My old man is one hip, hip dude.
I didn’t always think this way. No kid growing up thinks of their parents as cool. I knew my father worked hard; I knew he loved his family; I knew he loved music and being outside in the wilderness and joking around.
But when I started entering my twenties and leaving those awkward, self-absorbed teenaged years behind (who’s kidding who – I’m still self absorbed and awkward. I just hide it better now), I began to notice things about my dad that made me wonder if he was in fact, cooler than me. Let’s get this straight, I thought I was pretty fucking cool in my twenties. It took some hard lessons and a number of girls breaking up with me to finally convince me I wasn’t that cool or special. But I do still like to think, old and crotchety as I am now, that I still have some cool left in me.
But I was starting to realize that my old man had a shit load more cool in him. For example, when he came to visit me in Australia, we toured up and down the coast and when I expected us to have a beer together most nights and pack it in for an early morning, he would constantly be the one still rocking at 2am when I was ready for bed. I remember a guy we were hanging out with at a hostel rooftop party saying he wished his dad would do something besides watch television and drink his Tom Collins. My dad was never known for watching much tv.
And then there were the live shows he’d take us to. My favourite was the time he bought my brothers and I tickets to see the Dropkick Murphys in Boston on St Patrick’s Day. Can anyone say bucketlist? We started going to the TURF festival in Toronto every summer and that became a highlight for me, too.
And even the times that I’ve been able to stay up later than him on a canoe trip and tell him I’ll turn the music down so he can sleep, he is famously known for replying: “Dont’ turn it down…turn it up!”
So while I’d like to think I still got a little cool in me, my old man’s got more.
We just celebrated his 70th birthday party this past weekend and he pretty much solidified what I’d been thinking for the last decade. When he came to me and said he wanted to throw a big party for his big day, I thought – cool! And when he said he wanted to rent a big concert hall and invite some of his friends (130), I thought – very cool! And when he said that he was going to book the best funk/reggae band I know, a band called The Responsables from Toronto, I thought – holy f–k that’s cool!
And he did it. They came and played two hand-waving, sweat-producing sets that included crowd favourites like The Controller, covers like Pretty Woman (my old man loves Roy), some Marley tunes, and of course, an a capella birthday song to toast the man of the hour: my pops.
It takes a certain kind of man to pull off a party like that at the ripe, young age of 70. Of course that type of music isn’t going to appeal to everyone of that demographic. Sure some people would have preferred some adult contemporary or soft jazz, and there’s nothing wrong with those genres (well, maybe adult contemporary) but they’re just not my old man’s bag. He’s a rocker. Always has been. He won’t slow down; he can’t. I’m already looking forward to his 80th birthday party. Maybe he can get the lead singer of The Responsables, Ben Harris, to reunite his old punk/ska band, Clock Strikes.
To segue beautifully from that thought, when the clock struck midnight and the band wound things down and packed up, they all headed to my place for an after party.
When I arrived there to start doling out beers to those who made it, who showed up carrying a cooler full of beer? You guessed it. My old man. He wasn’t going to miss an after party for his own birthday. He carried a full cooler for blocks to make sure there was enough beer for everyone. Because that’s what makes him the coolest above all else – his concern for others.
He’s one selfless dude and that’s what’s really cool about him.
Written by Jesse Wilkinson