My father and I are very close but are diametrically opposed when it comes to politics and the nature of political correctness. While I have never heard him use the term snowflake, I am sure he has thought it. Before you start thinking he is up there with David Duke, let me clarify by saying he is a big hearted, incredibly generous man who is fiscally conservative, socially moderate and completely oblivious. He is the epitome of a 75 year old Australian white man who grew up in Queensland, the Florida of Australia (but less progressive). Every now and then I can’t keep my mouth shut and we get into it. One of those times I said something to him about being flexible and his response was, “I can barely get my leg in my underpants, how do you expect me to be flexible?”
The other day I was on the phone with him and asked if I could talk to Mom for a minute. He told me to hold on and that he would use the intercom to let her know. I thought, “What intercom? Since when do they have an intercom? Does the phone have an intercom?” I said as much to him and he said, “I just need to find it, hold on.” I wondered why he didn’t yell that I was on the phone like he usually does and then I heard him scream, “Clea’s on the phone. Pick up!” He got back on after Mom and said, “How’d you like the intercom?” It was typical Dad – a Blockeyism – as I like to call them.
One of the things that frustrates and amuses me about my dad is that he says he knows his audience and that I shouldn’t worry about what he says. An example of this was when we were celebrating New Year’s Eve with a friend of mine who happens to be gay and Dad turned on Abba. Dancing Queen came on and he looked at David and said, “This one’s for you!” Fortunately David has a good sense of humor and a high tolerance for straight white men of a certain age.
One of my father’s favorite comments is that he is dying of “Burke & Wills Disease.” There were two famous Australian explorers, Robert O’Hara Burke & William John Wills, who traveled from Melbourne, in the south, to the Gulf of Carpentaria, in the north. The story goes that they died of hunger and thirst while exploring the Australian Outback. It turns out that they didn’t die from hunger and thirst, they poisoned themselves by mistake. My father is not an explorer and hasn’t been known to miss many meals but he may have to rethink his comment otherwise people will think my mother is poisoning him. Although I am sure the thought has crossed her mind many times… When he says he is dying of Burke & Wills disease (usually at someone else’s house) it is will be followed by a comment along the lines of “the wine is flowing like glue.” Because he “knows his audience,” he has no shame about saying it. This is when I wish the earth would open up and swallow me whole so that I can hide from the embarassment.
When people tell me that he isn’t that bad, I think back to all the times I have said that about someone else’s parents. Was I lying? Were they really not that bad or was I being nice? Christmas should be fun!