Weve all thought about it at one time or another: Should I have a conversation with my dad? There are many cases for and against, and in the end, it is a deeply personal decision that we each must make for ourselves.
Sometimes, we talk to him because we need something. Other times, we talk to him because we feel guilty that we havent talked to him in a while. Or maybe its a third thing.
So, are you ready to have a conversation with your dad?
Okay, you are definitely ready to have a conversation with your dad. But first, you have to find him.
Hmm. Nope, not here.
You are shocked not to find your dad in the kitchen, a place he can often be found.
No dads here on the patio.
You walk into your dads office building.
Oh, you must be Dads kid, says your dads boss, Mrs. Clakswaby. Hes not here right now.
There he is! Of course your dad is in the den.
Here he is! Your dad! Time to see if you can keep up a conversation with him. Hes even taking a break from his beloved iPad to talk to you.
What do you want to talk about?
Your dad blinks a few times. Looks like hes getting a little steamed. Better hurry up and figure out what you want to say about the weather!
Sure, your dad says.
Whoa! Kind of a curveball there.
Why, I think thats a marvelous idea, says Mrs. Clakswaby. You can start right away! Have these flowers in congratulations.
You may have never spoken with your dad, but you did land a plum job with a six-figure salary and health benefits, which is better!
The American Civil War? your dad grunts. That is one of my favorite civil wars.
Whoa! Looks like maybe youve found some common ground here, so what you say next is crucial.
186,500, your dad says immediately.
Hmmm. That didnt seem to really spark a conversation.
I think its best if you changed the subject, your dad says.
You want advice? your dad says. Or do you want to talk about the concept of advice?
Oh, okay, your dad says. Advice is a social contract in which a person, or group of people, offer their analysis and insights in an attempt to solve or mitigate a problem of a second party. The second party can ask for, or request, these insights, or the first person or group can offer them unsolicited. Both of these outcomes would be considered to fall in the category of advice. Shall I continue?
Very well, your dad says. The concept of advice is perhaps best illuminated by an example. Let me bring up a helpful illustration Ive made on my iPad.
In a common advice-seeking scenario, Person A approaches Person B and Person C, who are typically older and have more life experience than Person A. Person A lays out a conflict he or she is currently experiencing and then asks Persons B and C what they would do if they were presented with an identical conflict. Person B says that he would do one thing, while Person C says she would do a different thing. Both of these suggestions, while opposite in nature, are considered advice. The fact that one word describes both of them is an inherent foible of language. Shall I continue?
Very well. The concept of advice relies heavily on the theory of linear time, or that time passes sequentially. Linear time theory is what enables events to occur, and therefore what allows events to have occured. It is these events that have already taken place that allow older, wiser people to give advice, because they draw on these past experiences, guaranteed by the theory of linear time. Shall I continue?
You notice that your head feels a little funny and that blood has begun to pool in your eyes.
Want to talk about Matchstick Men (2003)? you ask your dad.
Never heard of it, he says.
Uh-oh. That didnt go so hot. What do you want to do now?
It stars Sam Rockwell, you say.
Never heard of him, your Dad says.
Yikes. You are really blowing this.
Its a movie, you say to your dad.
Never heard of it, your dad says.
This is turning out to be a notably bad conversation with your dad.
Its a series of still images that are strung together in rapid succession to achieve the illusion of motion, typically for 90 minutes to two hours.
No idea what youre talking about, says your dad.
Its basically but your dad cuts you off.
Look at these seeds in my hand, he says.
You look up.
Youre not my dad, you say.
No, Im not, the man says. We switched places while you were looking at the seeds.
Looks like you blew it!
If you do find your dad, make sure to tell him that I understand, and that Im sorry, Mrs. Clakswaby says.
Where do you want to look now?
Okay, your dad says. But just be warned that I hate giving and taking advice.
Wish I could say the same, your dad says as he walks away. The den is empty.
You did a bad job keeping up a conversation with your dad!
Okay, your dad says, admiring his iPad. What do you want to talk about now?
Thats an odd way to put that, your dad says.
It looks like he could leave this conversation at any moment. Better step up your game!
Oh, your dad says. Yes, that sounds good. Thank you.
He takes a peanut from your hand and eats it happily.
Yes, your dad practically shouts. Please give me another peanut.
Your dads eyes light up with greed in a way youve never seen them look before. He grabs the peanuts from your hand and knocks your bag of peanuts to the floor. Finding his hunger uncontrollable, he drops to the floor to scoop up the peanuts, shells and all, into his selfish mouth. He makes animal noises and slobbers all over the rug in the den.
By offering him peanuts while asking for nothing in return, you taught your dad that boundaries do not exist, nor must they be respected. Now, you have no hope of holding a conversation with your dad.
Ive always thought that too, your dad says. You know, its really easy to talk to you.
Whoa! Things are going great! Can you keep this up?
Took the words from my mouth, your dad says. If you ever want to borrow my iPad, you feel free.
Your dad loves tablet computing, so thats a big deal! Youre quite the dad conversation hotshot! Can you bring it home?
Okay, your dad says. Just dont come crawling to me if you want the concept of advice explained again.
Maracas? your dad says. Now were talking!
A lengthy and interesting conversation about maracas ensues.
Okay, so you technically kept up a conversation with your dad, but you used the tried-and-true shortcut of abruptly bringing up maracas, which is essentially akin to cheating.
Try again, and do it with dignity this time.
You lie down on your belly and begin to sneak toward your dad. Without turning around, he begins talking to you.
You cant sneak up on me, he says. In Vietnam, I was in charge of shooting at people.
You throw a rock to create a diversion for some reason. Your dad, without turning around, sticks out his hand and snags the rock out of midair. He crushes it in his fist.
Pipe down, your dad says, standing up. Im right here.
Its good, your dad says. More of the same.
Yeah, your dad says. He coughs errantly. Whats new with you?
Ah, good. Now you can stop using our HBO password. Haha.
There is a short silence. Your dad scratches his nose a bit.
Your dad continues to not say anything.
Yeah, your dad says. They didnt look great, but a win is a win, I guess. You watch it?
Oh, man. This is brutal.
Thats a good point, says your dad. I didnt think about it like that.
Dear God, why would you say that? your dad says, recoiling in horror. You know very well that they are dead and that they meant quite a lot to me. You are a horrible person.
Your dad galumphs away.
Wow. Why would you do that to your own father? Looks like you blew it pretty bad.
Very well. An issue with linear time is that it can only guarantee the present. Therefore, Person B can remember past events (which he or she can draw on to give advice), but the memories exist only in the present. The events themselves are not accessible, and cannot be 100 percent guaranteed to have existed; only the recalling of the event can be said to exist, merely because it is happening in the present. Shall I continue?
You notice that your headache has intensified and that blood is still pooling in your eyes, clouding your vision. These are classic aneurysm symptoms, just FYI.
Very well. This phenomena can potentially lead to a false memory, or a memory that the advice-giver thinks is genuine but is actually untrue. This means that the advice may actually be bad, even if the intention is good. In this scenario, Person A will have to choose whether to accept or deny advice given to him or her by Persons B and C that is potentially based on flawed conclusions arrived at through inaccurate recollections. Shall I continue?
There is now an intense yet somehow distant throbbing in your head. Your vision is nearly clouded entirely with the significant amount of blood that has rushed into your corneas.
Liza, come here for a sec, you say to your sister.
Why? she says. The only time you ever talk to me is when you want me to stand in as a proxy for someone else so you can practice talking to them.