Monday, September 29, 2008

Animal Behavior and the Infallibility of Fathers

I spent a few hours tottering around the zoo on Saturday. I was tottering because my next-next-next to last clean outfit only looks right with heels. (Laundry-Free September continues!)

One of my favorite zoo activities, aside from chucking small children into the gibbon enclosure, is to follow families around and eavesdrop. Because I’m creepy that way. And because I'm looking to snatch a few babies to add to my collection.

Actually, I eavesdrop because the most fascinating animal behavior happens on our side of the cage. Any visit to a zoo, museum, or cultural event is an excuse for children to ask their parents EVERY SINGLE QUESTION ANYONE HAS EVER THOUGHT OF…and a few new ones. The questions are usually pretty tame, such as, “What do pandas eat?”


Mothers will readily admit defeat. “I don't know, now eat your vegetables or your face will freeze that way.”

Fathers, however, are a whole different story. The average father cannot bear being called out as ignorant, and, moreover, has no compunction whatsoever about lying to his progeny. I think it’s the same grandiosity gene that makes dads believe they can fully assemble a bicycle in fewer than ten minutes on Christmas morning.

And if the bike isn’t ready, it’s because Santa screwed up. Not Dad. Never Dad. Fathers are by biological imperative completely omniscient, omnipotent, and wise. This is what makes them so endearing.

Anyhoo, what do pandas eat?

Mom: I don’t know. Now stop trying to shove your sister into her diaper bag.
Dad: Naughty children.
Correct answer: Bamboo. And people who don't leave comments.

In the comments, tell me the most outrageous lie your daddy ever told you. If it's good, I won't feed you to the pandas.

24 comments:

Ibid said...

Winter is coming and babies make for great insulation. They don't hold up well, however. I've been lobbying HomeDepot to put a baby recycling bin out in the parking lot so when I clear out the walls to make room for the new babies I'll have a place to get rid of the old ones.

Dad didn't really talk much with us as kids. I on the other hand...

1) Jesus killed the dinosaurs. That's why you don't hear much about him until he was 30. He was out roaming the globe and slaughtering raptors. The church changed "raptor" to "Rapture" when they cut The Book of Stegasaurus from The Bible.

2) You know, a kid died on this ride a few months back.
On the spinning teacups?
Yep. He'd hit his head and cracked his skull but didn't know it. He felt fine. But once the teacups started spinning the back of his head opened right up and his brains flew out.

I'm afraid I'm drawing a blank. I've told some great ones though.

Ibid said...

3) It was pretty quiet where I grew up. We used to spend our evenings sitting on the pasture fence, watching the sun set, chucking rocks into the minefield...

Michael said...

Daddy's don't lie. Because men are PERFECT! All knowledge of everything is implanted in the male brain at conception. This is why the "Y" chromosome is so awesome. For example, we are never lost; we appear to be driving aimlessly looking for that address you wrote in the Whole Foods credit card receipt but in reality we are sweeping through the quadrants of the compass in order to connect the cerebral GPS to the Pole Star and thereby confirm our location in the iniverse, so just shut up about stopping to ask for directions. We don't need any, OK?

Shannon said...

Ibid - Those are lovely lies, so you've been spared from being fed to the pandas.

Though I first read that last sentence as, "Chewing rocks into the minefield," which sounded terribly manly. And possibly stupid.

Shannon said...

Michael - HA! I think my dad used to do that, too. His brain was in perfect alignment with the Tropic of Cancer.

Sarah said...

Ah, I have a good one. As a kid, I had a vague idea that there was a type of tax that affected the cost of my American Girl doll purchases and then another kind that made Daddy angry every April.

When I asked him to explain, he told me that the American Girl doll tax (aka sales tax) was the only kind, probably because he didn't want to take the time to explain income tax to a 6-year old. As a result, I was confused about taxes until about age 14.

Justin said...

