Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lessons From Flammable Briefcases

In honor of my dad's life, which both started and ended this month many many years ago, I'm sharing a funny story that also taught me several huge life lessons.  He was a hilarious man who most definitely had unique ways of getting his message across.

I was in 3rd grade and my book bag had broken to the point that I couldn't use it at all.  Back in those days, 3rd graders didn't have much homework, if any at all, but a cool backpack was a status symbol.  It couldn't be those babyish ones with the cute little sparkly pics on them anymore because when you're in 3rd grade you're so grown up that you are practically old enough to vote!  It also couldn't be those boring one tone brown or green colored ones that the college kids (who also happened to be my sisters) used.  I still haven't figured out what the hell was wrong with those people, and why in the world would one choose such a boring style for their bag when they could have a totally kick ass New Kids on the Block bag or something as equally cool.  Anyway, mine was broken and I had nothing.  You might as well have thrown me out on the streets and made me eat from dumpsters for as low as I felt.  I was positive that everyone would think I was homeless.  I couldn't even afford a bag, or at least I was convinced that is how it appeared to my fellow classmates (who actually never even noticed that I didn't have one and no one really cared, but that's beside the point!!).  I begged my parents all weekend to take me book bag shopping.  I don't remember exactly what the excuses where that came out of their mouths, but in reality, they would miss out on some killer episodes of Gun Smoke (boooooriiiiing) or M*A*S*H* (which I secretly loved because I wanted to be "Hot Lips" Houlihan) and some quality quilt making time.

"Hot Lips" Houlihan ~ My secret 3rd grade idol

5:00 p.m. rolled around that Monday evening, and my dad walked in the door like he always did.  He took big man footsteps up the stairs and vvvvvvuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupppppp pulled his belt out of his belt loops which, in some households freaked kids out, but I was never beat with a belt or anything else for that matter, so this action had a significantly safe feeling for me.  It meant my dad was home and everything was right with my little world again except on this day, which still lacked a backpack. . . He flipped it across the iron railing with a taaaaaa-paang from the buckle hitting the iron and announced, "Punkadoooooooo (that's me), I have a surpriiiiiiise for yoooooooooooooooooou!!"  I skipped and jumped and shouted yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay as I grabbed the unassuming sack.  I was soooo excited as I opened up the surprise to reveal. . . . . a weird, fake brownish plasticy, vinalish flat briefcase??  Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat the heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell was THIS SHIT?!  (I don't think I said that, although it wouldn't have been frowned upon in certain situations as my dad was a realist who called things like he saw them.)  "Dad? *eyes big and sad with lip quivering* what's this for?"  Don't tell me!   Pleeeease don't tell me it's. . . . "Well?  What's it look like?  It's your new school bag!"  OMG, he told me what I didn't want to hear, and he said it in such a way that I KNEW he was sooooo proud of himself.  Everything about him was smiling and laughing ~ his eyes, his mouth, even his ears were perky!!  I. . . . WAS. . . . PISSED!!  Oh no he di-ent!!  I overly dramatically yelled and cried at the same time, "I'M IN 3RD GRADE!!  EVERYONE WILL LAUGH AT ME!! WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!"  I threw the gift across the room and ran down the hall to my bedroom and slammed the door.  *over dramatic CLICK* I locked the door.  I would NEVER come out again!  He would be sorry when he didn't see me for 10 years!!  Little did I know that I'd be the sorry one.  Not only didn't I understand that it was just a joke, but my overreaction didn't do anything except piss him right off!  Waaaaait for it . . . waaaaaait for it. . .

At least if it was this cool, I could just pass it off as being awesome and like I totally meant to use a briefcase as a school bag.

But, nope, it was similar to this.  Even the Internet was too grossed out to put a pic of the real thing on it.
I didn't spend the next 10 years of my life in my bedroom getting even with my dad.  I came out for supper about 30 minutes later and spent the rest of the night playing and drawing and putting on 12 pairs of socks under a pair of pantyhose so I could fit into my sister's super awesome blue silky high heels.  I was getting closer to looking like Hot Lips Hulihan by the day!!    I just knew she'd love my shoes. . . and my homemade cankles (yep, that's what it looks like when you put on 12 pairs of socks and cover them with pantyhose).  It may have looked like I had a severe case of ankle edema, but I was feelin it!! 

