Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Unmitigated Praise

Dad is not one given to speaking an encouraging word.  He is disinclined to giving praise in any form.  I'm not kidding here.  When I brought home report cards that were straight As I'd be asked why they were not A+s.  If he was in a good mood I'd be told, "That will suffice."  There are exactly two things which will earn some small measure of positive reinforcement.  One: I can thumb my nose at authority.  Dad's chest will puff with pride if I publicly get in the face of some Napoleonic figure and tell that person where to get off.  (And with that admission I offer you one more peek into the bizarre universe that is my psyche...)  Two: I can bake him a funny cake (find a picture and recipe at the bottom of this post).  This will generally prompt a comment along the lines of, "Damn, kid.  This is good stuff."  He will then make happy noises as he devours it rapidly.

You also need to understand that Dad is not prone to spontaneous correspondence.  In the last two decades pretty much the only time he initiates contact is to let me know his itinerary for some trip he is taking ( so as to both induce envy and to let me know from where I might need to ship his body if some horrible fate befalls him, which is a very real possibility in certain instances) or to ask if my kids want him to renew the subscription to whatever magazine he sends them.  I'm pretty sure I can count on one hand the times he's opened communication without it being related to some other topic....though to his credit he did make the first move when I only had one good hand for counting since the other one was mangled beyond use at the time.

Bear in mind this post is in no way intended as a complaint or to evoke pity.  I'm at peace with Dad.  We're cool.  I accept who he is.  I think he mostly accepts who I am.  You just need to understand who he is to quite grasp the magnitude of the email which I found in my inbox last night.  Here for your pleasure (and for all posterity) I reproduce, in it's entirety, the email which was for my edification.



Michelle:


Your funny cake is always good, but as your wicked stepmother* said, this one is "spectacular". Perhaps it is because the goo on the bottom is thicker than usual. Whatever the reason, I have difficulty in restricting myself to 1/4 pie per serving.


Dad


* for the record, she is the most unwicked stepmother ever as evidenced in this post

8 comments:

Craig said...

You made me laugh with your Dad's report-card comment. I still tell my kids about the time I brought home a report card with three A's, two A+'s and one A-; and my dad said, "What's up with the A-?" I'm sure it scarred me deeply. . .

Good for your dad that he can still surprise you with unexpected praise. . .

(And you know that, as one with multiple parents myself, I really enjoyed the link at the bottom. . .)

crazy4coens said...

There you go! Thank God you can bake. It must be true that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach - which actually might explain a lot about my life. Things that make you say, hummmm.

Beach Bum aka Captain Barbossa said...

My dad-in-law is the same way, I was married to his daughter for two years before he offered me a beer at his house. I said something about it to him and about finally being accepted into the family he looked at me like I was crazy.

His response was that he only said something because he had begun to think I didn't know where he kept the beer and that he considered me family and at home in his house.

Ten minutes later the old fart told me be a good son-in-law and go get us both another beer. I think I was setup.

G-Man said...

We know how you feel about Mary.

Craver Vii said...

Monumental!

clean and crazy said...

awe, this makes me miss my father. he was pretty strange in his own right too. a different generation i guess

(M)ary said...

OHHHH. Don't you love it when recalcitrant (sp?) fathers speak praise in full sentences??

My dad is a lack of praiser too. I sincerely believe that men of a certain generation believe that fleeting thoughts count as full sentences and they believe they have given more praise then they have actually given!

So I am SURE your Dad thinks of you with highest regard. He just wasn't ever trained to say it out loud.

Jocelyn said...

Oh, this is AWESOME. Surprise praise is the best of all.