Yes, that’s right. It’s my birthday.
All in all, it’s been a better birthday than I typically get. I’ll be flying out to Las Vegas today to attend Pubcon 2008, the conference for webmasters.
You know, a lot of people hate the term “webmaster.” I’ve always been kind of fond of it. It sounds vaguely mystical. As if I might be waiting outside someone’s cubicle in a kimono, samurai sword slung over my back, saying “When you can take the thumb drive from my hand, Grasshopper, you too, will have mastered the web…”
We usually have a shared birthday party for my dad and me, as his birthday is two days before mine. This year was no exception.
So anyway, I was sitting next to Dad watching Soul Plane (don’t ask), and I caught the latest Ask.com commercial.
I’ve always liked Ask, in sort of the same way some folks always vote for Ralph Nader. Sure, he’s got no shot of beating any of the other competitors, but you have to admire the chutzpah it takes to keep trying anyway. Anyway, their new television and radio spots are focusing on the idea of answering whatever nagging questions you might have.
So anyway, I perk up to catch the search engine commercial, and it gets to the part where a young man in a pet shop asks “Do monkeys make good pets?”
My dad responded, emphatically, out loud, “No, they do not!” in a tone of voice that says unmistakeably this is the voice of experience speaking.
Every head in the room turned to Dad, and every face in the room wore an identical “WTH?” expression.
Of all the people I know, the last one I would have expected to be able to answer the burning “Do monkeys make good pets?” question from personal experience would be my dad. He grew up in a town of less than 175 in central Kentucky, and worked for decades as a union sheet metal worker after getting his GED in the Army. He can, in the words of a former coworker “weld anything but the crack of dawn or a broken heart.” He’s created some really amazing street rods in his lifetime. He’s a very good bass angler.
And apparently, an experienced monkey wrangler.
When pressed for an explanation, he told us that he and his buddies in Vietnam had a pet monkey, and that a guy he’d known well in Monterey had one when he was a kid.
“Monkeys are not good pets,” he said, shaking his head, and that was the end of the conversation.
I’m sure there are some valuable life lessons in all this. About how sometimes it’s the people we think we know best who surprise us the most. Or how sometimes the answers to the most obscure questions in life are closer than we think.
But mostly I think I just need to set Dad up with a ChaCha account. Who knows what other hard-earned wisdom he’s been hiding all these years?