You are Powerless to Resist!

the dog
Originally uploaded by Aunt B..

Don’t stare too long. Whenever she gives me this look, I feel compelled to put her in the car and take her to the park.

You may feel compelled to print her out and also put her in your car.

She’s very persuasive when she wants to be.

A Whiff of Apocrypha

So, my dad wants me to write his biography and call it “Lies My Father Told Me.” He’s always coming up with these hairbrained (harebrained?) ideas to keep me busy with him even after he’s dead.

For instance, once he dies, he wants me to take his corpse up the the natural history museum in Chicago and let the bugs eat the flesh off his bones and take his skeleton back to my house and pull him out and put him on the porch for Halloween every year. Plus, I must pass him down to my children so that he can be a burden on them as well.

I’ve told him I’d consider having his skeleton encased in plastic and using him as a coffee table, but he’s not as excited about that. I also told him that if he wanted anything other than being stuck in the ground done to his remains, he’d better put it in his will, but he hasn’t done that yet.

Back to the book. Yes, he wants me to write his biography. This would be difficult because, as you may have guessed from the title he’s chosen, my dad is full of shit. Who can say what stories he’s told me that have shaped me in my formative years are actually untrue?

Here are the two most memorable ones:

1. My dad ran over Stevie Wonder’s dog. This little untruth was told when I was bugging him about whether he’d ever met any famous people. I don’t know why, but in grade school, I was convinced that everyone’s parents must know someone famous. Since my dad was from Michigan, it didn’t seem unreasonable to me that he might know Motown stars. Okay, so I wasn’t very bright. I was 10.

So, he said, why yes, he had met someone famous, Stevie Wonder, when he ran over Stevie Wonder’s dog. Under what circumstances? Well, apparently he was at a Tigers game with my uncle B. and my other uncle B. (and my other, other uncle B. may also have been along, but who knows?) and since my uncle B. had polio, he was allowed to park up close and he and everyone in his party could sit up close. This all is true.

This next part is not: So, one game they left early, as they often did, and as they were backing out of the parking spot, they heard a thud and turned around to see a young blind kid standing very close to the bumper. My dad jumped out and saw Stevie Wonder (who had been to the game to sing the national anthem) and his now dead seeing eye dog.

I went to school the next day and told everyone.

Thanks Dad.

2. When my dad was little, he was kidnapped by gypsies (all false, as far as I can tell). His family had just moved into the house that used to belong to the president of Kellogg’s and my dad, at the tender age of 3, was out playing in the front yard. Some gypsies, who were encamped along the river, had planned to kidnap the president of Kellogg’s three-year-old grandson and hold him for ransom.

But of course, they came to the old address, and seeing my dad there, plucked him out of the front yard and took him off to the encampment. They called to demand their money and were met with laughter; the president’s grandson was not even in Battle Creek at the moment.

So, my dad was promptly returned to his family’s front yard, unharmed.

My dad has only on rare occasions acknowledged that this story is untrue, because he once told it to his friend, (also a minister) thinking that this minister would immediately see it for the falsehood it was and get a kick out of it.

But no, the other minister went around central Illinois telling everyone how weird it was that my dad had been kidnapped by gypsies. And my dad thinks this is hilarious, so he’s made no real effort to put a stop to it.

My mom, on the other hand, has never lied to us or told us weird stories. But that doesn’t mean that there’s not one really, really strange and funny story about my mom.

Here goes. My mom’s name is only one letter different than mine and my real name was her nickname in college. It’d be like if her name were Patty, but everyone in college called her Patsy, and then she named me Patsy. My mother and I went to college in the same town. She went to the big state school in town and I went to the little private school. I would often go down to the big state school to parties.

So, my junior year of college, I’m home for Christmas and the phone rings.


Hello, is Patsy Lastname there?

This is.

Hey, this is so-and-so from ISU.

[At this point, I’m a little concerned because I don’t remember any so-and-so from ISU, so, if I’d ever met him I would have had to been very drunk, especially because I would have had to been drunk enough to accidentally give him my parents’ number instead of my number at school. But I’m going to try to play it cool.]

Oh, hey, what are you up to?

Oh, I was just thinking about you and thought I’d look you up. Do you remember that time you rode that horse naked across the quad?

What? I never did any such thing.

What? Isn’t this Patsy Lastname?


Patsy Mom’s-maiden-name?

Oh my god, you mean my mom!

No I don’t. I have the wrong number!

And he hangs up. It was some old buddy of my mom’s. He called back later, but she’s never confirmed nor denied the veracity of the story. I don’t think she actually did it, but my mom is a woman of mystery, so you never know.