***Language and Content Warning***
Before I begin this post I’d just like to send a big “thank you” to Mark Zuckerberg for creating Facebook. As some of you know, I’m notoriously terrible at remembering dates (just one example: I have to be reminded about my mom’s birthday every year) and I probably would have missed Fathers Day altogether if my friends hadn’t started posting pics of their dads. You’re a lifesaver, Mark.
That said, let me tell you a little bit about my old man.
For those who don’t already know, my dad, Thomas Joseph Wiltz, has been a Cajun humorist for the past 25 years. (His stage name is Tommy Joe Breaux.) Among other things, he’s performed on TNN, worked as a personality for countless radio stations, recorded a bestselling audiobook (The Cajun Night Before Christmas), and published two collections of his stories.
As a result, people in my hometown often have a tendency to refer to me as “Tommy Joe’s son.” And when they find out that I have a decent sense of humor, they invariably say, “Well, you know who he gets that from!” I’ve always put up a little bit of a fight about that, mainly because my personality is actually a lot more like my mom’s than my dad’s (one of many reasons why I’m her hands-down favorite). But make no mistake – the man is a character. Here now is a list of 10 thoughts of him that I take with me wherever I go.
10 Thoughts of My Dad That I Take With Me Wherever I Go
(1) For as long as I can remember, my dad has always told me how important it is to have a well-developed sense of pride and dignity. During one talk on this subject, it occurred to me that he was wearing an Andy Griffith t-shirt that said “Just Calm Down, Floyd” and a pair of Santa Claus boxer shorts (it was July). Put all that together – pride, dignity, Santa Claus boxer shorts in July – and you’ll understand why I started laughing.
(2) My parents were never overly strict when I was growing up, but they always made sure that I was never exposed to too much bad language. I wasn’t allowed, for instance, to watch any movies with the dreaded “F word” in them. This of course never made sense to me…because I was allowed to be home when my dad was watching football. Believe me, if you’d heard some of the stuff he yelled at the TV back then, that rule wouldn’t make sense to you either. 🙂
(3) Sometimes when my dad was watching football, he’d try to jinx the opposing team by doing what he called “the Mawinky Dance.” This consisted of him putting a pair of boxer shorts on his head and jumping in a square while chanting “Mawinky! Mawinky! Mawinky!” I know what you’re thinking, and yes, the Mawinky Dance has come up in several sessions with my psychiatrist. :b
(4) My mother is a woman of many talents, but the ability to keep a plant alive is unfortunately not one of them. My dad has had countless hours of fun at her expense about this. Once when I was little, he made me and my older sister stand around my mom’s new plant and hum “Taps.” (I made the mistake of mentioning this in front of a packed Cub Scout meeting a few weeks later. It embarrassed my mom to no end and earned me a nice long ass-chewing from my dad later that night.)
(5) When I was in high school my mom found a porn tape that a friend and I had been watching (a funny story in and of itself). Naturally, she sent me out on the back patio with my dad so he could lecture me about it. He tried his best to be a parent – “it’s not good to watch stuff like that;” “I don’t want that filth in my house;” etc. – but in the end he shook his head and said what he was really thinking: “Look, the main thing is, don’t keep that shit where your mom’s gonna find it!”
(6) Breakfast always sucked when my mom was out of town. Why? Because my dad was a big-time supporter of bargain-brand cereal. It never failed. He’d take us to the grocery store and the following dialogue would ensue:
Dad: Alright, what kind of cereal do you want?
Me: (excitedly) Rice Krispies!
Dad: Okay. How much are the Rice Krispies? (He takes the box from me and looks at the price.) $3.85?! God damn. For this little bitty ole box?
Me: Rice Krispies!
Dad: (thoughtfully) Well, J, for the same price we could get one box of these Rice Krispies, we can get four boxes of this Crisp Rice over here. (He holds up a box of generic cereal with a friendly looking squirrel on the front.)
Dad: This is the same thing. All you’re paying for with the Rice Krispies is the name. But on the inside, it’s the same thing. You won’t even be able to tell the difference!
I often tell him how this will all come back to haunt him someday. He’ll be in some run-down hellhole of a nursing home, complaining to me about how he has runny bedsores and rats in his room, and I’ll say, “I understand that, Dad. But, for the same price we could put you in a good nursing home for one year…”
(7) One Saturday morning when I was a kid I was watching cartoons in the living room while my dad drifted in and out of a heavy sleep over in his chair. At the time, Huggies was running commercials for their new brand of Pull-Ups diapers, and my dad happened to wake up just as the kid in the voiceover was singing, “Mommy, wow! I’m a big kid now!”
Still groggy with sleep, he looked at the TV and announced, “Yeah. I bet you smell like a big kid.” Then he passed out and went back to sleep. I can never walk down a diaper aisle without thinking and laughing about that.
(8) When Braveheart first came out, my dad took me and my friend Dane to go see it. He then proceeded to laugh so hard and so convulsively at the scene where Longshanks throws Philip out of the window that the entire theater missed the next five minutes of the movie. (Dane actually thought he was having some kind of medical issue.)
On the way home I reminded him about it and he had to pull the car over to the side of the road while he laughed for another five or ten minutes.
(9) My dad has always been a charitable person – he helps out with the MS Gulf Coast Multiple Sclerosis Society, toy runs for needy children, various church charities, etc. – but I have to be honest with you: anonymous charity has never really been his thing. I get the biggest kick out of watching old Christmas videos and listening to his running commentary behind the camera. Needless to say, he was never really comfortable with the idea of letting a fictional old man with a team of flying reindeer take all the credit for our Christmas cheer. “Boy, that Santa sure is something, ain’t he? That old man got you some good toys! Man, he is really something else! I bet you want to say ‘thank you’ to him, don’t you? Look at the camera and say, ‘Thank you, Santa!’ DO IT!”
(10) Shortly after I first arrived in Korea, my dad sent me an e-mail with the following piece of fatherly advice:
We watched a show called Taboo, the 1st segment was on Korea filmed at a restaurant in Seoul and showed how they ate octopus LIVE & RAW and how the suckers on their legs will stick to your cheeks, tongue and even to the sides of the throat to fight from being swallowed. Some people have even choked to death eating that nasty shit…We don’t want a “J died trying to swallow a fucking octopus and choked to death” call so stay away from that shit.
Nice to know he’s always looking out for me.
Love you, Dad. Happy Fathers Day. 🙂