Almost five years ago I took a walk with my dad. It was December and we were on the beach; he held a glass of wine, I held my sandals and the two of us walked for miles. We talked about everything from the importance of family to high school classes to leaving home to studying abroad. That night he told me his father explained to him and his two siblings that there were three things they should do as they grew up and left home: learn to write well, learn to speak in public, and travel.
Dad, while these lessons passed on from Grandpa have stuck with me as I’ve entered my twenties, here are some things you taught me without even knowing it:
1. Save save save your money. But no penny was ever wasted on books.
2. Don’t wear hats in restaurants.
3. Sunday is opposite day.
4. A person only needs three pairs of shoes: tennis shoes, wet weather shoes, and winter boots.
5. All good speeches begin with a good joke.
6. Dousing oneself in invisible spray is the best chore-evasion tactic.
7. Travel to Europe
8. Get drunk in Europe.
9. Don’t hand money to the homeless; give them a hot meal instead.
10. Get a dog.
11. There is a difference between real cheese and cheese product.
12. Call your grandparents on every holiday.
13. A good fire starts with good kindling.
14. “Macbeth” is not an item on the dollar menu.
15. Don’t eat a salad for dinner if tacos are an option.
16. Most people don’t discover their passion in their 20s; some, not until their 40s.
17. You’re never too old to go to the circus.
18. You’re never too young to read Edgar Allan Poe.
19. First in, first out.
20. Tiramisu means “pick me up” for a reason.
21. It’s OK to be bad at something as long as that something isn’t your career.
22. Keep a journal.
23. Everything tastes better à la mode.
24. Breakfast should be a production, not just a meal.
25. Comedic timing is everything.
26. Don’t laugh at church, but if you have to, try not to make the whole pew shake.
27. Buy new shoes only once the old ones are irreparable.
28. Master of the Leftovers (MOTLO) is a real title and one to be proud of.
29. In an emergency, coffee pots are suitable drinking vessels.
30. Call your mother.
31. Never read a children’s book aloud without using animated voices.
32. Order the fries.
33. Sing loudly—especially if you don’t know the lyrics.
34. Learn another language.
35. You can sleep when you’re dead; in the meantime, if you’re tired take a nap.
36. Buy a lottery ticket.
37. Old school stove-top popcorn is better than the microwave stuff.
38. Hakuna Matata isn’t just for Disney movies.
39. Family dinners are non-negotiable.
40. Expiration dates are.
41. Trade in a night of studying for one of good conversation.
42. Watch “Mrs. Doubtfire.”
43. No ocean is too cold; don’t be the last to run in.
44. Always keep toilet paper, lightbulbs, and Scotch tape in inventory.
45. Toast is never burnt; it’s simply “golden brown.”
46. Build your vocabulary.
47. Sometimes a spontaneous trip to Walden Pond is worth an encounter with the police.
48. Sticky notes aren’t just for office memos.
49. Life’s too short to diet.
50. Read the manual.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you.
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