Actually, it IS Rocket Science



Dark and sinister man

“You see, Wendy, when the first baby laughed for the very first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces… and they all went skipping about. And that was the beginning of fairies.”

This, if you’re not familiar, is a hallmark phrase from the novel written by Scottish author J.M. Barrie titled “Peter Pan.”

It is also a phrase that my dad might normally take a mighty crap on without a second thought.  If I had to estimate, that mighty crap would perhaps go something like this:

“If you’re going to talk about a prospect such as ‘fairies,’ what you should first consider is the probability of something as rhetorical as a fabrication of such a mythological creation.

And if you still do, in fact, believe in the illogical prospect of fairies, what you should really take into consideration is your ability to separate reality from fictitious prose.”

_________

My dad is a terminal scientist, and subsequent eternal skeptic.  He has a razor-sharp bullshit detector which he used on me multiple times during my adolescence.

For instance, when I got my first car, the only rule I was subjected to was that I wasn’t allowed to drive at night.  A friend from work and I wanted to go see a movie, which wouldn’t let us out until well past sundown.  I called home and asked if I could spend the night at her house in attempt at getting a more preferable response than if I had asked if I could drive to the movie theater at 7pm.

Dad:  Oh cool.  What are you guys going to do?

Ashlin:  Oh…I don’t know.  Probably nothing.  Might go see that movie that just came out.  But probably nothing.

Dad:  Does she have a car?

Ashlin:  Um…no.

Dad:  Uh-huh… Why don’t you just come home now.

Ashlin:  But it’s only 3 o’clock.

Dad:  You misheard me.  That wasn’t a question.

__________

I fear I have inherited some of his cut-the-shit traits.  Actually, I know I have.

And I’m totally cool with it.

That dude planted an “I-couldn’t-care-less-about-some-piss-ant-poorly-researched-horse-shit” sleeper cell so deeply in my genes that it took a solid 20 years to finally trigger, given that it was offset by the ever all-is-full-of-love genes passed on by my mother (who, not to be downplayed in this debate, kicks some major ass in the academics and sense of humor departments as well).  All I’m saying is the epic battle that went down during that gestation period, I can only imagine.  But truth be told, I’m not that displeased with the results.

I believe that by having a child, a sort of dual-education goes on from both ends of the spectrum.  My dad was brought up in the suburbs of South Philadelphia, which required him to grow a very thick skin and thus contributes to his lack of patience for wimps, procrastinators, and excuse-makers, and is also what has earned him a notorious reputation among his students to be sure not to cross for fear of committing unwitting academic suicide.

It’s also how he snagged my mom, eventually, so we know it can’t be ALL that bad.

I, however, was brought up on what I would consider the completely opposite end of the spectrum.  I had little to worry about apart from making good grades, and was offered ample opportunities without having to grasp for them like the unloading of contents from a pinata and then have to cling to them for dear life.

You would think that such a great difference in upbringing would lend itself to a rather giant rift between character traits between two people.  And I’m sure we butted heads here and there when I acted like a little fartface growing up, but knowing my dad’s shark-skinned attitude toward most things in life, it’s kind of fun to think about how he broke his own rules on the topic of myself and my sister.

He placated me when I ordered him around the playground like a 4-year-old Mussolini.

He happily played the Jew’s harp and harmonica in a tape recording he made for my sister.

He read and re-read the Sunday comics to me because I couldn’t understand the words in the captions.

_________

When I was in Kindergarten, my mom made the mistake of taking me to see the Disney installment of Peter Pan, and I thusly became obsessed with the idea of flying and getting to remain a kid forever.  I guess it’s a testament to how well I was enjoying my childhood, as I remember walking through a Toys-R-Us once and thinking out loud about how I never wanted to get tired of loving this place.  My mom replied,

“Yes, but growing up, you won’t want to keep loving this place.  You’ll find other things to love.”

“I don’t think you’re right, Mommy.”

It was already too late.  I wanted more than anything for the ability to fly, and for the possibility that I might find a way to transcend the widely accepted laws of space-time continuum and remain, in fact, a child for… well, ever.

How I never broke anything in that house is beyond me.

Which is why that year, for Halloween, I chose to be Tinkerbell.

But wait.  Have I explained yet that my mom SEWS?!?!

You guys, my mom sews.  But she doesn’t just sew, she friggin’ SEWS.  And she would be damned if I wore a store bought costume for Halloween that year.  Aw HAYELL NAW.  She brought me to the nearest fabric store where we picked out the best McCall’s pattern for my costume that year, and in the process she picked up another pattern while she was at it.

Then she began SEWING.  Took her several days, but she finally emerged with my Tinkerbell costume, complete with giant poofballs for the feet… As well as full-out CAPTAIN HOOK arrangement for my father.

My dad, a man who has always prided himself on the maintenance of his silverback gorilla persona,  took one look at that get up and IMMEDIATELY TRIED IT ON.

And that Halloween, we went as two of the most venemous enemies who had momentarily buried the hatchet better than the Brits and the Germs did on the Christmas Truce of World War I.

For reference, that’s a Ph. D in there adorning a hook and a very impressively full-bodied wig.

I love you greatly, Dad.  Thanks for the snarky gene.  And the tutelage of how to put it aside when the moment calls for it.  Happy Father’s Day.

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