With each year that passes, I am aware that I am slowly becoming my father.
It was something I never realized before I got older. They always said it would happen. They didnít explain it well, though.
When they say, "Youíre going to be old one day, boy," they didnít explain, "Youíre going to be old like your ma and pa one day, boy."
It occurred to me when I saw myself on television fishing in Montana, and I talked to every trout I caught. "Címere, little fella, come on, itís okay," or whatever. My father did that. Heíd talk to every fish he caught. Thatís when I started suspecting I had begun to become my father. I do the same thing, without even realizing it.
Itís not so much an individual characteristic thing, though that is part of it. When I started wearing khaki pants and losing my hair, I looked in the mirror and thought, "Thereís Nick." My dad wore khakis and lost most of his hair by his late 20s, early 30s. My dad never wore jeans.
More so in his day than in mine, jeans were the mark of a poor person. Dad grew up poor, so he never wore jeans as an adult. I grew up mostly in that same mindset, until my late teens, I guess, when jeans suddenly became chic and the price went into orbit.
Today, it bugs the bejeezus out of me to pay $40 for a pair of jeans, and thatís low for some. I quit doing it after awhile and opted for $15 models, realizing that I wasnít out to impress anyone. Thatís $25 difference I could spend on fly fishing gear. My father would not have given you two bits for any pair of jeans.
The other thing is pickup trucks. In my fatherís day, only farmers and working men of other trades drove trucks. Trucks were rough-and-tough, dependable vehicles that suited a certain lifestyle. They were expected to get bruised and battered, scratched and dented, and they almost always had a shotgun or rifle on a rack in the back window. They did not come with power windows, CD sound systems and dang sure didnít cost $40,000. Trucks in my dadís day had manual cranks on the windows (heck, mine still does!) huge dashboards that always got dust inside the gauges somehow and you could never get it out, and if you were lucky, an air-conditioner, which marked you as a higher-end skilled laborer. If you had a radio with more than AM band, you were uptown Saturday night.
I hate modern music about as much as my father hated rock Ďn roll. My father used to complain bitterly about "all that damn noise" coming from my room, referring to strains of Steely Dan and Lynyrd Skynyrd from the stereo they bought me for Christmas. I now complain bitterly about bands called Bone Thugs-N-Harmony making albums called "Creepin OnaAh Come Upís." I donít get rap, I donít get grunge and I certainly donít get where they come off calling all this music.
I resisted and rebelled against my fatherís taste in music, of course. Most of us did that. I still donít particularly care for modern country, and in that regard, I realize Iíve become like my father, who didnít like it much, either, with the exception of Willie Nelson, who really isnít that modern anymore. He preferred older country, to which I used to pretend to gag over to demonstrate my disgust. Lately, however, I ordered a couple of Hank Williams Sr., collections and a Willie Nelson Greatest Hits. My heroes may not have always been cowboys, but the Indians always liked Willie and vice-versa.
My girl and I were watching television one night and this commercial came on with this androgynous creature kinda swaying and gyrating, and I figured it was a girl but my girl figured it was a guy, and so we both kinda figured it was just beyond our capacity to understand this entity singing, "I can give you what you want!" But by the end of the commercial neither one of us knew what the heck they were trying to sell us, much less what we wanted, other than the remote to change the channel quickly.
That happens a lot these days. We see commercials and either canít figure out what it is they want us to buy, or canít figure out how in the dickens the content of the commercial is related to the product theyíre trying to sell. Worst of all is car commercials. They start off seeming to be something else entirely, get your interest piqued, and then itís about a Kia.
Makes me feel wimpy, though, when I think about what my parents saw in their lifetimes. When they were born, trans-Atlantic travel was just a dream, and landing on the moon? Insane. Talking movies were in their infant stages, and the notion of breaking the sound barrier silly. The changes Iíve seen in my lifetime seen minor in comparison, but I always think of my father when they happen, and how like him Iíve become.
Vonage commercials, the telephone ones, make me ill. What does a man dancing in the background in his underwear or a guy in a chicken suit trying to get through a revolving door have to do with telephone service? Beats me.
Dad used to talk to the television, too. When, for instance, a cop would shoot a bad guy, Dad would say something to the effect of, "Bam! Good night Irene!" though I donít know where in the world that came from. If someone found a corpse in a detective show heíd say, "Yup! Stone-cold dead in the market, maíam," and I certainly donít get that one, either. Dad called movies like that "shoot-Ďem-ups" and thatís about as good a name as I was ever able to come up with for them. I catch myself talking to the television, too, criticizing the plots, snarling at the directing and you donít even want to know what I say to some of the so-called news anchors out there.
But itís really odd that, for a man I thought was so stupid when I was 16, how smart I realize he was now that Iím 42. One of his favorite jests to me was, "Dang, boy, I taught you everything I know and you still donít know nothing!"
Sometime in my 20s it occurred to me, and I said, "But pop, doesnít that mean you donít know nothing?"
He put out his hand and shook mine.
"íBout time," he said with a grin.