Growing up, my brother was really good looking…shoot, he’s still really good looking. When I was a teenager, this was a special form of torture. I can’t even remember all of the girls that would do everything they could to get close to my brother. I even had a few of my “friends” get closer to me…to get closer to him.
I can remember melting like a puddle in front of my parents, wondering why the universe was so cruel. My mom, completely broken on the inside, would emotionally scoop me up and begin to explain that a person is so much more than first impressions; and if a girl was worth it, she would see how amazingly handsome and beautiful I was from the inside out. My dad, looking in on this hot mess quipped, “well, you are kinda funny looking.”
I live a pretty blessed life. Regardless of my apparent flaws, God pared me with an incredible woman, who is well outside of my pay grade. We have fantastic, talented, and bright kids. I managed to fight my way through college and I have a career and job that I really enjoy. My highlight reel (ignoring all the real moments…of course) gives people the impression that I’m a pretty decent guy. If people would give me a few minutes, I could clarify all of these misconceptions and help them see what real selfishness, pride, and laziness looks like. However, with a huge asterisk that links to the Urban Slang definition of “douche bag” I will accept that I turned out ok. As if this were an acceptance speech, I have so many people who get partial credit for various positive attributes that somehow stuck, but I want to focus on the council of my dad.
Most of my earliest memories with my dad are at four miles per hour. He followed his dad in one of the most noble of professions, farming. Spending time with someone at this speed grows a relationship in ways that Disneyland and motorbikes never will. At this very formative time in my life, we began talking about everything from how the world works, politics (he was a Reagan fan at this age), the business of farming, and relationships. This time together established a very good baseline for our friendship that is a mainstay in my life. Today, if I were to swing in to his place, he’ll think up something that needs to be looked at, and we’ll head out. As we roll along the end of field, literally watching the grass grow, we visit the same ol’ topics of politics, business and relationships. Once again, at about four miles per hour, we build on something that has been there my whole life.
When I hit thirteen my knees were the widest part of my legs. I had grown about twelve inches in so many months, and awkward would be the kindest way to describe my athleticism. I decided that I wanted to take the next year off of basketball and concentrate on…being more nerdy. My brother, the dripping hot stallion I referenced above, was at the peak of his high school career. My dad, who never wavered in full commitment to any pursuit we might choose, would go to every single game, regardless of the distance. I was just planning on sitting at home thinking about trigonometry and the girls that didn’t notice me, so I almost always went along. Funny thing; I didn’t really enjoy watching the game. After a thousand hours on a wood plank of maximum discomfort, eating scorched nachos, and wondering why every gym had nearly the same smell, I had lost most of my interest in the actual game. However, when I went, it meant that I got to have my dad to myself. After the game, we usually grabbed dinner, and then would head home in the dark. Forget the fact we were dedicating half a day to celebrate the superior breeding and aesthetics of my brother; I was the ultimate winner. As we rolled through the night, I would get to bounce all of my ideas, fears, and dreams off of a man who truly loved me.
Now, as I crest over the immature hill called my formative years and settle into middle life, I have kids of my own. I didn’t think much about it, until I started to write this article, but they are always begging me to ride along. I need to make sure that I don’t miss something extremely valuable that my dad so freely gave to me. Just this morning, as I headed out, my oldest jumped up and said, “dad, can I ride with you?”