Since today is April Fool’s Day, here’s a little tale from the vault of dad stories. You remember my dad, right? He’s the one who gave me free butt soap as a gift one time!
This is my dad.
Note* He is not a real pirate.
Well, several years ago, NOT on April Fool’s Day, my dad went to the bank and needed a check made for something. I don’t remember the exact details, but the bank was going to charge him money to get this check from his own account. Being the hardworking, farm-raised, former Navy man he was, my dad was not about to pay extra for this check from his bank account.
After going back and forth with the bank teller, my dad grew so angry he decided to CLOSE his account and take his banking business elsewhere.
Dad: “Close my accounts!”
Bank Teller: “All of them?”
Dad: “ALL OF THEM!”
Meanwhile, a week or so later, I went to the same bank at a branch in my town and asked to do a fund transfer from my savings to my checking account.
The bank teller stared at the screen. She tells me she needs a manager to look something over.
You know where this is going, don’t you?
So, the manager comes over and looks at the computer screen.
Manager: “It appears your account has been closed.”
This is the part of the story where the manager escorts me to a tiny desk in a corner, AWAY FROM THE PUBLIC so when they tell me my account has been hacked or something, I DON’T SCARE AWAY ALL THE PEOPLE.
I worked in retail for six years; I know EXACTLY what that tiny desk in the corner is for.
So now, I’ve been passed onto Man With a Mustache to sleuth out what happened to my entire savings account.
Mustache Man: “It appears your account has been closed.”
Me: “CLOSED? Who closed it? I didn’t close it. All my money was in there! Where is MY MONEY?”
Mustache Man: *scrolling through my account information* “Do you know a…Jerry Witkins?”
Me: *speaking between clenched teeth* “I need to call my father.”
I ring up dear old dad who greets me like he’s Mrs. Doubtfire.
Me: “Did you recently come into a large sum of money, Pops?”
Dad, in all sincerity: “Say, now that you mention it, I did actually find some extra cash.”
Me: “BECAUSE YOU STOLE IT FROM MY ACCOUNT!!!”
Dad explains to me about his trip to the same bank in his town and how he demanded to close his accounts. What he didn’t realize, and the bank teller didn’t explain to him, is that as co-signer for my savings account which my parents started for me as a child, he closed out MY account along with his.
And here’s the kicker, while he had no recollection of the sum of money in this “extra mystery account,” he figured it was one he’d started a long time ago and told the teller, “Yep, close it!”
Me: “You put that money back!”
Dad: “I’ll think about it.”
Me: “You march back into that back, tell the teller what you did, and put my money back!”
Dad did return my savings, and we had a good little laugh about it…much later. But because the bank had closed my account, I had to get a new account and new number. I wasn’t too upset though. This time, there would be NO co-signer.
Happy April Fool’s Day, everybody!
Tell me your best prank story, planned or otherwise!
My father, Jerry, is a good man. A hardworking, well-intended and thoughtful man. Any time I go home, he never fails to send me off with some homemade food, a spare cake or two (he’s a baker), or a surplus of some great deal he found – anything from mini cans of juice to say…soap.
One such visit home my dad sent me away with two bottles of soap and two bottles of lotion. They looked like your basic sanitation brand, some great deal he’d found that did nothing for my mother’s decor but got the job done. I grudgingly accepted the bottles and once back at my place offered up the lotion to my boyfriend and my roommate. If they would use it, good for them. I was going to stick with the far better smelling and more visually appealing lotions that I bought, the ones with flowers on the bottle that smelled like coconut or almond oil.
A few months went past and I decided “What the heck! Put the soap in the main bathroom and use it up.”
Later that night I could hear my roommate and his girlfriend laughing in the bathroom. It got so loud I opened my door to see what the fuss was about.
Of course! It was the soap.
Had I, or better yet my father, bothered to read the bottle, I might have known why my roommate and his lady had a serious case of the giggles.
To start with, in its bold yellow lettering it reads: MULTI PURPOSE PERINEAL CLEANING* BODY WASH AND SHAMPOO.
Good gravy! Where do I begin?!
My dad gave me free butt soap!!!
The definition of perineal is the skin in front of one’s anus. You may know it by its street name, the taint. Please imagine now the sheer look of momentary horror on my face. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
If that wasn’t enough of an introduction, the back of the bottle gave more explicit instruction.
