chatting, life

Up with the patriarchy

I know lots of people say they have the best dad in the world. They don’t. That’s because I do. I have cornered that market. Well, I share him with my sister and stepsister, but I am older and marginally taller than both of them, and therefore the market is mine.

Sigh. Ok. I’m already lying, and we are barely 50 words in. Fine. I admit it. They are taller than me. This is something that is logically “the truth”, if you want to be a mathematician about it. But at the same time, it’s also “crap” in the sense that I am the oldest one and have suffered far worse haircuts than either of those girls have even dreamed.


Yes, that happened to me. Yes, it happened deliberately. I went to the hairdresser and I requested that they do that to me. Then, do you know what happened? I went back. I went back and asked for it again. I pointed at the short fluffy strands of brownish hair that had tried desperately to hide my forehead, and requested they be made shorter and fluffier and even less flattering on my then fatter-and-more-moon-like-face.

Look again at that hair. I deserve to be the tallest of my sisters. I am the tallest of my sisters.

So, given my height and age’d authority, I can speak for all three of us when I say we have the best dad in the world.

Last Christmas I went to visit and Dad collected me at the airport on Christmas morning. I talked excitedly and without pausing about my job, my love life, my cold sore, my hat, and all the things I wanted to eat that day. He listened silently before saying thoughtfully, “you know, I’ve really gotten into afternoon drinking”. Sure, he followed it up with useful life advice, but why not start with a non-sequitur about holiday beer? True to his claim, every afternoon over the holiday he’d bring me a Stella Artois, often accompanied by a small bowl of chips, before returning to his gardening.

He’s the sort of guy who will chew on a length of straw while contemplating a sunset. Then he’ll make a “boop boop” noise for the tenth time that day, just because it sounds funny and my stepmother likes to pretend to be annoyed by it.

He also does this pose in almost every picture.
He also does this pose in almost every picture.

When one of my exes turned nasty he offered to fly me down the country that same day. He’s offered me a room in his house should I ever decide to write a novel. Sometimes, if he’s in a really good mood, he’ll even offer you some of his pistachios. Just one or two, mind. Don’t go crazy.

Years ago – but still after that haircut (scroll up if you’ve forgotten, but if you’re anything like me, it will be seared into your memory forever) – we took a road trip together. I had planned out Dad-friendly playlists. Leonard Cohen, Dean Martin, Queen. Half an hour in and he asked if he could have “a turn”. I obliged and he put in an unlabelled CD and turned the volume knob all the way around. Tapping the steering wheel, he started belting “she looks good but her boyfriend says she’s a mess, she’s a mess, she’s a mess, now the girl is stressed”. “WHAT IS THIS?” I yelled, and he replied “IT’S MY LADY GAGA MIX”.

Last Christmas he’d shifted away from Gaga and was into Lana Del Rey. During a family viewing of the Hunger Games he paused it to tell us that Lana spelt her surname with a capital D and a capital R. This wasn’t as out-of-context as you’d think, as he’d paused the movie maybe ten times to share “fun factoids” with us.  Did you know Tom Cruise makes $40m a movie? That Brad Pitt’s earnings, for just one movie, would have paid for the toll road in Northland New Zealand? I didn’t know these things easier, but after a viewing of the Hunger Games, I’d been educated.

Ask about a movie and he’ll give you a one word review – usually “tremendous” or “bullshit”. Once he described Gangs of New York as “not wicky”. On a related note, he’s quick to learn new words that his daughters teach him.

Possibly one of his most endearing traits is his approach to technology. He doesn’t seem to see it as a tool, but as a suspicious threat to be approached with caution. He still types with just his index fingers. His audiobooks folder on his computer is called “other gunk of a verbose nature”. He has a ringbinder next to his computer with handwritten pieces of paper inside, each with instructions on how to perform computer functions. I got him into podcasts a few years ago, configuring his computer to automatically download anything new, and his iPod to automatically sync. This still lead to confusion, so I sat with him on my last visit to go through it. He had prewritten the beginning of the instructions, starting with “Step One: open iTunes”.

One year I asked if his phone could take pxts, and this was the entirety of his response.

One of my fondest childhood memories is sitting at my grandparents dining room table as a little girl. We crowded in for breakfast, my Poppo’s porridge on the stove and homecooked bread cooling on a rack. Dad had returned from a 6am-mid-winter ocean swim, and as the rest of us rubbed sleep from our eyes, he tried to one-up my grandfather with finding rhyming words for “honey”. It culminated in them throwing the jar back and forth, making “runny poo” jokes in dramatic Shakespearean voices, as my grandmother held her head in her hands. My dad is a character, a good kiwi bloke. If I turn out half as great as he is, I’ll have it made.

Dad, you old cobber! I hope your Father’s Day is amazing.

2 thoughts on “Up with the patriarchy”

  1. Well look, I am not completely hopeless with this inter web stuff, – I am leaving a message on this milk shake device after all. I’d hate the world to think you had a dinosaur (who can’t spell) for a Dad, and its funny reading this cause I thought – its like Kate is writing about an old person. and then… Shit, perhaps I am straying into that area a bit. Thanks for the kind words my dear -and for kindly leaving out the all too frequent horror stories. Woop woop. Lots of Love daddo xx

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