My dad turned 83 years of age last January. He’s not done much traveling outside the United States in his life, but he does like to point out he was born in Paris and has spent time in London.
That’s Paris, Arkansas. And yes, London, Arkansas.
Oh, and did I say he likes telling a joke every now and then? Even if it’s along the lines of the Paris/London quip, if it causes someone to crack a smile or raise an eyebrow it’s accomplished its mission.
Dad jokes, they’re called, and in my humble opinion there’s nothing like them.
Some people believe there’s nothing like a good joke and, after hearing mine, they’re quick to affirm mine are nothing like a good joke.
Dad jokes are corny — the cornier the better. So corny, in fact, that sometimes they’ve got ears growing on them.
As a father of two kids, one in his early 20s and the other in her late teens, I’ve had many years to perfect the art of the dad joke. If my kids have heard one, they’ve heard a thousand. Usually it’s the same one told a thousand times, but that’s proper dad joke protocol, too.
Someone said they stepped on a rusty nail? I’m quick to point out I think I went to school with a Rusty Nail. I can now get only two words into that one when one of my kids will usually stop me with a quick, “No, dad.”
But that’s ok. It’s the thought of the joke that counts, right?
I don’t know why us dads get such enjoyment in telling our jokes, like the one where the two guys are walking down the sidewalk, one walks into a bar and the other ducks.
Classic. Solid. Timeless.
I don’t know what it is about the dad jokes, but what I do know is that, as a dad, these jokes are something I have to tell. It’s part of the dad persona, the dad DNA.
Which makes it hereditary.
During a recent holiday gathering I was eating in one of two rooms crowded with friends and family and my dad was in the other. Before I knew it, I could hear from the other room my dad retelling the familiar story of a funeral procession held in the dead of an icy, cold winter in a nearby town. Probably Paris. Or London. The pallbearers slipped on the ice, thus dropping the casket, which slid down the ice-covered sidewalk and through the front door of the pharmacy located across the street.
When the casket hit the pharmacy counter, the lid popped open and the body sat up and asked the pharmacist, “Got anything to stop this coffin?”
Ageless. And definitely one of my favorites. Apparently it’s one of my dad’s favorites, too. A solid, go-to dad joke.
My dad has tried to pass a lot of good dad traits down to me over the years. Our family roots are traced back to a solid, hard-working German heritage — you don’t get a name like Holzman and not know things like when you pull up an old bush you shake out the roots to save every bit of soil you can.
Which brings me to the green thumb he inherited from him mom, whose yard was a force to be reckoned with every year when Clarksville’s newspaper held its summer yard of the month contests. Yes, my dad can stick a twig into the ground and in no time it’s blossomed into a beautiful flower.
Actually I missed out on that one. My attempts at any kind of yard of the month honors have usually settled down to the contentment of a mowed lawn.
But because of my dad I do know that the chicken crossed the road to show the possum it could be done.
My dad has taught me many wonderful, useful things, none the least of which is humor. Of course there were times when I just didn’t get the humor. As a high school band director, my dad could — and still can — play a mean trumpet, sometimes to the tune of reveille up and down the halls as a way of waking his five children for school.
As a kid I just didn’t get it. As a dad I wish I had taken trumpet lessons when I was younger.
Fathers Day is a day to honor our dads and remember all the things our dads have given us. My dad has given me many wonderful things, especially that “special” dad sense of humor, for which I’ll be eternally grateful. My kids, however, maybe not so much right now.
Good dads can be strict and disciplinarians when they need to be. They can be fun. They can be loving and they can be protective and nurturing. My dad was — and still is — all of these things and more. And they can also know how to turn any moment into an opportunity for a good ol’ corny dad joke. Like the one where the horse walks into a bar and the bartender asks, “Why the long face?”
I know, I know. Corny, to the point of being almost painful, like stepping on a rusty nail. Hey, speaking of a rusty nail …
Bennett Horne is the editor of the Press Argus-Courier and Alma Journal. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org