June 25th, 2024


Should a sense of humor be mandatory for fathers?

Danny Tyree

By Danny Tyree

Published June 11, 2024

Should a sense of humor be mandatory for fathers?

Some fathers are entirely too serious.

They're paranoid about their children finding out that they had their own youthful indiscretions and regrettable choices.

("I don't make mistakes. You can ask any of your six stepmoms.")

My late father ‘fessed up to his own errors in judgment, like when he was in the schoolyard and a classmate yelled to him from a second-story window to toss up some of the abundant hedge apples (a.k.a. Osage oranges) that littered the ground.

Just as the classmate accumulated an armload of the fruit for some immature plot, a teacher suddenly opened the door. Down went the fruit right on top of Dad. As the saying goes, the apple doesn't fall far from the cranium, elbow, spleen…

Another time, Dad and his cousin Bill amused themselves with the old string-tied-to-a-wallet gag. But one passerby spied them in hiding and cut the string, gaining a free wallet. Guess Dad and Bill didn't skip the extended warranty at the five-and-dime again!

When he was a little older, Dad was plowing in the hot sun. He brainstormed the bright idea of lying down in the spring to cool off. The shock of the contrast nearly killed him, which of course, would have set off a ripple in time affecting MY existence. Brrr. I suddenly felt someone plowing on my grave.

Adulthood did not stop Dad's impulsiveness. He particularly enjoyed good-natured pranks pulled on a slow-witted co-worker named Eric (or "EAR-ick," as everyone pronounced it). Once Dad invited, "Shake a leg, Eric." Eric obliged. "Now shake the other leg." Eric obliged again. Finallly, Dad suggested, "Now shake both legs." Eric gamely achieved some prototype of what would later be dubbed "hang time" — before falling flat on his keister.

But Dad's favorite Eric incident involved invading Eric's personal space with an accusatory inquiry of "Eric, what's this I hear about you slumbering in bed???"

Caught off-guard, all Eric could offer was a spluttered denial. ("It's a damn lie! Not in three years! Three years!")

Codger-hood did not see a decline in mischief. When the ad salesman for the local paper came by Dad's workplace to drum up business, Dad hit him up with a puzzle. ("When I was 40 years old, our bookkeeper was 10 – one-quarter of my age. When I was 45, she was 15 – or one-third my age. Now that I'm 60 and she's 30, she's half my age. When will we be the same age?")

The little gears started turning in the salesman's head as he counted on his fingers. He finally said, "I know there's an answer to this. Let me drop off some papers at the office and I'll be right back."

The salesman did not reappear until the next scheduled advertising spiel. And the matter of the bookkeeper's age went mercifully unmentioned.

If your father is still living, be sure to thank him for the fun he has brought to your life.

Me? I'll reminisce about the fellow who boasted of his new gazebo.

Dad faked a "sour grapes" demeanor and sighed, "I'm proud for you, but I wouldn't even know what to feed the darned thing!"

Thankfully, Dad's humor lives on in my son.

And for those of you quipping, "Guess these things skip a generation," I've got a big pile of hedge apples and a warmed-up pitching arm…


Controversial author Harlan Ellison once described the work of Mr. Tyree as "wonkily extrapolative" and said his mind "works like a demented cuckoo clock." Tyree generated a particular buzz on the Internet with his column spoofing real-life Christian nudist camps. A lifelong small-town southerner, he graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications.

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