According to my dad, he's a former semi-professional race car driver who made his first million being Jimmy Buffet's tour manager (which was after he instructed counterinsurgency classes in the NSA). At some point he was also a professional photographer who also was a demolitions expert (which I'm sure he learned around the same time he got his Ranger training). He speaks fluent French and Amharic having and skipped multiple grades in one day in a two-room schoolhouse in France. He got kicked out of Brown at 16 for having girls in his room. He sold a 911 to almost every player on the 1982 Atlanta Hawks (you know, when he owned the Porsche dealership). My mom's engagement ring was bought using the money his friend gave him for couriering drug money to Swiss banks on the Concorde.

There's more I'm forgetting.

The scary thing is, a lot of it is true, or just slightly hyped.

That is, he got kicked out of Brown for having bad grades, not girls :) I think his Amharic is only good enough to make witty banter with cab drivers, and I'm pretty sure he only went to Ranger school, not sure he actually made it through.

The rest I am forced to believe is true.. He certainly has some detailed stories.

Oh, and if we're including lies of omission, I only know he was married before because my mom told me. I'm hoping the bit about her becoming a lesbian was a "mom lie"

Justin said...

Oh yeah, and he also owned a Ferrari in his early 20's when he was in the Army. He had a $400/month stipend and a $392 car payment. He said paying for gas and insurance.... and food on $8/month was pretty tricky.

Shannon said...

Sarah - Ah, the Lies of Expedience...a paternal favorite.

Justin - Actually, I can sort of believe your dad's version of history - my own dad had quite the storied youth. Though I'm pretty sure he never really met Bill Cosby at a Playboy Club.

Lemmonex said...

My father had this old truck that had a bunch of buttons that didn't work. We would only use it for runs to the dump, etc. So, when I would sit in the passenger seat--no seat belt on, natch--he would speed up when we were coming to a bump, push the button, and tell me he was making the truck fly as we caught air.

paul said...

If I've got to be eaten by an animal at the Zoo, I'd rather it be one of the Big Cats. Maybe a clouded leopard.

Zipcode said...

Chocalate Milk comes from Brown Cows.

The Moon is made of cheese.

Shannon said...

Lemmonex - But what would he have told you if you'd hit your head on the ceiling? "Don't worry, honey, brain damage only happens to boys"?

Paul - You wouldn't want to be cuted to death by a big panda?

Zip - Ah, cheese and brown cows, the perennial Daddy Favorites!

Arjewtino said...

My friend's dad used to watch Charlie Brown with him on TV and would laugh out loud whenever the adults on the show "spoke".

He would ask his dad, "Why are you laughing?", to which he would tell them, "You can't understand what they're saying? I guess only adults understand it."

LivitLuvit said...

My father didn't lie so much as read me stories about little girls getting snatched by predators and tell me it would happen to me if I ever talked to a stranger, EVER. Now that's love.

Shannon said...

Arjew - Ha! That's sort of cute, in a sick way.

Shannon said...

Liv - Did he also greet your prom date by sitting on your front porch with a shotgun?

bh said...

I told my 7 year old that video games would literally rot his mind (because I don't want to buy a Wii yet).

He came trundling out of his friends house two weeks ago and told me that he played x box and his mind is find, so it's "k now to get a x box"


ugh.

LivitLuvit said...

Eh. He was more of a silent, get-em-with-the-crazy-eyes kinda guy. While watching golf and not looking at them at all. But I'm sure they felt it.

Shannon said...

BH - Take him in for a brain scan! Then have the doctor lie, too.

Liv - My dad was so happy to see another male in the house he'd get all excited and forget to be a badass.

whosyadaddy said...

My dad read me the 'sex' chapter of the encyclopedia in a rather awkward manner. Sadly, he seemed to learn quite a bit himself as he was reading. Once I tried some followup questions, he stalled and then just ran away. It leads me to believe my real father could be out there somewhere.

Shannon said...

WYD - Ha! Personally, I sprang full-grown from my father's head. Like Athena.

Dave W. said...

I am a Dad and I have a six year old and a four year old. Like all six year old boys, mine is obsessed with matters fecal. He loves to say "poo" and then laugh and laugh and laugh.

One day, I got so fed up with it I turned to him and said, "every time you say that word, baby Jesus cries."

Shannon said...

Dave - But, the Baby Jesus really DOES cry! Right?