Memories of JJ, 4 — Resemblance

I look a lot like my dad. Every­one tells me that. (At the care home, on the day before he died, one of the admin­is­tra­tors, meet­ing me for the first time, said, “Yeah, you look like him.” With the gal­lows humour I also inher­it­ed from dad, I thought (but did­n’t say) Hope­ful­ly you mean before, because I scarce­ly rec­og­nized him any­more.)

I sound like him, too, and have pret­ty much since my voice quit crack­ing after puber­ty. More than once, when I lived at home (or, lat­er, was vis­it­ing), I’d answer the phone and have some­one call me JJ and ask me if I’d like to go for cof­fee, or if I could grant an exten­sion on a com­put­er sci­ence assign­ment*, or some­thing like that. It always seemed to throw the caller for a loop when I’d say “Uh, hang on,” and give Dad the receiv­er.

The oth­er day, I was wash­ing my hands in the bath­room sink, and I hap­pened to look up at my reflec­tion. Some­thing about the set of my mouth—a lit­tle wry smirk—and the stub­ble of a week’s worth of not shav­ing, com­bined with my eyes under, let’s face it, shag­gy old-man eye­brows, real­ly looked a lot like he used to. Back when he was my dad, not a lost stranger liv­ing in the care home.

I look like him. I sound like him. I car­ry on.

* That only hap­pened once, I think. As tempt­ed as I was to mess with the caller, I hand­ed the phone over to Dad.


My dad passed away recent­ly. I’m going to be post­ing lit­tle mem­o­ries of him for the next lit­tle while. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Posted in JJ.

Memories of JJ, 3 — Keys

Dad

Let’s not talk about how he’d clean his ears with his keys, OK? Let’s just not.

Instead here’s a sto­ry from my days as a high-school stu­dent.

I was one of the nerds* that worked on the year­book. One day, at home, I real­ized I’d for­got­ten some­thing in the year­book office. It was­n’t any­thing of seri­ous consequence—I had­n’t left my French home­work or any­thing like that—but Dad had to go get some­thing from the wood shop, and so I went with him.

Dad had a mas­ter key to the school, because he was the type of per­son that had a mas­ter key to the place where he works. (I asked him one time why that was; he shrugged and told me “Peo­ple trust me” with a lit­tle lop­sided smile.) Once he’d retrieved what he need­ed from the shop, we stopped in next door at the year­book office… where his mas­ter key refused to work.

After a cou­ple min­utes of jig­gling the key and jig­gling the door­knob, he pulled out the key, exam­ined it up close (rais­ing his glass­es up his fore­head to do so), and said, “Huh.”

Then we went back into the shop, where he fired up the met­al grinder nor­mal­ly used to sharp­en chis­els. He filed off a lit­tle bit of his mas­ter key. Sparks flew, briefly.

The new­ly-reshaped key worked, and I was able to retrieve my for­got­ten item.

I spent the next few weeks try­ing to decide if Dad was a lock­smith man­qué or a wiz­ard. (Even­tu­al­ly I real­ized that a wiz­ard prob­a­bly would­n’t clean his ear with a key.)

* Dweebs? Geeks? What­ev­er, we had fun. Name me anoth­er group that got high** on rub­ber-cement fumes on their lunch break.

** Well, gid­dy, at any rate.


My dad passed away recent­ly. I’m going to be post­ing lit­tle mem­o­ries of him for the next lit­tle while. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Memories of JJ, 2 — Solicitors

I was about twelve. Dad was watch­ing the news on CBC. There was a report about pros­ti­tu­tion, and the reporter made the point that, in Cana­da, pros­ti­tu­tion was legal, but solic­it­ing a pros­ti­tute was­n’t. I was old enough that I had a han­dle on what pros­ti­tu­tion was but I was con­fused about solic­i­ta­tion. So I asked Dad.

He explained that solici­ti­a­tion meant, in essence, a pros­ti­tute offer­ing sex for mon­ey.

Oh,” I said. After a moment I asked, “So why do they call him the Solic­i­tor Gen­er­al?”

Dad laughed hard­er than I think I’d ever seen him laugh in his life*. He nev­er did answer my ques­tion.

* One thing I inher­it­ed from Dad is the way he laughed. He would find a lot of things mild­ly fun­ny, enough for a smirk or a smile, but you knew he’d real­ly been tick­led by some­thing if he guf­fawed, loud and usu­al­ly with lit­tle warn­ing.


My dad passed away recent­ly. I’m going to be post­ing lit­tle mem­o­ries of him for the next lit­tle while. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

Posted in JJ.

Memories of JJ, 1 — Ketchup

We went to McDon­ald’s every time we were in the city. Dad did­n’t like the food, but we kids all did. So he would sigh and pull in to the park­ing lot and we’d all cheer from the back seat.

The ketchup pack­ets had just about enough in them for an order of fries. If you real­ly squeezed it out, you could make do with a sin­gle pack­et. Two pack­ets had way too much. Waste not, want not. So I got pret­ty good at squeez­ing every last mol­e­cule of ketchup onto my fries.

On one vis­it to the Gold­en Arch­es, I rolled the ketchup pack­et, start­ing care­ful­ly from one end, mak­ing sure every last drop went onto a fry. Fin­ished, I dis­card­ed the tight­ly-wound tube on the side of the tray. Dad, who had been watch­ing me with­out my real­ly notic­ing, sighed and said, “And yet you can’t do that with the tooth­paste.”

I’m in my for­ties now and I still think of this every time I’m get­ting to the end of a tooth­paste tube. (Or a ketchup pack­et.)


My dad passed away recent­ly. I’m going to be post­ing lit­tle mem­o­ries of him for the next lit­tle while. Don’t say I did­n’t warn you.