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Authors: Justin Halpern

Tags: #Humor, #General

Sh*t My Dad Says

BOOK: Sh*t My Dad Says
13.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Sh*t My Dad Says

Justin Halpern

For my dad, mom, Dan, Evan, José, and Amanda
Thank you for all your love and support




Never Assume That Which You Do Not Know

A Man’s House Is His House

It’s Important to Behave Oneself

Do Not Be a Goddamned Liar

It’s Important to Know the Value of a Dollar

Not Everyone’s Balls Should Be Busted

Try Your Best, and When That’s Not Good Enough, Figure Something Out Quick

At the End of the Day, You Have to Make the Best Decision for Yourself

Confidence Is the Way to a Woman’s Heart, or at Least into Her Pants

Always Put Your Best Foot Forward

You Have to Believe You’re Worth a Damn

Focus on Living, Dying Is the Easy Part

Don’t Be So Quick to Buy into What Authority Prescribes

You Never Stop Worrying About Your Children

At the End of the Day, at Least You Have Family

Sometimes It’s Nice When People You Love Need You

You Have to Listen, and Don’t Ignore What You Hear


About the Author



About the Publisher


“All I ask is that you pick up your shit so you don’t leave your bedroom looking like it was used for a gang bang. Also, sorry that your girlfriend dumped you.”

When I was twenty-eight years old, I lived in Los Angeles and was in the third year of a long-distance relationship with my girlfriend, who lived in San Diego. Most Fridays I’d sit in traffic for three and a half hours as my 1999 Ford Ranger crawled 126 miles down the I-5 to San Diego. Every once in a while my car would decide to shut off its engine. Meanwhile, its radio was busted, so I only got one station, whose playlist seemed limited to songs from the burgeoning rapper Flo Rida. There’s nothing like merging onto a freeway only to have your engine stop, steering wheel lock, and a deejay scream, “And here’s MY MAN, Flo Rida, with his new hit ‘Right Round’! Let’s get this party started!”

In short, doing the long-distance thing was wearing on me. So when I received a job offer in May 2009 from that would allow me to work from anywhere, I jumped at the opportunity. I could move down to San Diego and live with my girlfriend. The only hitch in my plan was that my girlfriend was not as excited as I was. And by “not as excited,” I mean to say that when I showed up at her doorstep to deliver the good news in person, she broke up with me.

Driving away from her house, I realized that not only was I now single, I had no place to live since I had already told my landlord in Los Angeles that I was terminating my lease at the end of the month. Then my engine shut off. As I sat in my car vigorously trying to restart it, it dawned on me that the only people I knew in San Diego who might have room for me were my parents. My stomach started to tense up as I turned the key back and forth in the ignition. It also dawned on me that the family barbecuing on the deck of the house in front of which my car had stalled just might think I was a perv who’d pulled over to pleasure himself. Luckily my car started up within a minute and I sped off for my parents’ house.

The reason I had become so nervous so quickly was because asking my father for a favor is like arguing a case in front of the Supreme Court: You have to lay out the facts clearly, organize them into an argument, and cite precedents set in previous cases. Shortly after showing up unannounced at my parents’ modest three-bedroom house in our San Diego suburb, Point Loma, I was pleading my case before my parents in the living room. I cited
My Dad v. My Brother Daniel Halpern,
which led to my brother Dan living at home when he was twenty-nine and going through a “transitional phase.” About halfway through my argument, my dad cut me off.

“It’s fine. Jesus, you didn’t have to go through that whole bullshit song and dance. You know you can stay here. All I ask is that you pick up your shit so you don’t leave your bedroom looking like it was used for a gang bang,” he said. “Also, sorry that your girlfriend dumped you.”

The last time I had lived at home was ten years prior, during my sophomore year at San Diego State University. At the time, both my parents worked—my mother, as a lawyer for a nonprofit; and my father, in nuclear medicine at the University of California–San Diego—so I didn’t see them very often. Ten years later, my mom was still working full-time, but my seventy-three-year-old dad had retired and was around the house. All. Day. Long.

After my first night back home, I crawled out of bed at around 8:30 A.M. and set up my “office” (read: my laptop) in the living room, where my dad was watching TV, to begin writing my first column. Michael Jackson had just died, and I was working on a comic portraying Jesus overlooking the pedophile charges against Michael Jackson and letting him into Heaven anyway, because he was such a fan of the King of Pop. (My editor later pointed out that it should have been Saint Peter ushering M.J. through the gates of Heaven, but that’s beside the point.) My dad had a hard time understanding that someone sitting in his pajamas and searching through Google images for silly pictures of Jesus Christ was working. So he treated me like I wasn’t.

“Why the fuck is Wolf Blitzer talking to me about Michael Jackson?” he barked. “The president is in fucking Russia trying to get those sons of bitches to stop with the nukes, and he’s talking to me about Michael Jackson? Fuck you, Wolf Blitzer!”

Every so often throughout the rest of the day, my dad would get fired up about something, bound into the living room from the kitchen or front yard or wherever he’d been, and shout something like, “Are you putting ketchup on that hamburger I made you?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Why? What the fuck do you mean,
? That’s a gourmet hamburger. This ain’t some horseshit you cook. I spent time on that. Next time, I make shit for you.”

