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A Nomad’s Notes: A dedication to Dan the Man

Earlier this month, my old man celebrated the big 5-5. So in his honor, I thought I would share 10 anecdotes/information/stories about my dad so you can get some semblance of an idea of his personality and idiosyncrasies (or idiothinkrathies, as my late grandma liked to say), in no particular order:

1. He can sing, but not on key. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten lost when singing happy birthday with the family because I immediately tune into his incorrect notes and become mired in confusion. Typically I end up singing over him to help others find their way back to the right notes.

2: Despite the lack of singing on key, that doesn’t stop him from attempting to sing other rock songs. When I was growing up, and usually whenever I go back to Kentucky to visit, Pearl Jam or The Who or some other band we both like will come on the stereo, loudly, thanks to my dad, and he’ll typically start drumming along on some item, or start singing loudly, with some parts more emphasized than others. I’ll typically join in with him and out of the corner of my eye watch my stepmom, who’s not a fan of loud music.

3: When he was a little boy, my dad had a hard time pronouncing the word “cookie.” According to my grandma, what he would say instead was, “C-c-c-tookie!” No word on when he finally learned the error of his ways.

4: No matter what is in the fridge, if it’s been in there a reasonable amount of time and no one else has touched it, it’s his. I’m pretty sure we used to eat cold pizza together until one day I cut that nonsense from my life and learned to always use the microwave. But for him, cold is fine. I’ve even caught him shoveling cold spaghetti into his mouth at like 9 p.m. Then he usually wants to hug me, and I avoid his breath.

One time, my friend Leah and I were on vacation with my dad and stepmom, and we went to a Japanese restaurant for dinner one night. Leah ordered orange chicken and didn’t finish it all, so she got a box.

About a day later or so (to be honest probably less than 24 hours later) Leah and I were watching something on my laptop on the couch when my dad came into the kitchen area. We both watched as he opened the fridge, took out a white box, and closed the fridge. As he turned to walk back to his and Judy’s, room he paused and stared at us, and we stared right back, before he just kept walking, none of us saying a word. It was like something out of “The Emperor’s New Groove” or some other cartoon with that brand of humor. Leah and I have revisited it/reenacted it quite a bit over the years.

5: He’s very particular about things, to a point where people throw around the term “OCD” a bit too loosely. When I went home for Christmas, my sister and I volunteered to help vacuum the house since my dad and stepmom were hosting Christmas Eve. We spent a good hour finishing one entire floor of the house, making sure we got all of the rooms we needed to in the best order we could. But as soon as we were done, he came upstairs and said, “This isn’t right. You have to vacuum it so you can see the lines in the carpet.” We always thought you were supposed to vacuum so the carpet looked smooth. Apparently we thought wrong.

6: My dad has a country accent, but there’s only one particular place I can hear it: in his voicemail. My father was born in Park Ridge, a town outside Chicago, and moved to Danville, Ky., when he was a young boy. Since then he’s been in the South, essentially, whether it be in Kentucky or a short stint in Georgia, where I was born. But to this day, just hearing him speak to me through the phone or in person, I discern no accent whatsoever. His oldest sister still lives in Chicago and has an accent, and his other sister, who’s only a few years older and has been in Kentucky most of her life, both maintain their Chicago accents. But not my dad. As I said, the only time I can hear it is when my call doesn’t reach him and instead I hear, “Hi, this is Dayun Kreeiz ...”

7: I am a spitting image of him. Of course now that I’m older I would say I’m a good mix of him, my aunt in Kentucky, my late grandmother and my mom (if curly hair and big eyes count). But one time I was in the kitchen at my dad’s house and I noticed a photograph on the table. It was me in a football uniform. The thing was, I never played football. And I don’t remember any black and white photos ever being taken of me when I was younger, except for those silly sepia Wild Wild West-style photos parents take of their kids on trips to Gatlinburg, Tenn. So for a few seconds I was genuinely confused about the photograph before realizing it was of my dad. I haven’t seen that photo since, which reminds me: I need to ask about it. But it helped me realize that if my dad were to ever go on “Maury” and try to deny his paternity the audience would laugh him off the stage.

8: I credit him with most of my musical tastes. Of course my mother gets some credit, too (when I told her I was starting to listen to Led Zeppelin, she freaked out and ransacked her stuff to find me all the albums she had). But when I think of three of my five favorite bands — Pearl Jam, the Police, REM — I remember him playing their music when I was a kid, the house windows open to let in a spring or summer breeze. It was a level of happiness and contentment I couldn’t really describe; it was basically like I could still remember parts of heaven before my memory of it was lost. Or, it could’ve been that I was completely happy and carefree because I was too young to have school work or bills to pay.

Sometimes when I need to focus on a place to feel a sense of calm and peace and even wonder, I’ll think of that time when I couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6.

Our connection was reinforced when I found a piece of paper in his car with the words “Beck, Devil’s Haircut” on them. That is one of my favorite songs of all time, and knowing he didn’t know that but heard the song and loved it made me add another check to the proverbial list of all the ways we’re alike.

9: I am just like my dad in that I don’t have an inside voice when it comes to phone calls. Quite often my sister will tell me to please stop yelling into the phone, even though I think I’m at a normal volume, and will say, “Oh my God, you’re just like Dad.” And I am. And like my dad, I apparently have a hard time keeping an inside voice in person, too. I have a coworker here who says I constantly yell into the phone. This coworker, however, barely speaks above a whisper. I PREFER MY YELLING.

10: My dad’s got a very unique walking style. It’s not one that I could describe as well as I could show, but I’ll just say it’s slow, deliberate and relaxed at the same time. On multiple occasions on multiple vacations I’ve stood on our beachfront balcony to try and find him among the people walking on the beach, and I spot him every time, all because of his impressive gait.

Happy belated birthday, Dan the Man. I love you!

 

Lindsay Kriz is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email lkriz@brunswickbeacon.com.