Monday, April 20, 2009

It's my dad's birthday...

It's my dad's birthday today. I began thinking about all the things he's taught me over the years. Here are just a few...

Cars. From as early as I can remember, there was almost never a discussion that didn't include cars. Whether talking about his first...a 1965 Olds 442 convertible or the canny ability of naming the make, model and year of a classic by the smallest detail such as a piece of a tail light or door handle.

Whenever we were in the car on our way anywhere, he would always narrate the route we were taking as well as other possible ways to our destination. I've later come to realize that his sense of direction is as poor as mine.

When I was 15 yrs old he bought a 1956 Ford Thunderbird. It was "Ford Club Green" with a white hardtop and Continental kit. At the time I had never seen one before and thought it was one of the coolest cars I had ever seen. He would enter it into car shows and take home awards. These events were an education in the appreciation of the automobile. This is also when I obtained my love for Corvettes (specifically a 1963 split window).

He also taught me how to drive a stick shift. In a parking garage in a car that had a broken tachometer and speedometer. The gauges broke during a snow storm and hadn't been repaired yet. It was a brand new Mitsubishi 300GT and I was petrified. He has a rule that still stands today..."you can drive any car I own, just bring it back fueled and clean...and don't be stupid. Cars can be replaced but people cannot". Lets just say that rule enabled me to drive his Jag XJS and Corvette convertible on many a road trip.

College. When it came time to go to college I was told no matter what you are going away for your freshman year. I did. He took me to go visit my first choice in Boston. However, we didn't book a hotel prior and when we got there couldn't find a room anywhere. Turned out it was the Boston Marathon that weekend and there wasn't a room in the entire city. We took a nap in the car and drove back the same day.

After a few attempts at a few schools I made the decision to not continue my education. Rather than freak out and threaten to disown me, he backed my decision but gave a few parameters. The biggest was i wasn't going to "live off him". He didn't want me to become a "bum", which I thought I shouldn't be living on the streets. He then went to the video store, sat me down and had me watch Frank Sinatra in Come Blow Your Horn. I highly recommend it.

How to dress properly. My Bar-Mitzvah suit came from Barneys. Not the one everyone knows today uptown on Madison Avenue, but the original, downtown, on 17th and Seventh. I learned the importance of a tailor, how to match a tie to a shirt and a shirt to a suit. How to tie that tie. Cuff or no cuff. Where my pants should break on my shoe. Collar stays to him are like no wire hangers to Joan Crawford.

He was wearing jeans with sport jackets before I was even born. He was wearing Stan Smiths while Stan Smith was still playing tennis. Wore the same style of Cole Haan driving shoes till the cancelled the style a few years back. Denim shirts with REAL pearl buttons. His original LV attache. The mans got style.

Now, don't get me wrong. There have been both ups and downs over the years. Quite a few actually. I guess as one gets older the downs aren't as important as the ups. Plus, he's always tried to ensure I learn from each and every mistake he's ever made, but its his birthday and you're not gonna hear about those...

Like I said, these are just a few.

Happy Birthday Dad. Thanks for all the gifts you've given me.

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