Whenever the holidays roll around, our thoughts inevitably turn to my late father, a man with a great sense of humor, a love of animals, and a passion for food.

Late in life, once he started experiencing health issues, the family doctor put him on a special diet.  No fried foods.  No sweets.  Just  lean meats and fresh veggies prepared with little oil moving forward.  Of course, it was my mother who was expected to follow those instructions once they returned home.  And, of course, it was my father who grumpily refused to eat until mom prepared something he actually enjoyed – namely everything he’d been told to steer clear of.

Months later, my mother accompanied dad for a check-up.  The doctor informed him that his cholesterol was higher than ever.  Had he been following the diet he’d been given?  Realizing there was no point in lying, my father admitted he had, in fact, been eating the same fried foods he been instructed to steer clear of.

“Why?”asked the doctor, incensed.

“It’s not my fault,”my father shrugged.  “That’s just the way my wife cooks.”

The story is made all that more memorable by the fact that my mother was in the examination room with him at the time and though steamed, said nothing!

My father loved seafood.  And he also loved all-you-can-eat deals.  So when a local seafood restaurant announced an all-you-can-eat shrimp dinner special, my father HAD to check it out.

At the restaurant, he informed the waiter he was there for the all you can eat shrimp special, sat back and waited.  Fifteen minutes later, he was served – an order of five shrimp.

“What’s this?”asked my father.

“Shrimp,”said the waiter.

“I ordered the all-you-can eat.”

“Oh, you can eat all you want,”the waiter assured him.  He could order once he was done.

My father was a man of quaint sayings.  “He’s bats in the belfry” and “Wouldn’t that jar your preserves?” were two of his go-to’s.  Another favorite, which he uttered on this particular night, was “I leave this much on my plate when I’m done.”  He placed his order for a second round, polished off his five shrimp and waited.  And waited.

Twenty minutes later, his second serving of shrimp arrived – this time, a meager three.  My father was outraged.  The waiter, for his part, seemed amused by my dad’s can-do attitude, once again assuring him he could eat as much as he wanted…once he had finished what was on his plate.

Some fifteen minutes later, the waiter returned to check on him.  “Would you like anything else?”he asked.

“Yes!”said my father, incensed.  “More shrimp!”

The waiter seemed surprised, but nevertheless headed off to inform the kitchen. They had a live one!

Another twenty minute wait and another lowly three shrimp later, the waiter returned and asked if my father wanted dessert.

“No,”my father angrily informed him.  “I want more shrimp.”

“More shrimp?!”said the waiter, no doubt casting his gaze about the room to spot the hidden camera, seemingly amazed by my father’s inhuman ability to consume more than eleven shrimp.

Needless to say, my father never went back – and never failed to repeat this story whenever future all-you-can-eat opportunities arose.

Another one of my favorite dad stories took place one hot summer day when my sister and I were kids.  Back then, my parents would purchase frozen orange juice concentrate for us.  All we had to do was mix it with cold water and, voila, instant orange juice.  That’s ALL we had to do but, apparently, actually making the orange juice was such a hardship that my sister and I avoided doing so at all costs.  There was an unwritten rule that whoever finished the juice would have to make the next batch and so, we went to great pains to avoid pouring that last glass.  As  a result, the remnants of that orange juice container would sit for days, sometimes weeks, as Andria and I would play our own version of chicken.  In the case of this particular batch, it must have sat there for close to a month as my sister and I dug in our heels, and that orange fermented and fizzed.

And then, that hot summer’s day, my father walked into the kitchen, parched and perspiring after mowing the lawn, poured himself a glass of orange juice, and knocked it back.  I suspect he was so thirsty that he didn’t realize at first – and then the taste must have hit him.  From downstairs, I heard what had to have been the most violent spit take in history, then walked upstairs to find my father, clearly in shock, wide-eyed and red-faced, sitting behind a table spattered with month old orange juice.

I’d like to say it was a singular event but, sadly, this incident was proceeded by another surprisingly similar one months later.  My dad always enjoyed a glass of iced water before bed.  He’d pour himself a glass, drop in some ice cubes, then head into the adjoining room to watch the Carol Burnett Show, allowing the ice to melt, the water to chill.  One night, I was walking past the kitchen when I heard the sound of something clinking in the darkness.  I turned on the light and discovered our cat, paw deep in the water glass, attempting to snag an elusive ice cube.  It was the most adorable thing and I made a note to mention it to my sister as I turned off the light and headed up to my room.

Later that night, I returned to find my father sitting in the kitchen in front of an empty water glass.

“Hey,”I said.  “What happened to the water in that glass?”

“I drank it,”said my father.

“You drank it?”  As if it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard and, really, my father should have known better.  “The cat had it’s paw in that water.”

Needless to say, my father took it about as well as a mouthful of month-old orange juice.

And finally, there was the time my mother went away for a week, leaving my father to look after my sister and I.  The day before her return, my father set about cleaning up, doing household chores that he’d probably never done before in his life.  Like laundry.  I recall walking downstairs and discovering him sweating as he labored, ironing the bath towels.

The bath towels!

And there was the time we went to the Win-Wah Buffet and he was trying to get that waiter’s attention.

But I’d best leave that one for another time.

22 thoughts on “December 26, 2016: Dad Stories!

  1. Awww. What great stories and great memories! And it sounds like both our Dads shared an affinity for wanting to get their money’s worth at the all-you-can-eats.

