The Things I Learned From My Dad

Now if you read the title of this blog, you may get the impression that that I am honoring my father who passed away a couple of years ago. Perhaps you are thinking that this is a way for me to remember my dad because I have been missing him lately. Well, I do miss my dad and I am honoring him in my own way. I’m not sure that’s how he would see it.

My dad, John Romig, had many gifts. He could take apart an engine and put it back together. He was so good, he didn’t even need to use all the parts that were in it in the first place. He was also able to design all kinds of interesting things without a blueprint or even a plan. At the moment, I can’t think of any that worked, but I’m sure some of them did. Then there were the things I learned and still laugh about them to this day.

Blogger’s note: I admit that I occasionally exaggerate occurrences in my life for the sake of humor and a much more interesting story than ever really happens to me. These stories are factual with no exaggeration needed, and I have a brother and two sisters who will back me up on this.

To this day, I don’t like meatloaf thanks to one experience with Dad’s Meatloaf of Death! (death, death, death – imagine an ominous echo) Mom had to go into the hospital for a few days and Dad was to be responsible for the normal house duties including cleaning, laundry and (pause for dramatic effect) cooking. Dad had a memory of something his mom would make when he was a child called German Meatloaf. It was a simple recipe. As far as he could remember, it had a pound of ground beef and a pound of ground sausage. Dad, being a dad, didn’t look at his ingredients too carefully and made it with a pound of hamburger and two pounds of sausage. Okay, not perfect, but not a disaster…yet. Dad liked his food spicy. He was the one who would salt and pepper everything before he even tried a bite. He thought he would kick the meatloaf up a notch. To this day, we are not sure what he put in the meatloaf. Cayenne pepper seemed to be one of the first choices. We were pretty sure that there was a pound of that in there, too. There was also Tabasco sauce, extra salt, Worcestershire sauce, and wherever else he found in the cabinet. When he placed it on the table, the four kids each took a fork full of meatloaf, placed the bite in our mouths, and spit the ghastly stuff back onto out plates in a way that is usually reserved for the movements of synchronized swimmers. Dad was initially hurt by our reaction… until he tried it. Even he could only take a couple bites.

I promise I am not making this next part up. The dog would not eat it! Yeah, the dog, who licked his own butt and ate poop, would not eat the meatloaf. The cat ate a few bites of this dangerous stuff. Apparently, it caused either so much physical or emotional pain in our cat that the feline decided life was not worth it. Our cat ran out in front of a car the next day. We all blamed the meatloaf. It was carefully wrapped in aluminum foil and placed in the refrigerator. Someone (not me) put a little flag on it that said: “Dad’s Meatloaf”. I thought the skull and crossbones was a nice touch. Eventually it disappeared from the frig. Rumor has it that someone decided to set it free in the back yard because we were fairly sure this was a new life form. The next day, my brother’s turtle disappeared. Coincidence?

The lesson I learned: Don’t make meatloaf. It kills pets.

On the Fourth of July, my dad and his friend were setting off fireworks for the family. There were little missiles, Roman candles, bottle rockets and fountains. One of the fountains turned out to be a dud. It was a sad moment for us because it was a really big fountain that promised to shoot sparks high into the air. My dad and his buddy were sitting there in the darkness, trying to figure out what to do. Dad took his cigarette and stuck it down the top of the fountain.

The lesson I learned: Don’t smoke. It is hard to put your pants out when they are smoking. The cigarettes aren’t so good for you, either; even when they aren’t in your mouth.

One last disaster my dear, darling Daddy dared to do. My father loved motorcycles. I enjoy them, but he had a love that bordered on obsession. To be fair, his affection was across that border by a good ten miles. He got me to race motocross on a little bike when I was young. When I was first learning to ride on the dirt track, Dad wanted to show me how to do it. Okay. No problem. He knew how to ride and how to ride on a dirt track. Did I mention that I was young? Pre-teen young? The dirt bike was a Kawasaki 80. The smallest of the racing motorcycles. Dad was 5’ 10”. You see where this is going, right? He started the bike, revved the motor, dropped it into gear, and released the clutch. For a little bike, it could really move! It moved so fast that it shot out from under my dad. That would have been funny all by itself.

When you’re water skiing and you fall, you let go of the rope. When you rev up a dirt bike and it shoots out from under you, you let go of the handlebars. Dad didn’t get that memo. A full-grown adult running behind a small dirt bike, trying to stop it without breaking anything on the bike or the man, is really funny to a kid.

The lesson I learned: Do not do something stupid on a motorcycle when you son is watching. He can crack his ribs laughing and rolling around on the ground, begging for air.

Those little incidents helped me learn what not to do. Now if you will excuse me, I have to go prepare this dish my mom used to make for us. I can’t wait for my son to try my version of her haggis. I think my addition of the chocolate chipotle sauce will make it a meal to remember.

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