If you’re not already a fan of this FABULOUS multipurpose cleaner, just read: it’s “designed to dissolve fecal soils resulting from incontinence.”
Well yippy skippy! No need to rush when the urge strikes any longer! One pump of this magic and you’re fecal free fresh!
Can I get a “just clean ahhhhh!”
But if simply clean is simply not enough, there’s a lotion for that too!
Between the his and her snickering I was subjected to from the roommate and his girlfriend, I pulled a “Jerry”, shrugged, and said “It’s free.” I also reminded them it was the same brand as the lotion I gave them earlier, which prompted sock-footed running to their room to gather the other bottle.
PROTECTS AND HELPS RELIEVE CHAPPED OR CRACKED SKIN AND LIPS. ALSO HELPS TREAT AND PREVENT DIAPER RASH!!!
Where exactly should one rub this lotion? I’m not sure I feel comfortable using the same lotion a person puts on their kid’s toucas also on my face! Though when questioned later, my dad said it’s good at preventing wrinkles.
Gee Dad, your gift was really something! I wonder what you’ll share with us next time! But be warned – this soap could end up in your “Welcome to the Nursing Home” basket!
Have you ever received a gift that was well intended, but so wrong? Did you tell the gift giver? Have you ever BEEN the shamed gift giver? How did you recover?
My dad gets along with everyone. He’s a gabby, gracious, and attentive hugger of a guy. However, my dad has one known mortal enemy. Squirrels.
Growing up, the household would move about peacefully to a soundtrack of 50’s and 60’s music. Mom was singing in the kitchen, my siblings were riding bikes around the neighborhood. I was playing orphan or typing adventure stories on my mom’s old typewriter when suddenly – BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! My father would be pounding on the dining room window to scare away whatever squirrel had scurried its way up to our birdfeeder. Sometimes he would camp out on a chair crouched behind a potted fig tree and some African violets and wait for the squirrels to skip across the tree branches. He’d wait until they were on the tip of the branches closest to the feeder, biting his nails in anticipation, and as soon as they’d leap for the feeder – BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! The squirrel would go somersaulting in the air, and scamper away frightened out of its wits.
Much to my mother’s dismay, my dad started setting live traps in the yard luring the pesky squirrels in with promises of walnuts and peanut butter bread he himself had taken bites out of. The problem with the live traps was that squirrels weren’t the only ones who liked walnuts and half eaten peanut butter bread. Birds and rabbits did too. My mother, haunted by a mean rooster on her family’s childhood farm, refused to deal with the live traps when one of the less fortunate animals was inside. That job was left for me. I’d get home from school and mom would plead with me to please go outside and free the starling stuck in dad’s trap. As I walked around the house toward the cage, the bird would start panicking. Now, I wanted to free the animal, but it involved moving a latch that was right next to the cage portion, and for those of you familiar with starlings, they’re rather predatory and aggressive birds. The bird’s wings would start flapping uncontrollably and its beak would come jutting out at my hand. Eventually, I’d get the metal flap of the opening to slide up and the bird would come shooting out like a rocket.
On days when the trap served its purpose and Dad caught an actual squirrel, he’d pick up the cage and load it into the back of the station wagon. He’d drive out to the woods in the farmland area known as Hebron, occasionally starting wars with my grandfather and uncle, releasing the squirrels on their property to spite them and go after their feeders.
Convinced the squirrels were finding their way back to our house somehow, Dad took the squirrel wars to a new level. He and my brother took to staking out in our shed with BB guns and firing at any squirrel who dared steal birdseed from his feeder. My brother would come in the house and regale the family with the impressive tale of how he shot a squirrel in the butt! For those of you picturing a backwoods house in the country, let me set the scene straight for you. Our house was on the corner of the busiest street in town, and generally we were a respected family with a large garden who kept the grass mowed.
I’m afraid my father’s influence took a heightened level in my brother’s actions when we discovered one day that a muskrat was burrowing under the family pool. My dad was worried the varmint would chew through the lining of the pool, and Lake Witkins, as grand as it sounded, didn’t belong in our backyard. Convinced he would save the day, my brother and a friend staked out from the deck one afternoon and completed the mission: the muskrat was killed. But this was in late fall, and neither boy had sharp, gnarly muskrat teeth to burrow with, and the ground was too frozen to bury the animal, so he put the ugly creature in a big white bucket, pooling blood and all, set it in the garage and left.
