Monday, June 20, 2011

Bill Keane, Phone Home

Dan's note: This is like the "Family Circus" putatively done by one of the cartoon kids except this guest posting is by adult children and it's thoughtful rather than cute. 

Post this on your blog tomorrow and no one gets hurt!

Your regularly scheduled Dan Verner blog entry has been hijacked by his two daughters today.  We find this only fair since it's Father's Day, and especially because he taught us how to write and/or be hilarious.

Alyssa: Even though I thought "human beings" were "human beans" until I was about eight years old.  Dan Verner would probably find human beans tasty...on biscuits.  He has pretty diverse culinary tastes, even though he does not like gum, or milk, or watermelon.   Mmmmm, watermelon.

Amy: Nom nom nom. That is something Dan Verner might say, in regards to sammiches (also known as sandwiches, for those of you who don't speak LOLspeak). And for those of you wondering what LOLspeak is, I'm not really sure myself, except it's this made-up language that people put on funny pictures of cats they then put on the internet. Dan is one of the only sixty-somethings I know who has adopted LOLspeak and embraces it as his own. Whether or not that's right or appropriate is another matter, but it clearly shows 1) he's at ease with computers and not afraid to try things out and 2) he's funny and 3) he's young at heart.

Alyssa: Speaking of LOL Cats, our dad calls us "the kittehs."  I would say that this is because he loves kitties, as evidence by the fact that he wakes up at 4 a.m. to feed Nacho, his dilute tortiseshell cat.  She's a good companion for him, because she's cute, smart, protective and completely neurotic.  I suspect that he adopted her after Amy and I had both moved out of the house, because he was so used to dealing with slightly difficult young ladies for over twenty years at that point.  (Thanks for not killing us during our teen years, dad!)  He also calls us "the squirrels."  I think that has more to do with "squirrels" rhyming with "girls," and not because squirrels are his arch nemesis--he hates that they eat the bird food out of the feeder.  But I think if squirrels are the only nemesis you can come up with, you're doing pretty well at life.  Our dad has an appreciation for (or at least a tolerance of) most people and things.

Amy: In terms of tolerance of children (girls, squirrels, kittehs, whatever), our dad tolerated us pretty well every summer when we were home with him. He did things to help us all pass the time, like take us to the library and the mall, where we'd visit Cinnabon. And early-morning swimming lessons. I'm not sure how much I actually learned at those lessons, since the only memories I have of the them is that they were really, really early; the water was really, really cold, and my dad made us listen to something really, really boring on the radio as we drove to and from Stonewall Park Pool. Later I'd learn it was the Oliver North hearings, and in retrospect the hearings were important (I guess), but I'm still convinced they were really, really boring. So, I suppose our dad taught us it's important to be well-informed, to learn to swim, to go to the library and be well-read, and to value Cinnabon as one of the food groups.

Alyssa: We were often tortured with really boring things on the radio, such as National... Public... Radio... (which must be said as slowly as possible) and A Prarie Home Companion (hosted by Garrison Keillor, who is MY nemesis).  The older I get, though, the more I find myself listening to things like NPR or WTOP, and then calling or e-mailing my dad to discuss current events.  I enjoy that we can discuss South Park and the Federal Debt Ceiling in the same conversation, and that he has insightful things to say about both.  We still haven't figured out why he hasn't been on Jeopardy! yet, because he'd probably give Ken Jennings a run for his money.  He will tell you that he wouldn't do well with certain categories, like "celebrities" or "potent potables," although I feel confident that while he's taught Amy and me about pretty much every other category of life, we could give him a crash course in both.  No wonder he's so proud of us.

Amy: Well, I'm not sure how many times I've had an insightful conversation with Dan Verner about the federal debt ceiling, because I'm not really sure that I know what it is. (OK, now that I thought about it, I do recall seeing something on the Daily Show about it. It's the amount of money the US can borrow at any one time. Which, for some reason, the US can raise when it needs more money. Hmm.) But he has always been supportive of me when I talk to him about teaching, meetings, testing, school principals (Hi, Cindy! Love you!), co-workers, paperwork, grading, and the like. Even though he's been retired for years now, he still remembers what it's like and is quick with a "Principals are morons, schedule too many pointless meetings, and forget what it's like to be in the classroom" if I need a word of support. (Hi again, Cindy! You're not a moron at all! That's just me speaking hypothetically!) I guess when you spend 32 years in the classroom, it's hard to forget.

Alyssa: Outside of teaching, which is a noble profession pursued by my father and sister (but not me--I would kill someone, quite possibly the principal, even though I don't know you, Cindy) our father really has always supported us.  He was pretty patient with me when we I was five  and would hide my dress shoes in an attempt to get out of church, he was understanding when I was fifteen and wanted to put blonde streaks in my hair (I remember him telling less understanding people "it's not drugs, it's not pregnancy, it's HAIR), and he was a great listener during the second half of my twenties, when everything that possibly could go wrong did go wrong.  A lot of things that he's taught me--give people the benefit of the doubt, make educated decisions, be patient, have a sense of humor, and, when in doubt, eat a biscuit--have really shaped who I am and made me a better and less hungry person.  I consider myself extremely lucky to have him as a dad.  Happy Father's Day, Dan Verner!

Amy: Don't think I could say it any better, so I echo Alyssa's sentiments, except for the hair part. Somehow I've made it to 33 without ever coloring my hair. I let Alyssa take that on.

Happy Father's Day!


  1. Early on, JC and I decided that we could consider ourselves successful parents if we raised our two daughters to be people who we'd enjoy hanging out with even if they WEREN'T our daughters. I think you've been extremely successful....

  2. How proud you must be of your two daughters! It is certainly apparent that they belong to you! :)

  3. Thank you, Mary and Hannah. We are very proud of them.