that have helped me get through life, and maybe they can help you too.
First of all, Mom is always right. Even when she isn’t. This basic, fundamental law of nature actually applies to just about each and every female I am related to. (Except for my sister. She’s just a dumb girl.) From my grandmother, to my mom and my aunts, my wife and my daughter, they have always been right, and me — not so much. Dad always implied the quicker I got that through my head, the smoother the road of life will become. Boy was he right.
Secondly, keep the needle on the gas gauge above “E.” He always told me that it costs the same to put a few gallons in a few times a week as it does to put a whole bunch of gallons in at one time. I wish that I could get my wife to follow that rule. However, since she’s a female that I’m related to, that’s not my sister, I’m not gonna say a word.
Thirdly, don’t ever give up on the Chicago Cubs. He has been a lifelong fan, and because of that, I too have been cursed. We believe the laws of statistics and probability indicate the Chicago Cubs will eventually win a World Series. Today he is 80 years old. In those approximate 29,200 days, they have not won a World Series. For 25 years, or approximately another 9,125 days before he was even born, the Cubs didn’t win a World Series. My dad and I put a lot of faith into the laws of statistics and probability.
Fourthly, Dad always told me that you can plant more corn in crooked rows than you can in straight rows. Many will say that this is just an excuse to have your crops planted in an unsightly fashion, but mathematically, I’m pretty sure he’s right.
Fifthly, Dad would always tell me to be careful. Whenever I would go out to have a good time with my friends, who are just as idiotic as I am, he would always say, “Just be careful.” And then when he thought Mom wasn’t listening, he would wink and add, “But if you can’t be careful, at least have fun.” Those words have stuck with me throughout the years, many times in situations involving writing this silly column, illegal fireworks and/or lawn jarts.
Sixthly, if you’re outside working, and you have absolutely no other options at your disposal, always, and I mean always, pee downwind. When you gotta go, you gotta go.
Seventhly, and possibly the greatest tidbit of information that Dad passed down to me, that any father can pass along to his son is this: Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey. I repeat this mantra literally every time I pick up a screwdriver or wrench. Literally every time. Literally every … single … time.
So as my dad rolls the odometer over to 80, I now have some words of advice for him: Have a happy birthday ... and be careful.
But if you can’t do that, have a good time.
Unless, of course, Mom says something different.
You can contact Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on his blog at http://gregwallaceink.blogspot.com.