Once upon a time - in the not too distant past - while presenting dad with his Fathers Day gifts, dad picked up a wrapped box - holding it next to his forehead (a la Johnny Carson's Karnack) my dad made a guess at his gift, "Plaid or plain." My sisters and I, who until then were beside ourselves with excitement at having dad open his presents, were crestfallen. The gift, a pair of golf shorts, were, in fact, plaid. And so was born the family joke, uttered at every gift opening event ... plaid or plain.
Mercifully for my mother, she no longer has to worry about what gifts 'the girls' are going to get for Dad; I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to come up with several gift ideas, back when she had to help us pick out Dad's gifts. He is as difficult to shop for as he is to cook for - raspberry pie, Aunt Florence's rye bread and rice krispie treats not withstanding. If you buy him a jacket, he might enjoy it as long as the sleeves aren't too tight around the wrist and the collar is soft enough - sweatshirts can't be too baggy and knit shirts need to be the perfect weight. Which probably explains why he has enough hankerchiefs to last to the middle of the century.
My dad has coined a number of 'ism's' that are now family legend from "I wouldn't walk down the street for this" (describing the main entree at Easter Brunch) to "plaid or plain." I inherited my father's sense of humor, being at ease in new situations, love of Big Band era music (especially Sinatra) and a touch of clairvoyant.
Happy Plaid Father's Day Dad ... plain just isn't in your vocabulary.
photo in possession of Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski; Bergeron Family Papers
Copyright © 2008 by Cindy Scherwinski