It was good to be home.

For as long as I’ve known him, my father has been a blunt individual. When I was little, I mostly felt terrified of him, so I couldn’t appreciate that I was dealing with the least passive-aggressive human being on the planet. Now, as an adult, all day long I dealt with people—friends, coworkers, relatives—who never really said what they were thinking. The more time I spent with my dad in those first couple months back home, the more grateful I started to feel for the mixture of honesty and insanity that characterized his comments and personality.

One day I was on a walk with him and my dog, Angus, who was sniffing around in a bush outside a neighbor’s house. My dad turned to me and said, “Look at the dog’s asshole.”

“What? Why?”

“You can tell by the dilation of his asshole that he’s going to shit soon. See. There it goes.”

It was at that moment, as my dog emptied his bowels in my neighbor’s yard and my dad stood there proudly watching his prediction come true, that I realized how wise, even prophetic, he really is.

I took that quote and posted it as my instant messenger away status that evening. And every day after that, I’d take one funny remark my dad said and use it to update my status. When one of my friends suggested I create a Twitter page to keep a record of all the crazy things that come out of his mouth, I started “Shit My Dad Says.” For about a week, I had only a handful of followers—a couple friends who knew my dad and thought he was a character. Then one day I woke up to find that a thousand people were following me. The next day, ten thousand. Then fifty thousand. Then one hundred, two hundred, three hundred thousand, and suddenly a picture of my dad’s face and his quotes were popping up everywhere. Literary agents were calling, wanting to represent me; TV producers were inviting me onto their shows; and reporters were asking for interviews.

My first thought was: This is not good. The emotion that followed can only be described as sheer panic.

To illustrate how much my father hates any kind of public attention, let me share his opinion of contestants who compete on
My dad’s a well-read, educated guy, and one evening when I was watching
he strolled into the living room and correctly answered every question Alex Trebek posed. “Dad, you should totally go on
” I said.

“Are you fucking kidding me? Look at those people. They have no fucking respect for themselves. No dignity. Going on a reality show like that, it sickens me.”

I knew I had to tell my dad that I had been posting his quotes and quips online and now had publishers and TV studios interested in adaptations of the material. But before I did, I figured I’d call my oldest brother, Dan, with the hope that he would tell me I was blowing the situation out of proportion and that our dad would be fine with it.

“Holy shit, you did what?” Dan said to me, in between giant belly laughs. “Dude, Dad is going to—I don’t even know what Dad’s going to do. You better be prepared to leave his house. Like, if I were you, I’d pack up my stuff beforehand, fugitive-style. Only important belongings that can be carried with one arm.”

I decided to take a walk around the block and gather my thoughts before I confronted my father. A walk around the block turned into a few miles around the block, and as I was finally heading back toward the house an hour later, I spotted him sitting on our front porch looking like he was in a good mood. I figured it was now or never.

“Hey, Dad, I have to tell you something…weird,” I said, tentatively sidling up next to him on a nearby deck chair.

“You have to tell me something weird, huh? What is weird that you have to tell me?” he replied.

“So, there’s this thing called Twitter,” I said.

“I know what Twitter is, goddamn it. You talk to me like I don’t know what shit is. I know what it is. You have to start up the Internet to get on Twitter,” he said, making the universal sign for turning a key in the ignition when he said the words “start up the Internet.”

I laid it all out there: the Twitter page, the hundreds of thousands of followers, the news articles, the book publishers, the TV producers, all of it. He sat quietly and listened. Then he laughed, stood up, ironing out his pants with his hands, and said, “Have you seen my cell phone? Can you call it? I can’t find it.”

“So you’re…cool with all this? You’re cool with me writing a book, the quotes, everything?” I asked.

“What do I give a fuck? I don’t care what people think of me. Publish whatever you want. I just got two rules: I’m not talking to anyone, and whatever money you get, keep. I got my own fucking money. I don’t need yours,” he said. “Now, call my cell phone, goddamn it.”

Never Assume That Which You Do Not Know

“Well, what the fuck makes you think Grandpa wants to sleep in the same room as you?”

In the summer of 1987, when I was six years old, my cousin got married on a farm in Washington state. My family lived in San Diego, and my dad decided there was no way he was paying a thousand dollars for himself, my mother, my two brothers, and me to fly up the coast.

“Why am I going to pay two hundred dollars so a six-year-old can see a wedding?” he said to my mother. “You think that’s a moment Justin cares about? Two years ago he was still shitting in his pants. If everyone has to go, we’re driving.”

And so we did. I squished in between my two older brothers—Dan, who was sixteen at the time, and Evan, fourteen and gangly—in the backseat of our ’82 Thunderbird. My mom rode shotgun, and my dad took the wheel as we began the 1,800-mile trip up to Washington. We made it about four miles before my brothers and I started tormenting one another, which mostly consisted of them hitting me and saying stuff like, “How come you’re sitting like a gay? I bet it’s ’cause you’re a gay.” My dad dramatically swerved off to the side of the road, tires squealing in our wake, and whipped his head around to the three of us.

BOOK: Sh*t My Dad Says
13.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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