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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Writing Prompt: Dear Old Dad

By Marilyn Friedman

June and July are the perfect months to bring your journal to the beach and write your own bestselling summer read or blockbuster! Writing Pad has many ways to help you do it! Check out what we have on our menu for the next few weeks below:
Writing Prompt: Here is a writing prompt in honor of Father's Day. Make a list of 5 products that you associate with your father. Pick one and write about it for ten minutes. Make sure to include one of the less common sensory details (e.g., smell, taste, sound, touch). Then post your ten minute write in the comments of this blog! Whenever I think of my father, I think of Lava Soap, so that's what my piece will be about.

Comment on this blog! What product do you associate with your Dad? Write about it for ten minutes and then post your writing in this blog for the chance to win a free class!


Lisa H said...

I never met a cheese I didn’t like – which explains why my cholesterol is off the chart. White cheese, soft cheese, hard cheese, blue cheese – I love them all with a passion.

Being half Italian, I think cheese is literally part of my DNA or blood type. But my obsession goes well beyond Teleme and parmesan – and it all started with a little yellow box stashed in the very back of our refrigerator. This little box, innocent in appearance, once opened was akin to unleashing the Arc of the Covenant. The smell, some describe as reminding them of old socks, lives in my olfactory memories – and brings back some very special moments I shared with my dad.

I treasured the quiet Sunday afternoons when Mom and Chris were off shopping at the fabric store or visiting the ranch – and it was just Dad and me at home. Dad was never a big talker, which drove my mom and sister crazy, but somehow he and I managed to communicate beyond words. We’d hang out in the yard, fuss around in the kitchen or just veg out in front of a football game on TV. The quiet was never uncomfortable – we were happily content to just be in the same room.

Dad was an early riser, so around 11:30am, he’d start to feel peckish for lunch – and being the food-loving, slightly chubby and obedient daughter, I was quick to oblige him. He’d put down his newspaper, take off his glasses, get a gleam in his eye and head to kitchen, where I’d hear him rummaging through the always-packed refrigerator.

And then the magic sound of the cheese drawer… and I knew he was pulling out the special yellow wooden box. Stinky cheese!! To this day, I’m not sure what type of cheese it actually was (something German, I’m sure) – I only remember the box, the permeating smell, and the wonderful taste of the well-aged blob smeared on ultra-thin pumpernickel bread. Dad often put a few slices of his homemade dill pickles on the side, and we both noshed in delicious silence.

I’ve since sampled cheeses from around the globe – from cheese mongers in France and Italy, to white-gloved waiters at black-tie bashes. And yet I still yearn for the Holy Grail of cheeses – that little yellow box that takes me back to Sundays with Dad.

David S. said...

The bottle caps from beer bottles remind me of my father, and it is not because there is an association or connotation of alcoholism. In fact, my father didn’t drink much and the reason I think of bottle caps is I associate them with rewards.

When I was younger I kept these bottle caps from the beers Dad would drink, especially on weekends where he would help my uncle the mechanic with doing tune-ups on either my dad’s car, my uncle’s station wagon, or a car or truck from the neighborhood. Dad was a general labor man, in that he was adept at learning whatever was needed to do the job, and held many jobs. Around the time I was born he was a pressman for the old LA Herald Examiner, and I believe there’s a connection between my love of words and my dad’s job at the time - it seems like the ink he touched got into his blood and eventually into my blood.

Beer was something to look forward to, in my dad’s point of view. Enjoy the drink, enjoy the feel of the cold glass bottle in your hands. Since I was way too young to drink beer, and hated the scent of it, somehow I was drawn to the bottle caps and even those had a faint aroma of stale beer. That was mostly because I never washed them after I got them from the table whenever Dad or my uncle would sit and drink.

When I was in high school I began to drink, with beer being the cheapest thing to buy especially if friends used fake IDs to buy a case or at least a 12-pack. I never drank during the week, and neither did my friends. We waited until Friday nights to get together and knock back a few. Sometimes it was cans, sometimes it was bottles, but by then I appreciated the taste of beer. It was a reward for having finished a week of school. In college I would celebrate turning in final projects or the end of exams by hanging out with friends at bars and drinking, the reward for hard work and at that point it was an opportunity to recharge.

