a Dad we can believe in

There was a time in my life as a kid when I honestly thought my dad should be president. He had plenty of political opinions and since he always seemed to do everything with our family's best interests in mind, it didn't seem like a huge leap of faith that he would do the same for the rest of America. This Saturday we pulled up to the front of our new house and as soon as I opened the car door I could hear my father shouting at contractors in the back yard. Somewhere between learning to write in cursive and the moment I stepped out of that car a few days ago, I realized that maybe my father wasn't cut out for politics or public office.

After things died down a bit (and the contractors left in a huff), I gleaned that my father's rage stemmed from the HVAC guy nearly trashing our entire cooling unit and frying the thermostat by hooking up the wrong wires despite my father's demands for him to stop. But one thing my father would have learned had he pursued a career in the public eye is that being right doesn't really make people listen to you when you're purple-faced and yelling about relays, 220 volts and your previous 25 years of experience. Just ask Howard Dean what a bit of over-exuberance gets you.

To say that the last 76 days with Enterprise Builders has been tiring would be an understatement. My father has waged a campaign against the atrocities of shoddy workmanship, poor communication, and utter disrespect for our house and the craft of carpentry. But in this 11th hour, when the punch list is less than a dozen items long and we just want them out of our house, he doesn't know when to quit. He honestly can't imagine that if someone is wrong and he points it out that they might just blow him off or purposely sabotage him or the project out of spite. My father's heart overflows with compassion and empathy but he has a hard time really understanding how the rest of the world works, for better or for worse. It's like living with My Favorite Martian, only not everyone can see the antennae on Daddy's head.

My father mentioned last week that the only way to deal with the owner of Enterprise Builders and his irrational demands ($12,000 quote for our porch, $4000 change order quote for removing roof shingles that didn't exist) is to disengage from him and the whole situation. He calls it "being more like Ronald Reagan," in that he believes one of Reagan's talents in office was to act casual in the face of scandals so that no one could possibly find him at fault. (I told you he had strong political opinions.) But not two days after his prophetic statements, he was on the phone with me freaking out because Donnie told him that Bert said Bill said they couldn't paint the bathroom because my father was being too picky about the sanding and they're going to blame the whole project on him.

"You're not really getting it that Donnie's just talking out of his ass to get a rise out of you and it's so easy to do there's not even really any sport to it?"

My father has thrown himself into this project with all his energy and to send him away at this point would break his spirit. It's been priceless to have his help and supervision while Three Stooges Construction renovate our home. But goddamn, I just don't know how many more days I can listen to how vinyl sheeting is destined to pucker or rip, our heating bills will be outrageous because of inadequate insulation, our carpet choice is too expensive, the master bath is 3" too wide and we'll kick ourselves if we don't have two medicine cabinets. Optimism have never really been one of his strong suits.

My father may have made a horrible president and he certainly wouldn't have made any money as a contractor. He doesn't know how to be anything else other than my dad and thankfully he's still getting good employee reviews from that job after all these years. It's the one job you can do well by not knowing when to quit.

Genie and Daddy - Halloween 1982(?)