My dad is a handsome old geezer named Ed Miller. He lives in the woods in Maine. If the truth be told, he is a bit of a character. There is really no way to describe him, so I won't try. Instead, I will share with you some of his bon mots which over a lifetime have collectively become (what I call) "The Tao of My Dad". If you've ever wondered why I am this way, perhaps this will give you some insight.
Background: I am 9 and it's 1982. I'm telling him all about the Just Say No stuff we learned about in school.
Me: So it's easy because when the bad guys try to give you drugs, you just say no.
Ed Miller: Nancy Reagan is a moron. Here's what you need to know about drugs: stay away from speed.
Background: I have just turned 15 and it's right before my first date with a boy I really like from the church youth group.
Me: Daddy, please don't let the dogs hurl themselves at the door and then growl at him and jump on him and stuff. They're twice as big as he is and my friend Jessy says they look like hell hounds.
Ed Miller: Why should I do that? He needs to know what his very short future will be if you come home pregnant.
Background: I'm a 7 year old second grader and I want to watch a movie.
Me: How about this one?
Ed Miller: You may not watch Lady and The Tramp. Because it's social programming for children. No daughter of mine is going to act like that cocker spaniel when she's a teenager.
Background: I'm 19 and I'm fondly regarding my beautiful 2 year old sister toddle around.
Me: She is so adorable. Was I that cute when I was little?
Ed Miller: No, not really. All the little girls in our family are a cross between Shirley Temple and Stalin.
Background: I'm in 8th grade and I'm making my dad listen to The Smiths in the car. He's not amused.
Me: I love this band so much. The singer of this band, Morissey, says he's celibate. What does that mean?
Ed Miller: It means he doesn't like girls.
Background: I'm 17 and I know everything. I decide to call my father out on a questionable parenting choice.
Me: Why did you always call me "Pigface" all the time when I was growing up? That was kind of mean.
Ed Miller: It wasn't mean. It was deliberate. I didn't want you to be vain.
Background: 6th grade. A local man has opened a fancy new gourmet bakery around the corner from our house in New Jersey.
Me: Can we go in, daddy? Please? It's right here and it's called La Charcuterie.
Ed Miller: La Charcuterie? That guy is from Hoboken. He should call it La Pretenserie.
Background: I'm 30 and I call to tell him that I'm a mother and he's a grandfather. It's a girl!
Me: So, dad... Any words of advice for me?
Ed Miller: Welcome to The Blur. It lasts for ten years and you won't remember anything.
Background: I'm in 8th grade and we're listening to one of my favorite bands, Scritti Politti.
Me: And they're from England. And the singer is soooooo cute and his name is Green! And he's a Marxist. What's a Marxist?
Ed Miller: It means he acts like he hates rich people. Now turn it off.
Background: We're at the WaWa on Nassau Street in Princeton, NJ in 1986, waiting in line to buy my dad's Camels. The man in front of us is providing his thoughtful commentary on the AIDS epidemic to the harassed-looking cashier. His analysis is as follows: "AIDS is a natural response to the Earth's most serious problem. This is natural selection - all the gays are dying so that over-population can be ameliorated. [shrugs smugly] A lot of people don't know that."
Me: [looking at my dad, pretty sure that can't be right] ??
Ed Miller: [in loud, patronizing tone] That idea makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Of every population on Earth, nature has undoubtedly targeted gays. They reproduce in such high numbers.[The entire line at WaWa then partakes in some excessive smirking]
Background: I'm 22 and about to graduate to college. Ed Miller has just a met a boy I was dating who was a big jerk (although very polite to my father).
Me: He's actually kind of a dick, dad. And he makes me feel terrible about myself. I don't want to see him anymore.
Ed Miller: That guy? You let that guy make you feel bad about yourself? Jesus Christ. He's a vegetarian. Who drives a BMW. With leather seats. ::shivers::
Background: I'm in 8th grade and I want a ride to go to my friend's swanky house in her swanky neighborhood.
Me: Daddy, can you drive me to Trina's house? It's right behind Stuart Country Day School. It's kind of far.
Ed Miller: I know that neighborhood. [makes sweeping hand gesture] Beautiful Radon Hills.
Background: Last November, right before the election, we were chatting on the phone.
Me: So dad, who are you going to vote for?
Ed Miller: They're all.... assholes. I just wish I could vote for Putin.
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