Of all the things I’ve learned from my dad, embracing being a character is one of my favorites.
Superlatives are good (the best?). Being a doctor is the best thing you can be. (He’s a lawyer, no one in our family is a doctor.) Vermont is the best state. (None of us have ever lived in Vermont.) The nature vs. hotels thing…well that one holds true for him.
My dad will talk to anyone, and makes friends everywhere. On a college-visiting trip at Middlebury, we were eating dinner at the inn we were staying at, just us and about 40 middle-aged ladies on a bike trip. My dad stands up in the dining room and gives them a toast, not knowing them at all. I was embarrassed at the time, but now I aspire to have guts like that. The risk of looking ridiculous is small compared to the joy/laughter you bring to others.
People love my dad. Friends of mine, even ones who have only met him once or twice, always ask how he is or what he’s been up to lately. It’s beyond the courtesy “how is your family” inquiry. Sure it’s because he’s a riot, but mostly, I think it’s that he takes a genuine interest in people. Whether it’s his eternal quest for the greatest cheeseburger, or his latest travel adventure…
He makes an impression. He always has an opinion. And he takes a genuine interest in people and life. If at the end of the day I can say I’ve met those three criteria, then I would say I’m doing all right.
Happy Birthday, Dad!