My dad — to me, known as Papa, Pops, or Ted — is the best. He’s goofy and nice and giving and caring and in short, just an all around standup guy that I couldn’t imagine not having in my life. I have him to thank for some of my best qualities (like my bangin’ sense of humor)….and some of my worst (hello, restless leg syndrome). So today, in honor of Father’s Day and my pops, I present nine things I love love love about my dad.
9. He never missed a game. Throughout high school, all of us — my brother, my sister, and I — played sports, which means we had games several times a week after school. If I remember correctly, most of these games started before 5 p.m.. Yet, despite my dad’s nearly 1.5-hour long commute, he always managed to make it to the field/gym not only in time for the first pitch, serve, or what have you, but often also in time to give us a pre-game pep talk, wish us good luck, etc.
More than being our (very manly) cheerleader however, he was also a great and very committed coach — both officially and unofficially, as he coached both my and my sisters’ softball teams, and spent an unimaginable number of weekday evenings and weekend afternoons playing catch with us, taking us to the batting cages, researching softball pitching techniques, and so on and so forth. Sure, not all of these memories are “good”…like most high schoolers and their parents, we fought at least once a week (if not more). But, when I think back on it, it’s all a haze of overwhelmingly happy memories. Thankful memories. Thankful that he cared enough about us (or maybe about winning) to devote so much of his free time to helping us get better — and for being patient even when we weren’t very good (ahem, I’m talking specifically about me. I’m not particularly coordinated).
8. “When Ted yells, it’s just funny.” This is a direct quote from one of my sisters’ softball teammates, explaining how Ted is the nice coach — the one who can’t, no matter what, actually get angry. For whatever reason, this quote has stuck with me for a good 15 years because it’s just so darn true. Don’t get me wrong, as his daughter, I’ll testify that of course he can get angry. I was pulled by my ear a number of times, locked in the basement (with spiders!) as a punishment, and yelled at for general insolence on several occasions. But, I can count on two hands the number of times he’s gotten seriously scarily angry, and on one hand the number of times he’s really held a grudge. Sure, he jokingly pouts every now and again, but he’s a big proponent of never going to bed angry — which is something I both look up to and try to live up to.
I think this easy going, laid-back, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants attitude is a real testament to the type of person he is. He’s lighthearted and funny, and I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. He’s just a good guy, and that’s not just coming from me, his kid. It’s something several of my friends who have met Ted — the man the legend — have said. The way I see it, there are a few kinds of people in the world — pessimists, realists, and optimists. My dad swims through a bucket of optimism, popping his head to the surface often enough to yell words of encouragement to whoever is asking for it. It’s one of is best qualities, in my opinion, and one of the qualities I’m thankful he’s passed on to me. Life is too short to live in a world dark with negativity, and I’m glad that I had him around to preach that. Preach man. Preach.
7. He always bought us a “surprise.” It’s no secret that I have a serious love affair with candy. It’s honestly my one true love in this world (sorry, Tristan). I just can’t get enough of the stuff, and it’s all thanks to him (at least, this is Tristan’s theory). You see, when I was little, my dad would bring home a “surprise” for me several times per week…a surprise being a Hershey bar, M&Ms, Peppermint Pattie, or my favorite at the time, a Nutrageous. So you see, my fond childhood memories are directly tied to candy — hence, my lifetime struggle with addiction. But, getting “a surprise” is a sweet (pun!) memory. A sweet memory indeed.
6. Without him, I’d probably weigh 200 pounds. Since he was, oh I don’t know, 20 years old, my dad has had an obsessive compulsive need to exercise. The man follows strict a routine — incorporating strength training, running, and the ingestion of awful-smelling “green stuff” — and he does not, will not sway from it. I wish I could say I was that disciplined, but alas, here I am, belly full of pie and chocolate. That said though, the man is still 100 percent responsible for my fairly active lifestyle — I’ve been known to run occasionally, and last year, I even ran a half-marathon! And it’s pretty much all thanks to him. Had he not encouraged me to run my whole life, shamed me for not being able to finish 3 miles (jokingly, of course), I would probably never ever workout. More than running though, he’s also always willing to be a personal trainer of sorts, ready to give me solid advice on lifting weights, hooking me up with a badass gym membership ($52 a YEAR), and encouraging me — and the rest of the Doukas clan — to exercise exercise exercise, because it’s not only good for the body, but good for the mind and good for the sould. Damn. This just got really cheesy. But it’s all true!