I keep beer bottle caps in my apartment, though not out of a habit or a collecting bug. Rather, I sometimes get lazy and don’t pick up after myself when it comes to the cracking open of a beer and to sit and watch TV. My dad has since remarried (he and Mom divorced when I was finishing college, and it became official after I moved to California and started grad school), but I would like to have him try some of the different craft beers I’ve become fond of these last couple of years. And to reassure him I cherish them as rewards for whenever the hard work has been done.

Amy Vorpahl said...

My dad and tears go hand in hand, not because of the amount he cries, but because when/if he does, I remember those moments more than any other moment. Every wedding, every time he hears the national anthem, every time he watches "Father of the Bride," every time he sees me in a play. It's special when he cries. Something good is happening.

He is a sensitive cowboy type from Texas. I think his drawl has gotten worse (or better, depending how you think about it) age. He's an oil engineer with 4 daughters (I'm one of them), and he'll outrock anyone at some country karaoke.

The most memorable Dad-slash-tear was actually when I was crying. One night, my senior year of high school, my mom, dad, my twin sister and I had all been discussing colleges and how to pay for tuition. It was a deep, intense conversation, and it scared me. I stayed up really late and couldn't go to sleep. He found me crying in the living room sitting on the couch--I had woken him up. Since I can remember, any sound in the house made my dad wake up--I suppose it was his paternal protective instinct.

I was worried because I knew for a long time that I was going to major in acting, and that drama departments had small, if any, scholarships to offer. I'd be in debt for a long time. The main question that was on my mind was, "Was it worth it?"

He came into the room and asked what was wrong. I said, "I don't know," and almost fell into his arms. Dads are good for hugs. He just held me and let me cry for a bit, until I finally asked, "Should I be an actress?" Without hesitating, he simply said, "Yes." Nothing else needed to be said. He somehow knew exactly when to speak and what to say. He didn't just want me to be happy--he believed in me. Truly believed that I should be an actress. Just "yes."

That moment is one of the most fantastic moments I have ever experienced. I told that story when I graduated from OU Drama Department and was asked to give the commencement speech for that specific school. And here I am almost ten years later, still telling that story.

Ben and Jesse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jesse N. said...

It’s odd to say that mattresses with no sheets remind me of you. It’s not that we had any sort of weird father-daughter situation, let that be known. But the year you made a million dollars, the year when I was 4 and you could have started a college fund (not that I resent you for it, I’m far too old and you’re far too sorry for all that), the year I was 4 and you made a million dollars, you rented an apartment and paid an interior designer to design it. On a rental. Only years later do I understand the frivolity of that idea. Even the time when I came a rescued you from the mattress in the corner or the time I came and you had takeaway boxes piled so high I had to keep my eyeline up or I would get angry and sad for you at the same time, even those times I thought you owned the place. The weird Romanesque pillars the interior designer had used to divide the “dining room” from the “office”, that big industrial 80s glass-topped desk on big cinder blocks, they had lost some of the paint that was supposed to make them look like gray marble. But even then I thought you owned the place, even though I knew you were renting.

The woman (I never met her but you told stories) who designed the big studio apartment to be more like a real apartment had the idea of making a walk-in closet my bedroom. There was going to be a window cut away so I could look at you writing at your desk. We were going to paint a day sky on the ceiling and put glow-in-the-dark stars on top so it was day in day and night in night. Make it feel like the great outdoors even though it was a walk-in closet on the 46th floor of an apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. Community housing for artists, I always said. And there was a year that based on your income you only paid $245 dollars a month. Only now do I understand what that meant: that there was no more money left for painting the ceiling or cutting a window out of a wall in a closet to look at you writing at your desk. I just thought you forgot, or that it was going to happen soon.

She put in wall-to-wall charcoal gray carpet that rose up in one corner and covered a platform that your mattress would lay on. It was low enough that you couldn’t get a good jump off of it, high enough that it was sort of a bed. A floor that rose up to be a boxes spring. And out the big windows, the Statue of Liberty on your right and the Empire State Building on your left. And beneath us Port Authority and the snaking criss-cross of the West Side Highway where it dumped out in midtown. And your mattress on top often had no sheets, and sometimes your friends and I would move the bare mattress make up plays and perform them for you from the platform bed. And one of these friends let me smoke, but not inhale, when I was 7 or 8. I don’t think you knew, but if you did I think you would have been ok with it as long as I didn’t inhale.