||It's funny about fathers, the older I get, the more I realize how wise the old fart was.
During the sixties we were at odds. He wanted me to be a businessman like he was and I wanted to be an artist. We compromised and I took pre-architecture only to quit after three months, go around the world and enroll in university art school. Ah well.
He thought I was a commie, pinko, hippie deadbeat going to hell in a hand basket. I thought he was a reactionary old right wing bastard. After all, he admired John Diefenbaker, Richard Nixon, Alexander Haig and Spiro Agnew.
An aside; the only time I ever heard my dad say "fuck" was when that other pinko, Pierre Trudeau welcomed John and Yoko into 24 Sussex Street.
My dad always wanted me to learn to play "his game," golf, as he was a scratch golfer who won the Canadian National Junior Golf Championship in 1934 at 16-years-old. He said all my important business deals would be made on the golf course. So when I turned 13 he got me some clubs and sent me out to learn the game. I hated it. I lost 40 balls, broke a club and learned to swear.
When I was 22, a buddy and I went over to the old man's place for something, both of us sporting long hair and beards. As my friend was a very good golfer, I suggested my father play him. No way he'd play a damn hippie.
In 1979 he was out here in Vancouver and I suggested we play a round of golf at a club where my friend was now the assistant pro. We did the 18 holes and my father turned to me and said, "Son, for 30 years I resented the fact that you wouldn't play golf but you're forgiven, you have no natural ability. I'm glad you took up skiing." He then turned to my friend and said, "I wish we'd played that game back then, you're good."
A funny thing happened when I turned 30 and he came to the premiere of my feature film. He said for the first time he was proud of me. We became buds again.
A year later and six months before he passed away, he said to me, "You know, all my heroes turned out to be crooks and all your heroes were killed." He was referring to the Kennedys, King and John Lennon.
But I digress. What did I learn from him?
With varying degrees of success, I've endeavored to do all of the above.
- In business, always be 15 minutes early for any appointment and never wait more than half an hour for someone else. The former shows respect to others, the latter to you.
- Never be the last one to pick up a restaurant bill. There are plenty of cheap bastards out there and you don't need to be one of them.
- Never be a grinder for the same reason as above.
- Be decisive, nobody respects a pussy and don't be afraid to speak your mind.
- Personally, be honest, pay your bills and taxes on time and keep a good credit rating. It will pay off someday.
- Always be straight with your lawyer and your accountant but remember you're paying them to advise you, not tell you what to do. Make sure you see that they understand the difference.
- Be a man of your word. Say what mean,mean what you say and do what you say.
- Be a standup guy. Loyal to your friends, family and country.
- Find a restaurant and a bar and treat them well and you'll always have a place where you're welcome. Tip well, and you'll be treated well.
- Don't fuck around with cops. If you do you will lose.
- Never play another man's game whether it be investing or gambling. And don't put all your eggs in one basket in either.
- If you sleep with a woman, it doesn't matter whether she's the cheerleading queen or the high school slut, treat her well. Any woman who invites a man into her body deserves respect.
- Finally, don't walk around with a chip on your shoulder.
The old man was a character. At one point he was the western Canadian sales manager for a national firm and held a conference with 19 of his salesmen. One of them showed up with a beard. He told the guy he looked like an asshole with dentures and ordered him to shave it off. The next morning, the other 18 guys showed up wearing beards from the local costume store. The old man laughed, rescinded his order and within a week was sporting a moustache.
Today he would be considered a racist. He resented Jews because he felt they were better businessmen than he was. He hated the Germans because he was shot by one. He hated the French because that was where he was shot. He hated the English, because it rained for the year he was there before D Day. He hated the Italians because they switched sides in both wars. He hated the Japanese cause they sold steel cheaper than he could.
But the irony is, his best friends were, a Jew, a German, a Lebanese, a black man and a Chinese guy. So I guess he was kind of a global racist but not on a personal level. Go figure.
When he told me he was going to Europe on his honeymoon with his second wife, I said, "Where the hell are you going to go in Europe, you hate everyone there?" He replied, "I don't have anything against Spaniards."
When he returned I asked him how his holiday went. He said he now hated Spaniards. I asked him why and he replied, "They put potatoes in their pancakes!"
My father was honest, loyal, intelligent, compassionate, loving as well as being the proto-typical curmudgeon.
I miss the old bastard and I'm getting more and more like him as time goes by.