I've always thought of my father as a bit of an iconic figure out of a book or beloved film. He has always loomed larger than life. He is a bit of Royal Tenenbaum meets Ralphie’s pop from “A Christmas Story,” with a dash of the patriarch from Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.” Getting a good picture? OK, cool.
He sired 4 children, different as can be; he married maybe the most ridiculously wonderful woman on the planet, and he has had most of his greatest professional success in his 50s. This is a man that has broken bones to save my infant ass from plummeting to my death down a steep staircase, a man who drove hundreds of miles in snow storms to check on my POS college car, a dude who jumped into the Pacific Ocean to rescue me when a sailboat I was on flipped over. He’s a bit of a badass and I love him, deeply.
My father is also a big, steak-eating, camel-smoking, Obama-scoffing Republican.
Much like the lyrics to Denis Leary’s “I’m an Asshole,” my Dad loves football, porno and books about war. He is passionate about baths, coffee, auto auctions, Top Gear, anything British (he loves “Downton Abbey”), The Marx Brothers, and getting slizzered with my Mom in the basement and rocking out to Cream. He is a polarizing figure with most of my dearest friends, where they either want to be his best friend or think he’s a terrifying government type; much like the smoking man from “The X Files.”
I realize I'm giving you a lot of information, but it's because he's a complex guy. You know when you hear Rush Limbaugh on the radio, and you're like, "Who LISTENS to this guy?" I'm here to tell you that my father is a brilliant man who forces me to listen to conservative talk radio. It feels like the paradox of our time, but there you have it.
At my parents’ house, Fox News blares all day long, much to the chagrin of his children and spouse. He watches "THE O’REILLY FACTOR," for Christ’s sake. When I come home to visit, I am immediately bombarded with questions about current political issues or if I still like Obama after he,“…fill in the blank." It can get tedious or boring trying to talk him down from whatever injury he feels the country is experiencing at the hands of the Democratic Party.
And yet, we get along. We beyond get along -- I think my dad is fantastic, even if his ideas are a little... let's call them "right of mine."
Here's why it's kind of amazing to have a father whom you don’t see eye to eye with politically: He helpes me examine my own beliefs. And by "helps," I mean "forces me."
He can articulately and minutely explain his position and why he believes what he believes. My father is one of the most well-read human beings on the planet. Our home has thousands of books from popular fiction to the densest Civil War biography. (He plans on retiring and becoming a Gettysburg Park Ranger/Tour Guide. Tell me that’s not rad!)
When you want to discuss a political issue or current event, my Dad will know the 360 point of view on it. And he can discuss it calmly, reasonably, and dispassionately. Even though his opinion might make me squirm, his logic is sound…he makes me see the opposite view and sometimes, we even can agree! I rarely can discuss hot button issues with people my own age that are equally informed, satisfying or intelligent. Again, his opinions can totally make me squirm. But the dialogue is heartening and makes me smarter!
Cheers to my Dad. Thanks for being such a character. Even if you make us suffer through Rush in the car, defend Sarah Palin and think Dubya will be forgiven by history. I can’t help but tip my hat to someone who sticks up for what they believe with supported evidence, moxie and a rapier wit. Oh, and thanks for driving to upstate New York when I was a senior in college and I totaled my car. That was pretty clutch.