    Thanks so much for sharing, and reminding me of some of my own fine memories of my very much missed Dad.

  2. He sounds like my dad (except Dad did do housework – said he’d rather have my mom spend time with him than have them separated while she did dishes). The doctor told him that due to high blood pressure he’d need to give up smoking. “No cigarette should ever touch your lips!” My dad bought a cigarette holder.

  3. That was some very sweet and dear “Dad stories” … oh yes.
    I lost my Dad in 1979. I remember one of his favorite things was eating an entire half gallon of rum raisin or butternut ice cream, with a large tablespoon, parked in front of some ball game on the TV. That was his reward for working hard. I was always amazed to see that amount of ice cream disappear in a single sitting. No matter the season, ice cream was king! He did not do this nightly, but weekly, perhaps.
    To this day, I can eat ice cream, not low fat, light or ice milk, but the real deal, any time, day or night. Just not a half gallon at a time! 😀

    Cherish your Dad’s memory – always…

  4. Ha ha! Great stories. And yes I remember hating having to stir that frozen concentrate orange juice too. My brothers and I never wanted to do it. The other one we had to deal with for a year or so I remember was powered milk. No one wanted to mix that with water either. 🙂

  5. When my mom went away for my Grandfather’s funeral, my dad stayed home to look after us. My mom phoned one night to check on us. We spent the entire time complaining about my dad’s cooking, which really was not that bad. The next night, and until my mom returned, we got Swanson TV Dinners. Yes! One for the kids!

  6. My dad did the opposite of that with the towels when my mom was in the hospital. He wrung them out, then put them over the clothesline, still twisted. They did dry… Hey, somebody’s got to challenge assumptions and experiment with chores to make sure we’re putting effort into the right places. And, yep, we were. Flat towels are better than towel logs.

  7. Well I was going to say something sentimental about remembering parents, then Greg Long wrote >>I suspect that I am currently creating my daughter’s equivalent of those dad stories<< and I nearly choked on my root beer. No joke… my daughter will probably write a book about me. Except no one will believe the things she claims I did or said. 🙂

    Your dad sounds like he was a rascal! Bless your mom, I'd have bopped him on the head!

    Happy holidays to all. Or at least a little peace.

  8. Great stories! One of my Dad’s favourites was “Eat your ice cream before it gets cold”.

  9. I love your Dad stories… My Dad’s still around….I remember the time we went on a trip for a netball tournament I was playing in.I had to be in bed early, so Dad took my sister out. Mum was getting a bit worried when they hadn’t returned by 10pm. Then Dad & Sis (mid teens) walked in and Dad threw their winnings on the motel bed. They had found some races. No matter where we travel in the country, Dad will find horse or greyhound races.

    My Mum passed away four years ago. I used to love sitting on her bed & discussing our favourite shows or discussing a murder case when we were reading true crime. Stargate was an awesome show we shared. I would go over for dinner Thursday nights when Dad worked & we would watch it together, either on TV or on DVD.

    Cheers, Chev

    Cheers, Chev

    PS. I won my Fantasy Football Championship- that’s two in a row. Woohoo!!!

  10. That was example of fine writing. I could vividly picture your dad. Thank you, for that!

    Happy holidays!

  11. Wonderful dad stories. So quintessentially Dad. Thank you for sharing.

    My husband was once asked to leave a restaurant having an all you can eat fish special. He’d gotten through 28 fish fillets before they told him he had to go, as they were running out of fish for the other customers.

  12. Great stories about your Dad, many thanks for sharing 👍
    Both my parents have passed away and my sister and I love chatting about our memories and sharing them with our families.

  13. Thanks for sharing, Joe. Your warm thoughts and memories about your father make me think and feel the same about my own. It made a great Christmas present for me. Thanks.

    -Mike A.

  14. Well let me see if I can still do this. I am having an issue logging into the computer as me and have to do it as a guest. I cannot see your hole site Joe because it errors out. Frustrating yes, but workable. I am still working through my injury so I will attempt to keep this cogent and relevant, so my apologies. I hope you had a meaningful break. I happened to find my long waited DVD that I have not watched since I received it. I am slowly finding things. I am talking about my complementary copy of RUSH’s last concert in Toronto.

    I bought the ticket for main floor and as it turned out it was a concert they were taping and it was their last concert tour. I had never been to Toronto but had read many stories by you and was a long time RUSH fan, so I thought now was the time. Toronto is an interesting place. No, it is not as comfortable as Vancouver (of whose concert on their previous tour I saw), but Toronto has a lot to ofter. I did not know it was a TV Mecca like Vancouver. I did come across a show’s production site while walking around downtown. It turned into a really messy spot. I also watch the last episode of season 2. Planned to watch it at its broadcast time but something got in the way. I did buy a copy from iTunes which turned out to be a better idea.
    I did visit many restaurants you mentioned in many of your posts. I was really quite surprised when I put the DVD into my computer. It had Zoe.. Production as part of the credits. I know you mentioned Zoe on your blog quite often and there is a Zoe sandwich shop near Soma on Queen Street. You also mentioned her as part of the input on your blog, but I never thought of the connection. Great Memories and fond experience. I await to find the Android’s new name.

  15. Oh my gosh I loved this entry. I could see it all playing out in my mind. The cat’s paw in the water was funny. You should write more of these for us.

    Loved reading everyone else’s stories in the blog section, too.

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