by Karen Topakian
I found the perfect Father’s Day gift, months before the big day. This never happens.
The gift is a book titled, Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes. My father’s name is written all over it. He never met a good joke he didn’t like to tell and re-tell. And he told them well.
Many a time I would pick up the phone and hear his voice from 3,000 miles away say, “A rabbi and a priest walk into a bar…” I would say Hi Dad. And he would keep going. Hitting the punch line perfectly. We would both laugh. Long and hard. Then he would say, “That’s all. How’s everything? I think your mother wants to talk to you.”
I had struck gold with this present idea. Except for one small hitch – my father died seven years ago.
This isn’t the first time I’ve come up with a brilliant gift idea for my dad since he passed away. One Christmas, I discovered a compilation CD of oud music played by some of the world’s best musicians. He learned to play this fretless Middle Eastern stringed instrument when I was in high school. While my sister and I toiled at our desks conjugating French verbs and proving geometric theories, he sat in the living room “serenading” us. Listening and playing the oud brought him great pleasure and opened my ears to a musical genre other than rock n’roll.
So I bought the CD for myself. Play it on occasion. Think of him and cry.
I bought the book, too. When I read it I thought of him and laughed. Long and hard.