Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ol' Dad's Advice

My wife and I recently returned home from our annual anniversary getaway weekend.  In the mail that had accumulated in our absence was a contest promotional from a regional business.  It was one of those scratch and play deals, where if you match three icons, you win.  Well, I scratched away and sure enough I matched three $25000 icons.  The sheet claimed I was a certain winner, although there was an asterisk following this proclamation. But even after reading the fine print, it seemed I had really won.  After fifty-plus years my ship appeared to have finally come in; perhaps lady luck was giving a wink to this old luckless Kokko.  It was Sunday, so I put the document aside to pursue on Monday.

As the day wore on, though, I kept thinking about how I was going to spend the twenty-five grand--well, actually the twelve grand after taxes.  Then I recalled a piece of sage advice that was part of a trilogy of wisdom nuggets my Dad had passed on to me the day I left home for the last time.  He said, "There's no such thing as a free lunch."  I related this to my wife, who then went on the internet to see if anyone had posted anything about the company or its promotion.  Sure enough, the business had played this game before in another city.  A winner in that contest was awarded a fifty dollar gift certificate, which she later learned was really only worth five dollars.  When she complained they told her the contest had ended and all prizes were non-negotiable. My Dad's wisdom and my wife's cool objectivity rescued us from a lot of wasted time and the embarrassment of looking like rubes.

Perhaps you are curious about the remaining two pearls of wisdom my Dad had left me all those many years ago.  Some people--mostly my mother--have been a bit put off by the colorful manner by which my father packaged his little gems.  But even this shows how wise my father is; after all, one will probably forget, "You don't get anything for nothing," but will almost certainly remember, "There's no such thing as a free lunch!"

According to my mother's sensibilities, my Dad's other two pieces of advice to his parting son are not fitting for any child with any breeding.  By today's standards--if you can call them that--they pretty much read PG.

Dad had actually introduced me to the first when I was in high school, years before my famous send off.  We had gone to a small shopping mall near our home, that day.  As we entered the mall we passed by a sixties-something woman, who was holding a shopping bag and a purse, and standing by the front doors, apparently waiting for someone.  Coincidental with this my Dad blurted (I don't remember what we had been talking about) out loud, "Yeah, you don't want to be a closet drunk."  Well, as it happened, a short while later we passed through the same set of doors and the same woman still waiting for whoever, when my Dad offered, quite for all to hear, what would become the first of his famous canon of wisdom:  "Well, just remember to save your money and buy good bourbon!"  The poor woman was noticeably appalled that a father would teach his young son (I looked like I was ten in high school) such horrid things.  But I have never forgotten what he taught me that day, and I bet you won't forget it, either.

What was the third piece of the trilogy, you ask?  Well, he told me, "And, son, always pay your poker debts."  It's perhaps not as poetic as Shakespeare's "Neither a borrower, nor a lender be," but it sure hits you right in the gut--don't you think?