You: Bye Dad. Happy New Year’s.
Dad: You too—see you next year!
On New Year’s Eve, the clock strikes midnight and suddenly it’s a different year. Maybe someday you’ll realize that’s what it’s been like for your dad watching you grow up. He blinks and you’re in junior high; he turns away for a second only to find you’re moving into your freshman dorm. It feels just yesterday you were a baby and he could hold you in his arms. Your mother was with him then, but now that she’s gone and married to Richard, what can he do but laugh?
You: Dad, I’m thinking of studying abroad.
Dad: Well, I hope you take the broad out for dinner before you study her.
He realizes he should have taken your mother out on the town more. They spent too many nights sitting at the dinner table together, both so lonely. He would have done something if he knew how badly it would hurt to see her with another man. A powerful dean named Richard who treats her like a Queen, while he grades another set of papers as a lowly adjunct professor. He doesn’t want you to make the same mistakes he did. Your dad is not strong enough to say these things directly, but maybe you’ll find a kernel of wisdom in his hilarious jokes.
You: Dad, I’m hungry.
Dad: Hi Hungry, I’m Dad.
When your mom got custody he felt so powerless. He is a man. He needs to provide for his family, dammit. So yes, that tear in his eye isn’t from laughing at that witty play on words. He gets emotional just slapping down some PB and J so you two can catch up for a few minutes. Does Richard ever do that for you? Of course he doesn’t. He cares more about fundraisers and school rankings than his own wife’s children! Why can’t your mother see that? Why can’t she see that your dad is waiting for her? He’ll always be waiting for her.
You: Dad, you should get a haircut.
Dad: I usually like to get them all cut.
This one is funny because it sounds like you want him to get only one of his hairs cut. How crazy would that be?