Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dad’s slogan deserves a hot handmade card

Every good dad has a tagline, or some phrase he can call his own even if he doesn’t know it. These slogans are said frequently and with such vigor that they inevitably become part of that person.
My Grandfather must have told me 5,000 times to “eat slow and eat a lot.” In fact he’s still telling me, and I’m still eating more than my fair share, at a reasonable pace. My father’s catchphrase was a little less instructive. He must have told me 5,000,000 times that I was “letting out the BTU’s.”
Whether it was door or a window in the house or the car, if it was open and it wasn’t a balmy 70 degrees outside I was loudly informed that I was “letting out the BTU’s!”
“Do you know what a BTU is?” he’d impatiently ask.
“Nope,” I’d answer, thinking that if I switched the letters around a little it’d be rather funny to be letting them out.
“British Thermal Unit,” he’d remind me, as if it was a shocker that I didn’t know. “It’s a unit of heat equal to the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. Got it?”
“Sure, dad,” I’d say under rolling eyes, as if a seven year-old girl really cared about a pound of water or had any concept of what one degree was. All I knew was that it was either hot enough or cold enough to warrant some good outdoor playtime, and I really didn’t care if I left the door open a little too long.
The temperature of our home and car was always very important to my father. He is very particular about the thermostat mostly because he hates to sweat, and it seems his body is programmed to start sweating profusely at 67 degrees.
My mother, however, is a lover of heat and all things warm, and has a special fondness for the smell of summer. I’m sure it’s probably a male vs. female thing and not unique to my family because ingenious inventions have arisen out of the constant “cold vs. hot” battle. Temperature zones and seat heaters in new cars are very clever, and flannel pajamas designed with springy colors work well for the freezing wife in summer.
Growing up my mom had a great way of dealing with my dad’s insistence on the air conditioning that practically had icicles on the mantle in July. We had very specific instructions. Not two minutes after his Mercury left the driveway, we’d run around the house, flinging open every door and window, letting in the hot summer air, so thick you could almost sit on it.
To stay cool we played in the sprinkler, drank our weight in Kool-Aid, and enjoyed the occasional frozen treat. We were free to run in and out of the house as we pleased, slamming screen doors and yelling through windows…until 3:30. It was then time to shut things up and crank on the A/C.
Most of the time it worked quite well, but I’m sure my dad always wondered why the utility bill was so high. Occasionally he’d come home for lunch or surprisingly early and find, to his great dismay, a warm summer breeze wafting through his house.
There was no “hi honey, I’m home!” There was no “Daddy’s home!” There was simply, “you’re letting out the BTU’s!” which was really not a true statement because the BTU’s had been turned off since he left the house at 7:15AM.
Now I’ve got my own house, and while my husband doesn’t have quite the sweating potential as my father, I still find myself dreading to turn on the air conditioning. I’d much rather hear the hum of a fan and not wear flannel PJs.
But that doesn’t mean that valuable lesson hasn’t been engrained in my head. That’s why this year for Father’s Day my dad is getting a handmade card. The front will look exactly like a door, or maybe a window. And when he opens the card, it’ll simply say “Happy Father’s Day! You’re letting out the BTU’s.” and well, he’ll just have to close it before anything gets out.

What's your dad's slogan? I'd love to hear about it! And happy Father's Day to deserving dads everywhere!

1 comments:

BECKY said...

Oh Karrie! What a funny and sweet story! I loved it...and you are soooo creative, with your card for your dad!!

Since my dad wasn't around very many years, I'll have to really think a bit, to see if I can remember any phrases of his.

One more funny thing....when I was in school, and we were learning about BTU's in class...one of the more creative girls came up with her own definition, which I obviously still remember today! She said, "BTU's stands for: Baby Thermal Underwear!!"

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