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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

Father Of The Century

Sunday February 5th, 2012 - Sturgis, MI

   I decided to stay overnight in Sturgis, MI because I had a sweet room at the Holiday Inn Express and didn’t feel much like driving after the show. There were no deadlines to have to meet to get home early, and I had a less than zero interest in watching the Super Bowl.

   Why risk driving at night when I don‘t have to? Clipping a critter is always a possibility as well. Hopefully, I saved the life of some horny buck that would have darted out in front of my car on the way to his midnight booty call. Not to mention my car itself. It felt right.

   On the way out of town, I stopped for a quick lunch at a Chinese buffet. The parking lot was full, so I figured it was a halfway safe bet. If I did get botulism, at least I’d have some company to talk to at the emergency room. Hey, getting out of bed is a risk. So I went in.

   The hostess sat me next to a family that looked like Central Casting got a call to send in THE white trashiest, hillbilliest and redneckiest crew of sorry looking goobers they could rustle up. The father was a fat slob with a scraggly beard, balding in his early 30s, dressed like he was going to a septic tank dig. His wife had thick glasses and a thicker waistline.

   They had four kids - three boys and a girl. There was food everywhere, but there looked to be a lot more under their table than on it. There were French fries and egg rolls ground into the carpet, and the kids looked like they needed to be driven through a car wash with the windows open to hose them off before the tractor pull. And I had to sit next to them.

   I did notice they were all quite well behaved, but I couldn’t help but picture what a pig sty their trailer must look like. If they could make a single table in a restaurant that filthy in that amount of time, I bet their home must have looked like post Katrina New Orleans.

   Everyone in the restaurant including me was gawking at them, but it was rather difficult not to. We couldn’t help it, but they were oblivious and went about their business quietly. I did feel sorry for the waitress who would probably have to clean their mess with a rake.

   Then, without warning the father got up out of his chair and walked around the table to give each one of his kids a big sincere hug and a kiss as he told them how much he loved each one. The guy must have spent a full thirty seconds on each kid. It was mesmerizing.

   My father never spent that much quality time or said that many loving things to any of his kids in his lifetime, much less at lunch at a restaurant. I was so moved and touched by that guy I wanted to go over and hug the bastard myself. I thought I was going to lose it.

   Then, the guy reached into his wallet and took out a $5 bill and explained to the kids the reason it was important to leave a tip for the person who refilled their drinks. Then he put his arms around his wife and kissed her too. This dude should win the father and husband of the year, decade and century. I’ll bet my kidneys that girl never sees a stripper pole and those boys won’t be comedians. Those kids are loved, and that’s what we’re all chasing.

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