5. He was, is, and will always be a goofy guy. “Ahhh-ooooh,” “eeee eeee eeee,” and “gakadjgakl;gja;gja;gj” are noises that ring through the hallways of the Doukas home. When my dad walks beneath an L track, he screams at the top of his lungs, convinced no one can hear him (spoiler alert: they can). You can count on him to make everything and anything into a joke, and I’m pretty sure he invented 99 percent of the dad jokes out there (“Hi hungry, I’m Ted,” etc.). My dad is kind of like Dos Equis’ The Most Interesting Man in the World, except instead of a beard he has a twinkle in his eye and instead of thriving on mystery and adventure he feeds off goofy jokes and ridiculous noises — both of which I and my dear mother have also started making, much to the chagrin of the rest of the family.
4. He keeps things interesting. Growing up, the four of us used to play this game called Werewolf. The rules were basically this: my dad would start coughing, claim to have fur on his tongue, and then suddenly, “ahhhh-oooooooooh!” He’d turn into a werewolf. At the very first hint of these symptoms, my brother, sister, and I would seek safety on our living room couch (otherwise known as homebase). If we chose to leave the couch, the Werewolf could grab us and hold us prisoner. A free child could save a POW by tagging his/her hand — a dangerous mission though, as the werewolf was sneaky and quick and always saw us coming.
I can’t really remember how or when each game would end, and I’m pretty sure there was no way for us to actually “win” against the werewolf, but this nonetheless was a hoot to play. And cheese and rice if isn’t my favorite childhood pastime. But it wasn’t the only one. No, there’s the Christmas morning scavenger hunts, the infamous Ted dances (which I just witnessed a few minutes ago…and it was glorious as ever), leaving me — a seven year-old dressed in her Sunday best — at a gas station on Easter morning, howling like a wolf down the watersides at Wisconsin Dells, tales about how he once bit a kid on the neck, and the list goes and on and on. Ted always has a story to tell — sometimes made up, sometimes not — and always something interesting (and only occasionally offensive) to say. The man’s a hoot.
3. He’s creative and clever, and taught us to be the same. I’m going to be honest here and say I was a very gifted child — and I mean that in the most literal sense. I was not ~gifted~ with X-Men powers or super smarts, but literally gifted with gifts. Christmas on the Doukas manor was bomb. Presents and candy galore, all sweetened by Ted’s infamous scavenger hunts. After we opened a pile of presents, pops would hand over a cleverly worded clue for the three of us to read aloud. The answer to the clue would, of course, lead us to a different spot in the house, where a second clue would live (you guys know how clues work right?), and so on and so forth until we’d get to our last present. Some years, it would be another present for each of us, and some it would be one huge present for all (our pool table I believe lived at the end of the magical scavenger hunt rainbow).
My point to all of this though, is that my dad is one clever guy. I’m not saying I’m clever (okay, yes I am), but this is one of my favorite traits — and one of my favorite memories — he passed on to me.
2. We’re disgusting, obnoxious buddies. For as long as I can remember, I’d always always always accompany my dad on his weekend errands, whether to the grocery store, the hardware store, the jerk store etc. When I think of my dad, I often think of these trips and all of the good times we had (and still have) in the car, just me and him, gossiping about the rest of the family and listening to (and for me, learning about) music. Sorry siblings, but I can say with complete honestly that this was some solid father-daughter bonding time that y’all missed out on. And even though I’m not home as often anymore, I love that the two of us still have a weird bond, wherein we both make odd noises, burp obnoxiously loud, and generally just piss off the rest of the family. It’s most excellent.
1. He’s given me a tub-full of good memories. In case this lengthy post isn’t proof enough, my dad has given me a lifetime of just grand memories. And when it comes down to it, that’s probably what I love about him the most. Just a fun dude, showing his kids a fun time.