My mother was informed the muskrat was now resting in peace, and had told my dad to get rid of the thing and thought he had. She then entered the garage and noticed a big white bucket. The next thing my mother will tell you about is that she sprained her ankle and tore a few ligaments after twisting to get away in a horrified moment of panic. My poor mother crawled her way up the steps to our house and through the kitchen to get to a phone where she could finally call for help. I don’t believe my brother was allowed to help dad with the animal wars ever again.
Recently, on a trip home to see my family, my sister brought over a book from the library she was reading to her two year old daughter. The book was titled, Those Darn Squirrels and I was tickled to present a dramatic reading of the tale to my father. Then, we went page by page and counted the similarities between Old Man Fookwire and my father. We also taught my niece to shake her fist at grandpa and say “Those Darn Squirrels!” Dad may not have bought lasers and trapeze equipment like Old Man Fookwire, but spring is coming, and if you give a squirrel a walnut, he’ll probably invite his friends.
Writers beware. If you’re going to start changing your diet to see how it impacts your life, don’t begin that process the weekend of your niece’s 2nd birthday.
The Weekend Begins
I was supposed to start out early on my three hour drive home, but instead, I slept in, and was lured to stay when my boyfriend offered to cook breakfast. Inventory: egg and cheese sandwhich on toast, hashbrowns, milk, and blueberry flavored coffee. Ok, pack up the car in -11 degree temperature, clear snow off of windshield, check. I was doing really well so far. I only stopped once on the drive to use the restroom, and I wasn’t planning to buy a thing. But the lonely man behind the counter stared me down in his bowling shirt and disheveled facial hair. Inventory: gatorade and cheez its – -damn! Saturday night I successfully finished writing a 10 stanza long rhyming birthday poem of all things Sonja to be read for her party.
The Party Day
The family oohed and aahed before we began to eat. Inventory: Brown sugar french toast, apple cinnamon squash, eggs, bacon, cheesy potatoes, mixed fruit, and broccoli and cauliflower salad. Oh, Lord, so many tasties! I made sure to take extra broccoli, and ok, I also took extra potatoes, but I wasn’t planning to write directly afterwards. I was planning to watch my two year old niece unwrap presents in a quick half hour and then cheer on the Packers during the game. Oh the game!!! Inventory: tortilla chips with chili cheese dip and black bean and corn salsa. No judgement, I needed to replenish myself, the Packers needed all of our cheering help, and salsa as you know helps the vocal chords immensely. On a side note, since some of you have gotten to hear about my father, I’ll have you know he did a rather spastic touchdown victory dance that was something of a combination between churning butter and the hokey pokey.
Upon returning home to my parents’ we skipped dinner altogether as we were so stuffed. But after watching a movie, the urge to nibble striked once more. I opened the fridge. Oh glorious dips! My mother had stocked up at the grocery store and we had french onion, dill, and taco dip sitting in the fridge. NO! I will behave at least once today. I grabbed a bag of carrots. I ate about 15. And then I ate about 30 chips with taco dip. At least they went down together. Have you heard that Mitch Hedburg joke? He talks about eating a carrot and a chip, and the carrot says, “It’s ok, he’s with me.”
I will do better tomorrow. Did someone just say pizza???
Resolution Friday: So another week of changing the ordinary has come and gone. I’ve read for pleasure every day, which was by far the easiest of my resolutions. I also read more Susan Shapiro Only as Good as Your Word and am still laughing out loud. Lastly, I wrote another wacky family memoir. You can read it here.
So, it’s a new week, and I’ve been given much to think about. Thanks to Kristen Lamb’s blog and a few others I’ll be adding as a mash up, I’ve been challenging myself to think about how I blog and how I write. It’s natural to go with what you know, and most of what I’ve known has been write-your-ass-off-and-pray. Ooooooooooooom. But Kristen says I can’t do it that way, and I believe her. So, that means hunker down and get ready for a bumpy (best new year) of your life.
