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    June 17th, 2009

    Happy Father’s Day To One Of A Kind

    This is the Father’s Day weekend, and it’s a time when we all like to take a moment to thank our dads for, well, being our dads. And, if your father has passed on to the great Lazy Boy in the sky, as mine has, it’s also a time to reflect on just who your dad was. Well, my father was a character. And when I say ‘character’, I mean character in giant CAPITAL letters, in BOLD font, and underlined several times. Oh yes, if you looked up character in the dictionary, you know who’s picture you’d see. Now, he was a caring person, loved animals, and at times, had a pretty devastating sense of humour. But one of the features of his personality that fell squarely under the ‘character’ column, was that he was very fond of the ‘5 Finger Discount’. In other words, he liked to pinch, pilfer, filch, pocket, or just plain shoplift. If anyone ever made a comment about some item mysteriously showing up at our house, like, “Say, Dad, where did that piano come from?”

    His standard answer was, “Oh, that. It fell off the back of a truck.”

    Some of his targets were pretty minor, although they always made for extremely nerve wracking moments for me. For example, whenever he and my Mom and I went shopping, there was usually a stop in a department store cafeteria for coffee. My Dad always liked to have more than just one cup of coffee, but he didn’t want to pay for that extra cup, so he would slide his tray along to where the teapots were, grab one, and then go and fill it up with coffee, and that gave him just the right amount extra that he needed, gratis. But every time he did this, it was always at top speed, as if any second a coffee siren might go off and all hell would break loose…

    “Somebody stop that man! He just put coffee in a TEA POT. He’s stealing a second cup of coffee!! POLICE!! POLICE!!”

    So I always dreaded the tea pot moment, and for those few lightening speed seconds that he executed his mission, I would wander over looking at the desserts, pretending that I didn’t know him, just in case the alarm was sounded. I believe my Mom was doing the same in the salad section.

    I’ll admit to you today, and this is the first time ever, that throughout the entire span of my formative years, not once was toilet paper purchased. This is not because we had found some magical way of never going to the bathroom, or had purchased a used NASA toilet that just vacuumed everything away. No, it’s because on a regular basis, Dad brought home rolls of toilet paper from work, which, you guessed it, fell off the back of the toilet paper truck. I can’t tell you where he worked, because I don’t know what the statute of limitations is on Purex pilfering, but let’s just say, he had access to a lot of Charmin.

    Then there was his cache of miscellaneous items. Every once in a while I’d uncover his secret stash that was stuck in a corner of one of his dresser drawers. It was filled with many coveted items like crystal decanter stoppers…no crystal decanter, just the stopper. Same with the teapot lids. These things he would have found on an odds and ends sale table, and probably felt that the store had a lot of nerve to put a price on a crystal decanter stopper when there was no decanter, in the first place and so it was his duty to shove it in his pocket. And then I’m sure my Dad was just waiting for that moment when my Mother would announce, “Oh for goodness sakes! I accidentally flushed the crystal decanter stopper down the toilet. Now how are we going to keep fruit flies out of the wine?”

    “Don’t worry dear, I’ve got a spare one right here!”

    “Well, where did that come from?”

    “It’s the craziest thing. It fell off the back of this decanter delivery truck!”

    Of course, this all happened long before everything had magnetic security stickers and tags put on them and I suppose in one way, my Dad can feel proud that he contributed to changing the retail industry.

    Thankfully, it wasn’t something that was passed from father to daughter. Let me just state for the record; I pay for my toilet paper…I pay a LOT for my toilet paper.

    Nevertheless, Happy Father’s Day Dad, wherever you are. And my guess is that he’s up with the angels, because, you know, he did like the little animals. But if that is truly where he is, then St. Peter better not take his eyes of his harp.