Here at Casa de Boy, we like to make a big deal out of Father's Day, because our resident father is one of the best. We mix it up every year, but there are always homemade cards, carefully chosen presents and choice cuts of meat. With the emphasis on the meat. We know what Tad likes.
Father's Day is also a day to celebrate grandfathers, and as The Boy's grandfather, my dad is certainly worthy of celebrating. Always waiting with a plate of cookies and a few more random sugary treats stashed close by, it's his lap The Boy clambers into for safe haven when we tell him it's time to leave the grandparents' house. "I just want to live at Baboo and Bobby's house," howls the kid who has never spent a night away from home in his life.
It was my great luck to have The Boy's grandfather for a father; as I've mentioned in the column before, I was a lifetime Weight Watchers member before I started high school, but I enjoyed every Twizzler and M&M that got me there. And I can say with certainty that my dad was only following family tradition, because no one was ever faster to pass you the box of Goldenberg's Peanut Chews than my paternal grandfather, Daddy Fats.
I have a lot of fond memories of my Daddy Fats, and many of them involve food. I remember spending afternoons at Soffee's Market, a squat cinderblock rectangle on Jefferson Davis Highway, marveling at the ripe tomatoes piled high and the smell of the melons stacked on the concrete floor — but it's the candy bars and Brownie chocolate drinks to which we were allowed to help ourselves that are the most vivid.
The family tradition is solid as a rock. I'll bet if you asked any of my dad's grandchildren about him, you would hear about the sweets first. But next you would probably hear about the pranks. You wouldn't know it to look at my dad, because his typical expression is half a notch above morose, but he loves a good joke. You'd be amazed at how fast a guy over 70 can move when the opportunity presents itself to hide somewhere and jump out and scare the grandchildren.
"You should have seen me," he bragged one day when I just missed a great hide. "I laid across the top of the sofa with a blanket over me. They couldn't even tell I was there."
"Are you sure?" I asked dubiously. All of those snacks and treats can make it kind of hard to hide, particularly when you're horizontal. "I think they could probably see you."
"No, because I flattened myself out real good," he insisted proudly.
Daddy Fats loved a good prank, too. It was thanks to his insistence that they were exactly as depicted in the comic books that my brother and I purchased the deluxe starter set of Amazing Live Sea-Monkeys. We sent off our dollar and a quarter and eagerly awaited the arrival of the bouffant-wearing, bespectacled creatures who, according to Daddy Fats, would clean our rooms, run to the store for us and generally serve as faithful gilled companions.
Have you ever met a Sea-Monkey in person? They look like dust specks. Pale, fishy-smelling dust specks. I can still see Daddy Fats' face, barely able to conceal a grin as we showed him our Sea Monkey Village. It's the same look I saw on my dad's face when he bought himself a massive box of assorted Transformers for Christmas and insisted that he wasn't sharing them with anybody.
Tad isn't a Soffee by birth, but I don't doubt that he will carry on the legacy. "He doesn't know it yet, but he really hit the jackpot in the embarrassing dad lottery," Tad bragged the other day when The Boy begged him for the fifth time to stop performing his trademark Happy Sunday Morning Underwear Dance. "Just wait until he's a teenager." And then he handed The Boy two cookies. "What? He needs one for each hand," he protested when I gave him the eyeball.
Another generation, right on schedule. Happy Father's Day.