Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bonus Father Knows Nothing: My Un-impressible Family

My fifth book "Father Knows Nothing" has become a bit of a seasonal choice. When Father's Day rolls around, we know to be stocked up on books. This year I thought I'd feature a few of the outtakes from the book. I wrote the column for nine years, so there are lots of them that didn't make the final copy of the book, including a few of my favorites.

This one goes back to 2011, right after my novel "The Living Wills" came out.

My kids never tire of hearing stories about my childhood, but there is one thing they will never ask me about under any circumstances.

My career.

They just don't care. I can understand that on a certain level. My own father was an engineer, and I remember that after I discovered he wasn't a train engineer...he was just a civil engineer...his job didn't interest me in the slightest. Even when I attended a school that he had personally designed (Heidelberg American Middle School), I wasn't impressed. I remember telling him: "The hallways are a little confusing."

So, I suppose it's only fair that my own kids are similarly unimpressed with my career. When they were little, I worked in radio. My two oldest sons Tommy and Johnny were even featured on the show quite a bit. But I remember their reaction one time when a stranger was impressed by meeting them because he had heard them talking on the radio.

They thought the guy was nuts.

When this fan asked Tommy what it was like hanging out with a famous disc jockey like John Records Landecker, he just shrugged his shoulders. So did Johnny. To them, John was just one of Dad's friends. No big deal. And being on the radio was also no big deal. It's just a bunch of people sitting in a room with microphones.

When my first book came out, I gave an autographed copy to my oldest son. He put it in the closet. When my first novel came out two years later, I gave copies to all three boys. Two of them have no idea where their copies are now. When my most recent novel came out, none of the boys wanted a copy. None of them even asked me what it's about.

But when that book came out, I did something that I thought might actually interest them: I was interviewed by WGN Television.

I mentioned it to the boys at breakfast that morning as I put on my suit.

"Is it going to be on the Internet?" Sean asked.

"I'm not sure," I said. "I hope so. If not, I can probably post it on YouTube."

"Do you know how to do that?" Tommy asked.

"No. Do you?"

He just shook his head and continued eating his waffles. No follow up questions. Not the slightest bit of interest. After they came home from school I asked them if they wanted to watch the interview. All three of them said no. Bridget, to her credit, actually did want to see it when she came home from work. I even heard her guilting the boys into watching it too. Only two of them were moved by her techniques; Tommy and Sean. Johnny still didn't care. He stayed in his room reading Captain Underpants.

The rest of us watched the segment together. After it was over, Tommy said: "That's it?"

"Yup," I replied.

Sean didn't say a word, he just walked away. Bridget said: "That was pretty good, but..."


"You were a little slouchy."


I must say, there's very little chance of getting a big head in this household. I suppose that's probably for the best. But I also have a pretty good idea now how my Dad felt when I told him the hallways in his school were a little confusing.

Father Knows Nothing makes a perfect Father's Day gift, particularly for new dads, or fathers of boys. You can order the hard copy here at Eckhartz Press for only $10, and the e-book here at