Father’s Day is just around the corner and it presents a perfect opportunity to describe one of my favorite experiences shared with my father. Not surprisingly, it involves whisky.
My Dad and I look alike. My two brothers favor our mother and I became a chip off the old block. Apart from our looks, however, Dad and I are very different people. Dad is the quintessential traditional guy: science major (Chemistry), outdoorsy, emotionally reserved, stoic, deliberate. No sense of fashion outside of what Mom puts on him before special events. I am the quintessential new age guy: liberal arts major (History with a Jewish Studies Certificate), not a camper, an emotional open book (sensitive, even), excitable, outgoing and seemingly carefree (though it is an affectation, I swear!). I prefer to dress well because, when I looks good, I feels good! Dad splashes on some aftershave, while I’ve got some lame, metrosexual skincare and hair care product rituals that include dabbing eau de cologne in strategic places. Dad is a doctor and I am a lawyer. This means that Dad knows I am an insufferable dipshit and that he is always right. You get the picture? Odd Couple (doopee doopee doooo, doopee do, doopee doo dooo…).*
Mark Twain famously noted that, at 16, he regarded his father as the most ignorant man who ever lived, and by the time he turned 21, he could not believe how much his father had learned in such a short time! [Total paraphrase, just to be clear.] Similarly, despite some rough patches during my misspent and rebellious youth, my Dad and I have come a long way. We have developed a degree of respect for each other’s personalities, if not a complete understanding or approval. Despite our differences, I believe he knows how much I love him and that I have learned a lot about being a man from his example. I believe Dad looks past my shortcomings to recognize that I am a great father to his grandchildren, and a pretty cool guy. One thing that I completely appreciate is that Dad went to great lengths to instill a strong family value in his sons, despite that his upbringing did not include a stable, standard family situation. As a result, my brothers and I are very close, even if we don’t talk every day. That is a gift, Dad, and I thank you for it.
Largely due to our varied interests and personalities, Dad and I do not have a huge bank of togetherness time to look back upon nostalgically. But we do have plenty. Enough to remind me constantly that Dad has gone out of his way to make sure my life would be good. Enough to spark fond, celluloid filmstrips in my hazy mind about warm and fun family moments. Times on the boat, or camping (I preferred cabin camping), or hunting, or throwing a baseball around. Times when religion connected us, or when lifecycle events brought his pride forth, like my bar mitzvah, my wedding, and the baby naming ceremonies of my three girls. Yep, we do have some fond memories in common.
One of my fondest memories of a time Dad and I shared together involves whisky. When I was in college, we travelled from Pittsburgh to Philly for my cousin’s bar mitzvah. We stayed at a nice hotel in Center City that featured a luxury-sports-bar hybrid, with peanut husks on the floor but a wide-ranging single malt Scotch menu (back then I called it Scotch. Now I know better; it’s just whisky.). I was not quite of age, but had a good fake ID. In a rare moment that was uncharacteristic of Dad’s straight-laced adherence to law and order, Dad and I took a seat at the bar and began sampling whiskies. I was so impressed by this moment, with Dad and me sitting like two men sharing drams, that I took his lead and found myself agreeing with his every word. He disliked the peated whiskies; so did I. He favored the light, sweet drams; so did I. We studied the menu like he was helping me study for the bar exam. We worked up a little buzz. We decided our favorite that night was The Dalwhinnie. For years that was all I would buy when I had a few extra bucks burning a hole in my pocket.
My whisky tastes have evolved greatly since then. I have developed a penchant for peated whiskies and I’m still working on bringing Dad around to that acquired taste. It will be easier now that Dad has become a Founding Member of the Single Cask Nation. We’ll bring him around.
Dad, thanks for supporting this effort. Thanks for helping to nurture my appreciation for fine whiskies. I look forward to sharing many incredible drams with you as the Nation rolls on.
To you, and to all the members of Single Cask Nation (Dads or otherwise): Happy Father’s Day. I wish you all fond memories of special times shared
*Admit it. You doo-whopped along with the Odd Couple theme!