This year, Father’s Day falls on June 16, and while I no longer have a father, I will spend considerable time remembering the one I once had.
He had a gift for malapropisms – if you can call such a thing a gift. And he would say things that didn’t quite make sense, leaving you to wonder what was missing that would have made the thought hang together. When I felt anxious about something, he would always intone, “Today is the tomorrow I worried about yesterday, and it never happened.”
What never happened, I would wonder. Did today never happen? I didn’t think so because I was standing right there in the middle of today. And there was no report of an asteroid crashing into Earth on that night’s evening news. Now that I’m older, I know he meant that whatever I dreaded probably wouldn’t happen. That makes sense, but when you’re 10 it’s hard to fill in the gaps.
My father had a tough time remembering celebrities’ names. Talk show hosts Dick Cavett and Johnny Carson were Dave Cavett and Jackie Carson. Comedian Bill Cosby was Bill Crosby, but singer Bing Crosby was Bing Cosby. The actress who played the “bride” in “Bride of Frankenstein” was Elsa Lanchester unless you were talking with my father, in which case she was Elsa Lancaster. I was a horror movie buff as a kid, and that was one of the few things I could be sure of, but my father would smile as if to ask how I could possibly know anything about Elsa Lancaster when she was a celebrity of his generation and not mine. But it was OK. I didn’t mind because my father was arguably a brilliant man. These little lapses were but proof of his eccentric genius, if you had asked me.
One day at the breakfast table, my father asked me to pass the creamer and somehow managed to muddle Coffee mate with Cremora to ask for the “Cremate.” I nearly vibrated off my chair trying not to laugh.
If I could sit down to breakfast with my father now and he asked me for the Cremate, I would not be tempted to laugh. I would just pass him the creamer and be grateful to hear his voice again.