So if you’re like me, beginning to write again after a hiatus in sales, may I recommend Preparation. Preparation is that thing you do before you actually have to do it. It’s meant to help you, seriously. It’s where you can lay all of your pretty little ideas out like paper dolls and mix and match their clothes to see what works and what doesn’t. Hey, lay off my metaphors, I told you I’m in sales, and yah it’s retail! But, Preparation offers you several options, ones you can see in advance, and it gives you time to craft the end result. For example, do I want to wear the sequin top with the plaid wool skirt and capri leggings? Repeat after me, NO! But that sequin top looks great next to those dark wash denim jeans and metallic flats. What’s that? You’re adding hoop earrings in a brushed bronze metal? I LOVE IT!!! Metaphor aside, take time to write down ideas for both blogging and writing. Plan ahead for both when you will write and what you will write. Otherwise, you’ll start blogging some remake version of “The Night Before Christmas,” oh wait, I already did that.
If you’re having trouble figuring out how to start a story, try making a list of things you like, or character traits about a friend or family member. Does anything on that list remind you of a good story you would tell someone in conversation? Now how would you tell it if you were writing it for someone? Take all the ideas that come to you and write them down. What pieces seem to fit together in a fresh and exciting way?
If you’re still struggling with idea starters, here is a list of ideas I came up with for future memoirs, or even an essay collection, if you titled it, Things My Dad Has Done to Freak Me Out.
- Incessantly sneak up on me from behind and scream “What are ya doin’?!”
- Innocently spell my name wrong on my birthday cake, for the last 20 years
- Pushed me into a man dressed like a Troll, and cried “Take her!”
- Left me in a haunted house by myself
- Left me in a corn maze by myself
- Left me buried in the snow by myself
- Forced me to learn to ride a bike without training wheels
- Forced me to learn to swim without swimming lessons
- Hid a creepy plastic nativity scene donkey in my bedroom
- Got me to eat gravy that had giblets in it
What are you waiting for? Get writing!
Audio Tracked Peacock Noises
Or How My Dad and I Did the Zoo
My boyfriend tells me that I walk too fast. I blame years of quickstepping after my father around town. I had to take four steps to his one just to keep up. I practically ran, panting to keep up, talking the whole time about what happened at school and at home that day.
If you dig straight down to my core, I am most like my father. I share his vulgar sense of humor, to an extent, his enjoyment of going anywhere, even around the corner, his open book heart which will always try to save the world, his irritatingly reliable hardwork ethic, his constant frigid body temperature, and his thumbs.
My father wasn’t around a whole lot when I was growing up. To pay the bills and put food on the table, he worked 18 hour days, 7 days a week, managing and cooking in our family restaurant. But on occasion, he would take me on trips to the zoo.
The drive to the nearest zoo was almost an hour. Nicknamed “Chatterbox,” I had endless stories to regale my father with during our excursion. There were discussions about my friends at school, a new song I learned, and would piercingly sing aloud, and the clever way I got my older brother, Justin, to stop chasing me by spraying mom’s perfume on his hands. Oh, wasn’t I just the bees knees, dad?
The drive was always the same. A sunny day. Me doing all the talking. We’d pull into the parking lot, hop out of the car, and I’d skip over the grass mounds up to the entryway only to find the gates padlocked shut. We took this exact trip together of locked up zoo gates at least three times! Instead of sullenly turning the car around and driving home, my dad replied, “Well, we’re here.”
Dismayed and full of anguish, I was promised wild animals! Instead, I was dragged around the zoo’s perimeter, while my father cried out, “Listen to the peacocks! Do you hear the peacocks?” We would never actually confirm there were any peacocks as we never actually saw peacocks!
Everything was boarded up, fenced in, locked down, and surrounded by Wisconsin foliage. Basically, you couldn’t see a damn thing! Yet again, my father would call out, “Jess, come here! Look through this crack, you can see bears!”
And sure enough, my dad would have me tiptoeing on some unstable rock of a curb, pressing my eye into a rusty old fence hole, blinking past maple leaves that were bouncing in my way to see far off in the distance some brown hairy mammal that was pacing the rock wall of its habitat.
“I see one!” I’d cry out delighted.
“Yah, he’s looking for his dinner. I hope he doesn’t come looking for a tasty, little girl! Oh, Mr. Bear, I’ve got her! Raaaaaaawr! Raaawr!” My dad would scoop me up and pretend to lift me over the fence, growling like a bear and pretending to take big bites out of my arms and legs.
All in all, it wasn’t the worst trip you could take to the zoo, if the zoo was really, really small with only one bear and audio tracked peacock noises. Thanks for the quality time, Pops!