Buying a gift for my Dad was always difficult. He never really wanted or needed anything. Most times we, his sons, would get him something that we knew we could steal from him in the near future. Like, maybe, a power tool we knew we would need. Or maybe a sweatshirt that he could add to his 50 other sweatshirts that we could later secretly take from his closet and never return. We called it vict-ing, which was late 80’s slang for stealing.
I don’t know how many times I would see one of my brothers in a nice jacket or pull-over and I would ask, “Where did you get that?” And the response was always, “I vict it from dad?”
Some years we would chip in and get something big. Or some years, depending on what day of the week his birthday fell on, we would all get together at the Philadelphia Park Race Track and give him money for betting the ponies.
One of those days was May 7th either 1994 or 1995. I am not sure which year but it had to be a Saturday or Sunday because most of my brothers were there. I remember it as a day that my dad could not stop laughing.
It is no secret in my family that I get most of my genes and looks from my mom’s side of the family. The rest of my siblings look more like my dad's side. I was always called Rocky’s son, after our mailman Rocco. While we were at the track I was taking some good-natured ribbing from my brother’s about how I was not part of the family. At one point one of my brothers mentioned how my beard made me look like my mom’s brother Buddy.
My dad laughed. “You really do look like your mom’s family.” He said.
“Well that is because of my facial hair.” I said. “And if Pat had a beard he would look like Uncle Tim. And if John had a moustache he would look like any one of mom’s sisters.”
Up until that time, I have never heard my dad laugh as hard as he did right then. His head tilted back and he roared. The entire place turned to see what was causing the commotion. It took him several minutes to recover. And from that moment and for the rest of the day he laughed at everything we said and did.
The conversations eventually changed to other topics, like sports, horses, beer and chicks . We covered the gamut. We laughed at everything. It was not a day of a father hanging out with his sons. For me it was a bunch of guys, equals, friends, hanging out and enjoying the day.
You look like a monkey and you smell like one too.