Guest blogger Michael Noble returns with a tale of father and daughter bonding. And since this past Sunday was Father’s Day, I thought I’d post this week’s blog a day early.
“Honey, seeing that sunset reminds me that you gotta keep ’em laughing…”
All of us – every single one – have memories of school. Good, bad, indifferent. I have many. Some, interesting even. *snort*
That time in science class during high school when I sublimated too much iodine, causing a purple cloud to erupt within the room followed immediately by an evacuation. Being threatened weekly to watch my back by juniors and seniors just because I was one of the tallest freshman on campus. Spending half my wrestling practices with my face buried in the armpit of a much larger opponent. (I exited wrestling pretty quickly realizing it wasn’t the sport for me.)
So many more memories.
Good times, all. Well … many of them were, looking back. At the time? In the midst of them? Maybe not so much.
So fast forward to parenting, my kids and their schooling. I have been fortunate enough to be part of many memory making moments for them. One in particular.
Since her early, formative years, my youngest daughter has always been a bit hesitant and wary of things. “Cautious” might be a better word. School did nothing but ramp that attitude up; in fact school seemed to exacerbate her condition. It led to a greater degree of introverted behavior. She kept to herself a lot.
That’s not to say she didn’t participate when asked. She simply had to be coaxed. And often.
I was the one doing much of the coaxing, letting her know she’d enjoy something if she’d just try it. Counseling her, I would say things such as “What’s the worst that could happen? You don’t like it? That’s okay … at least you tried.” At least she saw the logic in that.
When she was in the 1st grade, I remember her coming home from school one day, downtrodden.
“I don’t have a talent” she told me, full of exasperation.
“What do you mean you don’t have a talent?” I asked.
“We’re supposed to do something for show and tell during open house in two weeks. Sing or dance or tell a story or something. I can’t do any of those things.”
“Sure you can!” I cajoled her. “Do you know what some of the other kids doing?”
“One of them is playing the piano,” she stated. “Another girl is doing something from a ballet class she’s in. I can’t do anything …”
“How about making them all laugh?” I offered.
“You tell a joke,” I explained. “You can do that. I’ve heard you do it lots of times.”
She frowned. “That’s not a talent.”
“Sure it is. Do you know how hard it is to tell a joke, a really good joke, and make everybody laugh?”
She thought about it a moment. “Well … okay. Do you have any jokes I can tell, Dad? Some really good ones?”
Of course I did. I had a million of them.
“As a matter of fact, I do. You remember the talking sausage joke, don’t you?”
“I think so,” she said, visible concern on her face revealing she was doing her best to recall said joke. “Wait … you mean the one with the talking sausage?” Her face lit up. I didn’t quite understand her rationale in hearing from me what the joke was then her asking virtually the same, but it got her excited … and that’s all that counted.
“That’s the one! Look … here’s what we’ll do: Your open house isn’t for a couple weeks, right? We have that long to practice. I’ll help you all along the way and you’ll be a perfect when it comes time to do it.”
“Okay!” she said excitedly.
We got down to business. We practiced right up until the time of the open house. I taught her all the hand gestures, all the inflections, the right timing, everything. She was still a bit hesitant when it came right down to it but familiarity was the key to her nailing the thing. I taught her the importance of being big and bold and loud in the telling and convinced her it would work spectacularly. I was putting my reputation – and her fragile constitution – on the line.
And then? When the time came? It was off to the open house we went.
Several kids were ahead of her. The piano playing girl was there and did her thing. Everyone was impressed. A few other kids did stuff I can’t remember. Then, suddenly, it was my daughter’s turn.
Her teacher called her and she went up to the front of the class. She turned and looked right at me. I smiled and gave her a big thumbs up and charade-reminded at her to be big and loud.
She announced rather awkwardly “My talent is going to be a joke that will make all of you laugh,” to everyone in the room, kids and adults alike. I saw her teacher smile.
She steeled herself and began: “There were these two sausages in a frying pan on the stove. One sausage turned over and said to the other (she wiped her brow with the back of one hand animatedly as she turned to the imaginary sausage and spoke) ‘Whew! It sure is hot in here!'”
She looked at me again and I gave her another thumbs up.
“Then then other said (and she jumped back and screamed as she delivered the punchline) ‘AAAAAH! TALKING SAUSAGE … !!!‘”
Now, here’s the deal: I still tell this joke to this very day. I find it freaking hilarious. I’ve used it over and over and over again. I even opened a seminar with it, much to the chagrin of my boss who begged me not to do it. But I convinced him it would break the ice and win the crowd over. (It did.) So, how did this terrific and wonderful joke go over as my daughter relayed it?
Well, good news and bad news, bad news first.
The Bad News: Not a single kid laughed. Not a one. They just stared at her, not moving, not getting the joke in the least. Complete silence.
“…Talking sausage. It’s a talking… Is this mic on?”
The Good News: Every single adult in the room got the joke, startled from my daughter’s screaming punchline. And then? They clapped, they applauded her.
“Hot crowd, tonight! Hot crowd!”
My daughter was beaming. She walked from the front of the room right up to me and high fived me with a big fat smile on her face.
It was a proud father/daughter moment, a passing of the torch so to speak.
Thanks, Michael! You can read more by Michael Noble at Hotchka.com.
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Images used under Fair Use.