I tried to think of a good story about my dad in honor of Father’s Day, but frankly, nothing can top the one about him rollerblading through the neighborhood to egg the lair of my middle school nemesis. So, instead, I’ve come up with a few of my father’s more distinguishing outlooks and explained them a little. I’m using the word “explain” quite loosely.
On supporting our interests
There are four of us, which means my parents have been coaches, strong shoulders, disciplinarians (or not), audiences, chauffeurs, art critics and editors continuously for 27 years. From what I understand, child rearing means blindly supporting your kid’s dreams, even when they are extremely stupid and far-fetched and hilarious. My dad nailed/still nails this.
As a kid, I wanted to be an artist. Rather than handing me a box of crayolas like any normal parent, my dad bought me one of those ridiculously fancy art sets that comes with every color of oil and chalk pastel and like 11 different paintbrushes. Obviously, I destroyed everything in that box because I can’t have nice things, a trait I still shoulder 15 years later. He bought me another.
He approached every one of my interests with the same gusto. When I liked horses, he planned summer trips to Arkansas dude ranches. When I was into theater, he screamed “GO KELLY. GO KELLY.” from the audience, even (especially) during inappropriate scenes. When I was a cheerleader, he told me the same story about being on his college gymnastics team every time I struggled to land a back flip, and then set up blue mats in our front yard so I could practice.
The four of us each have very unique interests and hobbies and lives. And he was like this for everyone. Dad, if you’re reading this, thank you. And sorry about always breaking everything.
On teaching us how to drive
My very first time behind the wheel took place in my mom’s old grey minivan in a big empty parking lot. My second time behind the wheel was on a very busy road in Dallas rush hour. Both times were terrifying for both me and my dad, as well as anyone unfortunate enough to witness my driving lessons/hear his screaming from 15 miles away. The rest of the siblings were given additional lessons on how to drive a manual car, but I was not, as I was and am a lost cause.
On being on time
It won’t happen.
My dad is an extremely nervous traveler, which is only fitting because someone (me) always had to misplace their plane ticket. Next week, we’re going to New Jersey to celebrate my cousin’s Bat Mitzvah. Rather than booking me a flight from Austin to New Jersey and trusting me to find my way to baggage claim, my dad booked his flight from Dallas to Houston and mine from Austin to Houston, so we can meet up at George Bush Intercontinental airport, scramble to find each other, and then fly to Newark together. Not because it’s cheaper, not because it’s more convenient, but because that is just the way Howard Fine wanted to do it and by God “if you don’t think that is the best way to travel then you can just find your own way there.”
Meanwhile, my sister and her boyfriend are flying directly from Austin to Newark three hours after me and landing around the same time.
On automotive care
Is your car making an awful grinding sound? Did the power steering go out? Is the engine refusing to turn over? Did you get a flat tire? It doesn’t even matter what is broken, because every single thing is your fault for forgetting to regularly clean the battery terminals. It is always the battery terminals.
On explaining foreign affairs
The following is a direct quote, transcribed by my little brother, Michael.
“Libya captured some navy ship and held it hostage because they wanted…you normally pay a bribe…you normally…so this guy hikes across the Sahara desert and Libya never expected, you know, a guy to hike… they still have a distinct look from the Egyptians.”
If you’ve ever been to my house, you’ve seen my dad’s massive Swarovski crystal collection. These little crystal figurines live in 3 giant display cases and are regularly rearranged and cleaned. He has started to sell them now, so he set up a little photography studio in the master bathroom to ensure optimal lighting. Each time he makes a sale, he walks around the house with it, saying goodbye. When I still lived at home, every piece was brought into my bedroom so my dad could say “Kelly, I had some really good times with this one.”
Dad, please accept my friend request. I don’t understand why you won’t accept it. I’m not going to embarrass you.
On our dog, Cici.
Cici is his best friend and confidant. While I was used to being called “KristinKatieMichaelDamnit,Kelly,” I was surprised when my name suddenly became “KristinKatieMichaelDamnitCiciKelly,” or, in extreme circumstances, “KristinKatieMichaelDamnitCiciPakaKelly.” Paka is our neighbor’s dog. I wish this was a joke.
Growing up, every single cough or sneeze was followed not by “bless you,” but by “STOP IT.” I still partially expect to hear “STOP IT” any time I have a cold. Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is not an appropriate response to other people’s coughs and sneezes.
My dad has a very particular diet because he has Crohn’s disease, but also because he’s a weirdo. As a kid, I watched in awe as my dad ate an entire half-gallon of ice cream. He used to purchase giant tubs of Gold Medal Ribbon from Baskin-Robbins. Not the prepacked quarts, but literally the giant 3-gallon tubs that they put inside of their display cases and scoop ice cream out of.
After the ice cream phase was the night waffle phase. He would make two Eggo waffles, put any combination of butter, syrup or whipped cream in the middle, and eat it like a sandwich.
Now, he’s moved on to Greek Yogurt. He eats anywhere from 4-10 servings of Chobani daily, both as meal replacements and supplements. Last time I was home, I watched in horror as he mixed strawberry, plain, and coffee-flavored greek yogurt in a big bowl and crumbled a Nature Valley bar into it.
Unfortunately, I have picked up bits of all of these eating habits. I’m working on it.
There are countless other things I could say, but I have a life to live (read: more Doctor Who to re-watch).
TL;DR: Happy father’s day, Howard Fine. I love you. And thank you.