What's NOT hot about this?!  
Dad came home Tuesday evening and went through the same comforting routine that he did every night when he got home.  *vuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupp and ta-piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing* "Punky, I got you a real school bag this time!"  Excited again, I raced to the same looking unassuming bag as yesterday and opened it up with joy because surely he wouldn't do it to me twice in a row. . . even though I never apologized for my previous day's behavior because I totally wasn't even remotely sorry for freaking out. I should have already known, but you know what they say about hind-sight.  I pulled out the same freaking fake plastic, pleathery looking, set it on fire and it'll instantly melt to whatever is closest to it, diamond pop open briefcase.  ARE YOU FREAKING SERIOUS WITH THIS CRAP?!  I just looked at him and cried and dropped it on the floor again.  This time his face was more demonic looking as he smiled.  He was teaching me a lesson, and I sure as HELL was going to learn it before I was getting anything that even remotely resembled a real book bag!  The same crap happened for about 2 more days until he finally announced that I was ungrateful and bratty and most definitely couldn't take a joke.  I'm still not sure which was the worst offence out of the three. I felt like a dumbass for my bawl baby behavior and at the same time still appalled yet humored by the thought that he threw his own man sized temper tantrum by making me relive the briefcase experience for so many days in a row to teach me what?  I should have said, "Oooooh an awesome, plasticy, flammable, briefcase!!  I LOVE IT!  There are starving kids in Africa who will never have a plasticy, flammable, briefcase!  I'm so grateful for mine!  I'll love it and pet it and cherish it always!"  If I only would have known that saying that was the key to a REAL book bag that first night *head shmuck*!  I apologized for being a dramatic, ungrateful, bawl baby, and I seriously meant it.  I felt soooo stupid for my behavior.  Thank goodness the only people who saw it were my parents!  I got a super cool book bag after my apology, and I have no memory of what it even looked like. It must have been awesome though because I didn't throw any tantrums about it.  I remember those briefcases though, that's for sure!! 

My dad was a wonderful, loving and super funny man who also had a tendency of throwing weirdly unique, big daddy tantrums if you rubbed him the wrong way which usually only happened when someone was being an ungrateful, wiener, bawl baby (adults included).  He would HATE Rush Limbaugh because he's king of the whiny wiener fan club!  Anyway, as hard to believe as it is, I most definitely learned some lessons from this episode.  First, don't take life seriously.  It would be super funny for a 3rd grader to use a plasticy, flammable briefcase and definitely don't throw a tantrum about it if it isn't your bag, baby.  Second, be grateful for what you have.  It could be taken away from you in a heartbeat.  I'm not referring to my super cool briefcase collection (which is still somewhere at my mom's. . . stay tuned for pics!  I WILL find them!).  I'm referring to my dad.  He's been gone for 18 years, and I still miss him like crazy! Third, be respectful to others.  You never really know what their motives are.  Fourth, toughen up!  Nothing is worth storming through life being angry or tantrumy plus it makes you look like a wiener and a dumbass!  I could write a novel on all of the lessons my dad taught me in life.  I am truly blessed to have the family that I do!  Miss you loads and love you tons, Dad!  Catch ya on the flip flop! 


  1. Your fb doesn't allow any messages!

    1. I'm waiting for your book on your dad's life lessons, Miranda. ;-D

      Great family story!

  2. It sounds like you did learn some great lessons from this time. I hope you do find pictures of this awesome sounding briefcase. :)

  3. Hey Miranda! You are hilarious! You always keep me smiling or laughing through your entire post. I'm back on FB, but can't find you, so hope you'll friend me. Keep up the funny-as-hell blogging!

  4. Hey, it's me. Uhm... you know, me? Okay I'm trying to figure out a way to work the phrase "schweer" in here but it isn't springing to mind... um... sounds like a SCHWEER plastic briefcase you had there! That'll work...?

    ANYway, it brought to mind the memory of when I was in 7th grade and got my first pair of glasses. The next Monday when I was wearing glasses for the FIRST TIME EVAH at school, I took one of my dad's old well-worn briefcases to use as a bookbag, for... kitsch? I don't remember why, but I thought it would be hilarious. Every kid at school asked about the briefcase first.
    Other Kid: Why are you carrying a briefcase?
    Me: (some prepared hilarious reply I can no longer remember)
    Other Kid: Are the glasses real?
    Me: YES! HA!

    Did I ever mention I was a weird kid?? Anyway... kinda hoping to hear the story of the BROKEN FOOT on here some time soon?!?! (See what I did there? Totally peer pressured you on your own blog! YES! HA!)