Last year on Father’s Day, I wrote a post (and poem!) about how my dad’s writing influenced mine. Well today is my dad’s birthday, and even though I’m 1500 miles away from where he’s celebrating, I’m thinking of him and wishing him the happiest of days today (and every day, really).
Of all the fond reminiscences I have of spending time with my dad, one popped to the forefront of my mind and really cheered me up this morning. When we were kids, my brother, sister, and I got to take turns spending quality time with Dad. Every so often, he would take one of us out for a night of fun—doing whatever we felt like doing—going to a movie or dinner or roller skating or Sesame Street Live (which for years my sister said was THE BEST NIGHT OF HER LIFE).
One of those “Turns” sticks out in my memory. Dad took me out for surf and turf at a local restaurant called The Blue Heron. It was a Fancy Restaurant (or at least what passed for fancy in our teeny town when I was like 10). I ate SO. MUCH. FOOD. I had many of the little pre-wrapped crackers and breadsticks that came before the meal. I ate my whole salad. I scarfed down an entire lobster tail with LOTS of drawn butter. I consumed all of whatever my potato was (probably fries). And I ate almost my entire steak. (I don’t remember it being very large, but neither was I.) I was absurdly proud of myself, and I think that amused my dad.* We both really enjoyed our food and the time together. It was a meal full of laughter and fun.
After dinner, Dad asked what I wanted to do next. I can’t remember which of us had the idea, but we decided the only reasonable thing to do after a meal like that was to cap it off with one of the best desserts around. So we hopped in the car and headed towards Kopp’s Frozen Custard.** When we got there, we each got a cone. I can’t remember what flavor, but I strongly suspect I had vanilla. It was and remains my favorite flavor.
An important thing to know about Kopp’s (especially in those days) is they have (or at least had) really good burgers. Really good, BIG burgers. And Dad loved them. I’m not sure he’d ever been there and managed to resist ordering a burger. And that night was no different! Even after that silly-huge meal, we split a giant cheeseburger. We may have even had fries (though I could be inventing that). And to top it all off, I ordered…get this…a Diet Coke.
I realize that sounds like the punchline to a really bad joke, but I swear it happened. And despite the gluttony that makes me wince a little bit now, it’s still a very happy memory—even the torturous drive home, during which we both were so overfull we were nearly sick. I learned a couple lessons that night. One was that overeating isn’t cool because you pay for it. (I don’t think I’ve done that to the same degree since.) The other was that the best of times and the best of memories can happen anywhere and take root in anything. A dinner and a drive with Dad may sound slight, but nothing is truly slight when you’re sharing it with someone you love.
So happy birthday Daddy! I’ll have a burger in your honor today.
But just the one, and no custard.
*Yes, I know that sort of overindulgence is totally not-cool in some ways, but at the time, I wanted to be like my daddy, and I was excited when I achieved it, even in such a silly way.
**Why oh why did I link to that? In doing so I discovered today’s flavors are chocolate malt and TURTLE SUNDAE. I was homesick before, but it just reached a new level.
***Actually, the lack of custard is definite. I’m not sure they even have frozen custard places up here in Edmonton. (Please correct me in the comments if I’m wrong!)