Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lessons from my Father

I am six years old, and I really, really have to pee.  I have just been playing with my sister and our dad, building a rad blanket fort out of a My Little Pony sleeping bag and the orange and blue Playskool slide, the kind that makes your hair stand on end with static electricity if you are in a 5 foot radius.  Holding my legs together, I run up the stairs to the bathroom.  The toilet is wedged in a little corner, right next to the bathtub.  I can easily see the shower curtain in the mirror over the sink. I wriggle out of my pants and sit down, when all of a sudden... "ROAR!"  My dad flings open the shower curtain, jumps out the bathroom, and quite literally scares the piss out of me.

It's not the first time, nor will it be the last.  At least he wasn't wearing the green Halloween mask.

This is the most important lesson I learned from my father: Expect the unexpected.  Monsters jump out the shadows, and you have to be prepared.  Some may argue that he made me a paranoid person, but I choose to use the word 'cautious'.  I check behind the shower curtain before dropping trou, peek into the backseat of my car before I unlock the door, and I prefer to sit facing a door at a restaurant.  Nothing can surprise you if you're looking for it.

Was this my dad’s intention?  To make me a cautious person?  To keep me out of danger?  No, probably not.  I think he really just liked to scare the pants off me and my little sister.  But, now that I look for that “ROAR” to come at me, out of nowhere, I can forgive the emotional scarring and night terrors because I know I’m a safer person.  I’ve never been mugged, attacked, or even in a bad car accident, and I really do think it’s because I’m constantly on the look-out for danger.

Don’t think I’m an overcautious recluse, though.  I take chances, and have adventures.  I’m no Evil Kenevil , but I don’t let fear stop me from doing something I really want to do.  I’ve been rock climbing, eaten sushi, and have sung in front of one thousand people.  I was nervous, but I did it.  Those are the kind of risks people should take in their life.  Walking down a dark alley wearing your best jewelry?  Not so much.

Thanks to my dad’s sadistic sense of humor, I learned a very important lesson: Expect the unexpected…and always check behind the shower curtain.