No matter how much mothers want their children’s love to be totally and completely theirs alone, little girls love their daddies more. I say this, from experience, since I was unabashedly a daddy’s girl. He was irresistible. Six-feet tall, wavy blonde hair and sparkling hazel eyes—At twenty, my mother was totally smitten—at a few minutes old, so was I. Dave (also known as Daddy) was birthday cake for the eyes-a wonder to behold, but even today, in the time of selfies and the worship of NordicTrack-- looking good alone isn’t enough to win a daughter’s love for a lifetime. He captivated me with his charm.
My father was the most entertaining man on earth –not merely compared to other fathers, but including comedians and talk show hosts. If you think Jimmy Fallon is the funniest entertainer ever—it’s because you never met my dad. There wasn’t a party, Masonic Hall gathering, business meeting, or barbeque where he wasn’t the center of attention. I need only to scout out a circle of laughing adults to find him holding court-he was that funny. There wasn’t a joke he didn’t make funnier with his imitations or stage presence. There wasn’t a bring-down-the-house quip that he didn’t have right at the tip of his tongue. If I had a dollar for every time I heard his friends say, “Dave, tell that story about…,” I would have enough to feed every starving child…twice.
It’s hard not to worship the man who owns the room, even my friends were entranced. One evening my schoolmate Grace stayed for dinner. Over chocolate milk, Dad told a G rated joke that had her laughing till brown bubbles dripped from her nose, (which made us laugh even more). The next day, Grace told everyone at school about the fun she had at my house—making me the most popular second grader that year. Being the heir to the King of Thatford Avenue was like handing my platinum Amex to the rest of the neighborhood. I was welcomed everywhere—from the shoe repair shop, where Mr. Graffinino gave me free rubber heels to play hopscotch (called potsies in Brooklyn) to Mr. Bloom’s candy store where Mrs. Bloom double scooped my ice cream cones.)
With a voice, clear and strong and a genuine affection for his fellow man, my dad’s appeal was universal. Unfortunately, his star rose before cell phones and iPads. By the time cassette tapes were popular, Dad was gone. With the passing years, the recollection of his voice has disappeared making my memories of him play back like silent movies.
Recently, I ran into a family friend from the old neighborhood who was a young woman when I was a child. Her silver hair and leathery cheeks reminded me how many years had passed. “Your father,” she took my hand in hers. “He sure made this world a better place.” Perhaps it’s just a hope, but I believe somewhere in heaven, there’s a circle of angels saying, “Dave, tell that story about….” And there’s my dad making Paradise even better.