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A father and son's love knows no boundaries. Four letter words yes, boundaries no.
on May 5, 2010
Reading Justin Halpern's book brought back memories of my own father's words of wisdom. Although my father (a southern gentleman by birth) was somewhat more prudent in his use of curse words and references to sex, he never hesitated in telling his children (or anyone else for that matter) exactly what was on his mind. I remember when I introduced him to my first really serious girlfriend, a young woman who was more than a foot shorter than myself. He took me aside and said, "What's the matter, didn't they have one in your size?" However, when we later announced our engagement he was the first to congratulate us and brought out the bottle of Cold Duck that he was saving for such an occasion.
When the author was 28 years old he was suddenly dumped by his girlfriend and needed a place to live when he made the decision to move back in with his mother and his then retired father. Working from his new "home" as a writer for Maxim Magazine gave him the time (an awful lot of time according to the author) to see his father through new, adult eyes. The terror that he had felt in his youth due to his father's "bluntness" began to be replaced by admiration for the only person that he had ever known who really spoke his mind without self-censorship. It was only then that he began to see the wisdom in his father's tersely worded observations and began posting them on his Twitter page with the same title as this book.
Because Mr. Halpern Sr. has the gift of being able to "swear with great expertise" I can't quote many of them on Amazon, but here are a few of my favorite PG rated quips:
ON THE DEATH OF OUR FIRST DOG
He was a good dog. Your brother is pretty broken up about it, so go easy on him. He had a nice last moment with Brownie before the vet tossed him in the garbage.
ON MY BLOODY NOSE
What happened? Did somebody punch you in the face?!... The what? The air is dry? Do me a favor and tell people you got punched in the face.
ON THE MEDICINAL EFFECT OF BACON
You worry too much. Eat some bacon... What? No, I got no idea if it'll make you feel better, I just made too much bacon.
ON SHOPPING FOR PRESENTS FOR HIS BIRTHDAY
If it's not bourbon or sweatpants, it's going in the garbage... No, don't get creative. Now is not a creative time. Now is a bourbon and sweatpants time.
ON BEING ONE WITH THE WILDERNESS
I'm not sure you can call that roughing it son... Well, for one, there was a (EXPLETIVE) minivan parked forty feet from your sleeping bags.
I just want silence... Jesus, it doesn't mean I don't like you. It just means right now, I like silence more.
If you grew up with a Ward Cleaver type of father (or wish that you did) you may find Mr. Halpern's way of expressing himself to be crude, unfeeling, or even uncaring. Far from it. The author augments the pithy quotes (some recent, other's from his childhood) with brief essays that gives the reader a little more of the back story of this unique father-and-son relationship. Is it ideal? I have learned that, for me at least, the best way to judge someone's parenting is by the adult it produces. Justin Halpern's book reads to me as a love letter to a father that always tells it like it is and who made you who you are.
My father passed away at age 87 in 2008. At his wake (we are Irish after all so alcohol was involved) his former co-workers, friends and family paid tribute to him by telling our own little stories and quotes from a man who could be described as both taciturn and brutally honest. The recollections from my three brothers, my sons and myself included stories and things that my dad said that to the outside observer might have also seemed acerbic or even caustic, but to us it was the way that he showed us that he cared
This book is not for those addicted to a PC idea of what a father should be or for those who are easily offended by real life conversation. But if you, like me, value frank and seemingly brutal honesty (especially from someone who brought you into this world) this book will delight you as much as it has me. I only wish that I could give this to my dad for Father's Day. He would have laughed his (BLEEP) off!