My father is a blessing. He’s got his crap with him, and we don’t see eye to eye on many contemporary views, but at his core, he’s a salt of the earth dude. He’s a closet history buff, and can break down government corruption in a way that astounds even me, and I don’t think I’m easily impressed. Get him started on Prescott Bush, and that’s a three hour conversation. No bullshit. It happened yesterday. I have the phone logs.
But aside from missing his calling as a history professor, my father is also the worlds greatest unintentional comedian. He has a way of phrasing things, or initiating conversation that provokes comedy. Take a glimpse of my life.
1. The curious use of the word “magnolia.” The magnolia is the beautiful state flower of Louisiana, and as such, fairly common to see one. If my father calls you a magnolia, however, you are not to feel complimented. You are to find the nearest corner of shame and remain there until you have been summoned. If he calls you a “wild magnolia,” there is no hope for you. You are the most common of all the commoners. For example, the recent pictures at Urban Beach Week would elicit, “Hmph, I guess that sort of thing brings all the wild magnolias out,” from my pops.
2. “Oh. I see.” This is my father’s Christian way of saying, “It only dawned on me just now, how actually full of shit you are. This may also be substituted by, “Incredible,” “That’s a curious situation,” or occasionally just a laugh. He’s fancies himself too old to deal with shenanigans, so you just become his private joke.
3. “There’s something deep at work there.” That’s his way of calling you crazy as catshit. It’s also his way of saying, “Don’t bring that crazy bitch around me.”
4. “Bad Understanding.” Yeah. This is his slur for ignorant black folk. He will not lower himself to call names, but once you’ve reached the level of bad understanding, the wild magnolias have license to spit on you in his book.
5. “How’s Kiki?” Kiki was one of my best friends. Kiki’s mother was the Devil. Not incarnate. Not a shepherd for. THAT HO WAS THE DEVIL. My father knows I can not hear Kiki’s name without a hilarious rib fest on her hateful ass mother. The last time he asked me, my eye twitched, and I think he laughed for 20 minutes.
6. “THAT guy!” This is reserved for individuals that he has deemed failures as husbands, fathers, men, and possibly humans. My dad takes responsibility very seriously, and took care of five children. When he sees a guy shirking the responsibilities of adult manhood, that’s all you get out of him. Two words. It’s probably more than he thinks you’re worth.
7. Wardrobe. My dad politely says “eff you” to fashion. He wears a fanny pack. He has the same cut off sweat pants from the 90s. He puts his glasses on the end of his nose, old man style. In a casual setting, if he is not wearing sweat pants, he is wearing a dress shirt and dockers. There are no linen two pieces and huaraches in this guy’s closet. Fanny packs, and Nike Airs from 1997.
8. “So what is your plan here?” This is code for you having worked on his last nerve with your lack of life planning or generalized screw ups. You need a plan. Now. If you are callign to borrow money, don’t come without a plan. Period.
9. *Deep breath followed by dead silence* You’ve fucked up. It takes forever for him to get to this point. Run.
10. Talking about white people…in front of white people. Looking at him, he’s a stereotypical nerd. He watches the educational channels on cable, and CBS dramas. That makes it difficult to recognize that there beats the heart of a militant there. If he is moved to rail against white folk, it really doesn’t matter who’s there. The whitest white person on earth, and his boss. My pops says, “short hair, don’t care.” He doesn’t take it there with the slurs and the fire breathing; just a very calm, “Well, let’s be frank. This is a white issue.” I have witnessed an individual all but apologize for his whiteness, and my dad, so smooth, shrugged it off and said, “Ah man, look, it’s how society goes; let’s just do better going forward.” GANGSTA.
He can be crotchety at times, but old age has mellowed the dude. This is comedy to me, because behind these code words, I know what he once would have said. Even with his sideways barbs, I’m lucky to have this cat in my life.