Last month, I had no less than seven requests to write a blog about one person, but that person wasn't me. It wasn't Hitler, either, with whom I have a long-standing fascination, and it wasn't the Esq, who I love more than bacon. It was Rick, Justin's dad--or, as I like to think of him, The Original Esq. Here are the excerpts from these requests:
"I would like an entire post dedicated to the mystery that is the Esq's father sometime. :) Him and his Mr. Yuk stickers. And his Halloween costume hating. And how good he is at games."
"Remember that story you told me about the Esq's dad in Japan? Tell that one again, or anything about him."
"I have a feeling the Esq came from some strange planet--what are his parents like? Is he like his dad? I have a feeling his dad is probably a good blog story."
"Dude, do a blog about Rick--he'd be a hysterical blog. Plus, Rick rocks."
"You hang out a lot with the Esq's family, but hardly ever talk about them. Is there a reason? I saw his dad on your Convo blog and thought he seemed funny."
"When are you going to write about Justin's dad? THAT'S YOUR FUTURE, MARIKA."
That last one killed me. OH MY GOD, how it killed me.
I decided to wait until Rick's birthday to post anything, because I thought a Thanksgiving family trip to Portland might reveal something about him I didn't already know; but now that I'm writing this, I realize I have very few facts. All I have are observations, so this will be less like a Wikipedia page, and more like an op-ed fluff piece.
The Esq is like both of his parents, although he might disagree with me. I certainly see more of Rick in the Esq's social tendencies: in the way they geek out, in how they connect with people, and in their general life frustrations. They both have very little tolerance for incredibly specific things (slow technology, certain people, politics), and yet a very high tolerance for others (new technology, relatives, small barking dogs). They both go on long, winding tangents, in an effort to give you all the information that was ever made available about the subject, and also in an effort to be helpful. I once compared it to being taken down a rabbit hole and getting lost forever--but I really enjoy talking to Rick because he's knowledgeable about the strangest things (ultrasound technology, the saxophone, omelettes), and also pretty funny.
Rick has lived in Japan, and he's also quite the enigma, so I guess you could say he's an International Man of Mystery--and his Girl Friday is the Esq's mom, Kim. They make a good team, complementing each other in ways that are seen and unseen. They've been married so long that Kim seems completely unfazed by Rick in every way, which would be really hard for me to do; apparently I am easily 'fazed'. Rick paces, he flails, he wildly gesticulates; he tries to convey what the Good Old Days were like, without boring me to tears. Sometimes he'll poke fun of you and apologize in the same sentence; other times, he'll say something offensive and laugh like HA HA HAoknevermind. He also says stuff that I've deemed to be 'Rick-isms', even though he didn't coin the phrases--like when he says THAT'S HOW I ROLL, or BITCHES AIN'T SHIT BUT HO'S AN TRICKS--just kidding, I made that one up (actually, Dr. Dre did)--it seriously makes me laugh, even two days later. He's COOL, while also being a dorky dad-type.
There are small things that Rick does which confound and delight me: he'll be talking about something, and then all of a sudden, abruptly leave the room; he announces his jokes and over-preps you for the punchline, just like my dad; he broadly hints at stuff in the most direct manner possible, like YOU SHOULD DO IT *HINT WINK NUDGE NOD*, which makes me think he's part-Samoan; he makes the best omelette, but constantly talks about his sister's superior cooking while making them; and although he carries around guilt like a recovering Catholic and complains like a Jewish mom (in tone, not frequency--I was asked to clarify), he's not religious at all. See what I mean? Enigma. Also, Rick would point out a word like 'enigma', and make a joke about enemas... much like he does with the words 'peanut' and 'penis', although I laugh every time--mostly because I'm a giant, immature nerd.
Rick and I actually have some things in common, other than his offspring: we both share a love for kosher salt, which I think is important in any relationship. We both like jazz, vinyl, bad movies, eggs, evenly-spaced Christmas lights on the Christmas tree, blown glass, family gatherings, Pandora, dessert, our siblings, our children, ranting, raving, fleece, and chillaxing. I hate nuts, he's deathly allergic to them (this is where the Mr. Yuk stickers come in: he puts them on food packages containing nuts), we both have short fuses, and we both throw tantrums in the same woefully dramatic way. I've often felt like Rick exists in the same strange fishbowl I do: a small, introverted world that looks out into the big, extroverted world. Observation before participation, participation with hesitation, then fun after acclimation; it's like the Introverts' Creed.
One thing I really like about Rick is that he's clearly in love with his wife after so many years together; for a non-believer, it's nice to have examples of successful marriages in Real Life (this includes my parents, too--over forty years!). When I asked the Esq if he felt his dad was a good role model, he said 'yes' without hesitation--citing Rick's patience, intelligence, technical skills (and willingness to teach), support, and gentle nature as just some of the many qualities he admires. I would guess that KJ, Rick's daughter, is likely his extreme polar opposite, but my feeling is that they have the exact same hot buttons; they're generally in truce mode, but they're both passionate people so it can definitely get interesting. They may think they come from a completely different mold, but I can see the similarities; and KJ has said to me, on more than one occasion, that her dad has always been a sweet person and a really good guy. I definitely agree. I can tell he genuinely loves his family, even if he seems slightly displaced at times; he seems like a man who is consistently yet pleasantly surprised to still find a wife, kids, dogs, technology, food, fun, music, and a Christmas tree, all under the same old roof.
Things I forgot to mention: he loves board games, as do I; whatever board game we choose determines whether he'll win or not--he's either really good or really not; he plays the sax fairly well, I've heard (from others and with my own ears); he seems to like the colors blue and purple together, which might harken back from his hippie days; he once spent an evening searching Japan for a beer that was eventually found in a vending machine; he drinks his whiskey neat; he idolizes his dad, who has been gone for a while, yet I rarely hear about his mom, who is still living (and has the same birthday as him, incidentally); he's a total sucker for their poofy Pomeranians, Chato and Miel, who are adorable and awful; and he's got a big, squishy heart of gold that's probably made out of chocolate. Amongst other stuff.
The point is, for those of you who wanted to know about Rick, or where the Esq came from, this is most of what I've observed. I understand his birthday was yesterday, but this blog post started going rogue last night, and I needed to take a break. SO... a belated happy birthday to the Esq's dad, whom I have loved getting to know! I was watching you the other night, and wrote these notes down in my phone:
'Rick: loud dork, silent bad ass. Whimsically logical. Silly and serious. Yoda characteristics without being green, and Red Green elements without being a Canadian wilderness honky. Unlikely combination--but it works.'