And, most importantly, did you celebrate? I did everything except for the Dad-calling part because when I finally got around to celebrating it was after ten o’clock and he gets up at 4:30 in the morning because he’s insane.
I made a root beer float. Here are instructions. I know you know how to make one, but you’d be surprised what other people don’t know. I continue to be surprised by that.
Root beer floats will forever be inextricably linked to dads. Particularly my dad, but I suppose you could replace my dad with your dad if you’re remembering, but if you want to remember my dad as an integral part of your childhood, I wouldn’t think anything of it.
There are a few things that I remember for their Dad-specificity – Cheez Whiz and marmalade sandwiches, long john doughnuts, Get Smart, sitting in front of my bedroom door to think about what I’d done while everyone else watched Star Trek … things that I’ve mentally filed next to “Parents > Dad” in my memory-bank, like that time I ordered kalamari at the Knight & Day on King George Highway on my twelfth birthday and I didn’t realize it was going to come out looking like spiders because I really didn’t know for sure what kalamari was at that point, or what a squid looked like, and I looked up with panicky eyes and my mom was all, “you don’t have to eat that,” but my dad made me eat it anyway because Knight & Day was even overpriced then, so I ate the spiders and tried to wash it all down with Orange Crush but then I got this gross feeling and threw up all over myself, and then I think my dad was going to make me eat the spiders that didn’t get covered in Crush-puke, but my mom was all, “it’s her birthday,” so I didn’t have to finish. My dad starts a lot of his stories with, “nobody else thought I was funny, but I laughed, and laughed, and laughed.”
Which is how I start a lot of my stories, actually.
Which I think means that my dad is hilarious.
He once ran for president of his union just to annoy the president, who ran every year unchallenged, and who had gotten just a tad too comfortable. He almost won. He would have had to move to Ottawa.
My dad is hilarious.
Dad didn’t just make me puke on myself, though. He made some good things, too. Like apple fritters, which were chunks of apple dipped in batter, then deep fried, and then sprinkled with powdered sugar. And bread, without a bread machine. He’d make the dough, and I wouldn’t be paying all that much attention, and then he’d stuff it in a huge, cleaned-out can, and then all of a sudden the house would smell like fresh bread and it was glorious, all yeasty and warm-smelling, and when it came out of the oven, it looked like a giant, super-tall muffin and he’d pop it out of the can and slice it up and we’d get to eat it with jam that my grandma had probably made and it was the best bread I’d ever had. I’ve never seen cans big enough to re-create his makeshift bread pans, and I’ve always kept my eye half-peeled. I bet when I find them, Nick and I will have to eat our way through a lot of baked beans.
Root beer always reminds me of Dad. The A&W kind, specifically, even though there are better root beers, and I can’t remember which parent introduced Henry Weinhardt’s into my life. But it’s A&W root beer when I think about floats, because that’s what we had (though sometimes we had floats with Orange Crush, or cream soda, and those were also quite good). That, and ice cream that comes in brick-form, or in those big buckets. I didn’t think ice cream came in either anymore. They do. And this was a very satisfying rediscovery.
You can make root beer floats fancy, but that’s not the point. There are some things that you have to think about as if you were eight years old, and they should never, ever change, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Change sometimes equals bastardization (see TMNT), and to bastardize the root beer float would be unholy. It gets its own day. Like Christmas. And Father’s Day.
If you didn’t celebrate, it’s not too late. Just grab a brick of ice cream and a bottle of root beer, pour yourself a float, and call my dad.