This sadly neglected blog is probably that thing I’ve done, of which my parents are the most proud. My dad especially. The blog is a staple on every computer-ish gadget in our home (and there are lots of computer-ish gadgets in our home). He loves to ask me about the blog, suggest ideas for the blog, tell people they should read the blog, hand people his iPhone if they express a modicum of interest in my blog…. Now, my mom is most certainly responsible for any writing skills that I do possess but my father might be surprised to learn that he’s responsible for my fascination with punctuation. Specifically, the exclamation point.
Sid Shoemaker is an incredible man. My gratitude and admiration for him have only grown as I’ve matured. To know my father is to like him. Deep down in your gut. You can’t help it. He’s the happiest, most open, most authentic, most hardworking man I will ever know. You feel happy when you’re near him. Extraordinary common sense mixed with a presence and peace and humor that radiates through every moment of his life. He is simply the best father, the best husband, and the best friend that you will ever have the pleasure of spending your day with. And for about 6 years in my adolescence, my dad’s primary purpose in life was to torture me mercilessly.
I rarely fought with my mother, but my father and I would frequently go ten rounds over the little things. For example, he was very frustrated that I often wore two or… five shirts in one day. He also seemed to think that the floor was an unreasonable storage place for them. He was often frustrated when I bought two-dollar cans of beans instead of the 64-cent variety as well as my habit of turning on every single light. He always wanted to know where I was (if only he knew that all those boys were just closeted and harmless. Or straight and a little scared of me). He wasn’t a fan of my messy cooking, my exploding bookbag, or my habit of running his car into things like bricks walls.
At least twice a month for about two years, we would both end up furious and yelling. His face and neck would tint cherry red, starting near the hairline and moving outwards. His eyebrows would lift, and his mustache would somehow get smaller. Usually these episodes ended with me in tears, slamming the nearest door. Ten minutes later, as I lay in my room, bemoaning the impossible miseries of being a middle-class white girl with a loving family, the sound of my father whistling would float through the air-vents.
It pissed me off so much.
Sid Shoemaker is the most stubbornly cheerful man I have ever met. And it’s because he chooses to be that way. See, I used to think that whistling was a habit for my dad: a mindless activity that just sort of floated out of him, specifically designed by God to annoy the living daylights out of me. Then I grew out of my gross-teenager-phase and Dylan grew into his. And that’s when I really saw my Dad clearly. He’d be that lovely color of cherry red, Dylan would slam the door. And then Dad would look at me and throw his arms above his head like an angry Jewish matriarch. Or a Catholic man with three spoiled kids. And then he’d literally shake it off. Take a deep breath. And start whistling. At first, the whistling is kind of… scary and intense. Something is deeply incongruous about the airiness of the whistling and the angry shuddering of his mustache, but after about three minutes, it’s like nothing ever happened. The man REFUSES to sacrifice a moment of his life to negativity. And he is genuinely confused by those who can’t just… whistle their way to happiness.
See, when you choose punctuation for a sentence: you aren’t really changing the sentence. The sentence still means exactly the same thing it did before BUT you have decided the tone. You don’t change the story but you can change your experience through punctuation. Sid Shoemaker chooses an exclamation point every day of his life and if I am half as happy as my father when I’m 50… That’s more than okay too.
Happy Birthday Dad. For your present, you’ll have the chance to turn me into the Pulitzer Prize winner you’re convinced that I am: 15 coupons from me to you! That’s right! A twist on the ol’ throwback. You present me with a coupon, and I owe you and my other 2.3 adoring fans a post within 7 days. You can even make theme requests. Let the fun begin. Of note: I was going to give Sid ten coupons, but seeing as I thought his birthday was today (and I have the pop-tarts to prove it!) and his birthday was actually two days ago, and Sid therefore didn’t get a phone call from his favorite daughter ON HIS BIRTHDAY, I felt like he deserved a bonus. And a hug. I owe him a hug.)