Depending on which side you take in the age-old controversy about heredity versus environment, we are all either genetically inclined to become who we are, or we adapt to our surroundings as we grow. Of course, there are plenty of arguments against both claims. We’ve all seen kids that came from good families go bad while their siblings grew up to become good citizens, and we’ve seen others who came from dysfunctional families, grew up in poverty, and yet overcame all kinds of problems to succeed. Either way, I was screwed, thanks to my old man.

Don’t get me wrong, my dad was a great guy, and the lessons I learned from him helped shape me into the man I am today. He instilled a love of books and travel in me at an early age, as well as a work ethic, and he always told me that I could accomplish anything I wanted to in life if I were willing to work hard enough to make it happen. He also had a great sense of humor and there were times that it came back to haunt me.

I was probably about five or six years old and we were sitting on the couch watching the old Red Skelton Show on our little black and white TV. Mom had made a big bowl of popcorn and I was munching away as we enjoyed the antics of Clem Kadiddlehopper and Freddie the Freeloader, and when I started to reach into the bowl again Dad pulled it away and said I couldn’t have any more. I asked why not, and he told me it was because I still had my appendix.

At that age I had never heard of an appendix so Dad explained that it was like a little sack that hung off your gut, and when you ate popcorn the seeds fell into it. He told me that when that sack got full of seeds, it exploded and you had to have an operation to get it out and it really hurt. “But you’re eating popcorn,” I said, and Dad lifted his shirt and pushed down his beltline to show me a scar. “My appendix exploded,” he said, “This is where they cut it out.” Suddenly popcorn didn’t taste so good to me anymore.

Fast forward about ten years and I was at my girlfriend’s house one Saturday night when her mother made up a batch of hot buttered popcorn and offered me some. I declined, telling her I couldn’t eat it since I still had my appendix. “What does that have to do with it?” she asked, so I explained all about the appendix and the dangers of popcorn seeds. That lady looked at me with a newfound understanding of just how low her daughter’s standards were in young men and asked, “Are you an idiot?”

Well yeah, but what does that have to do with anything? As it turns out, she was a nurse and she dragged out some kind of medical book and gave me a quick lesson on human anatomy, while my girlfriend, her sister, and whoever else was there laughed at my ignorance.

Incensed at this betrayal by my very own father, I called home and told my dad indignantly, “You lied to me!” Nonplussed, Dad said, “I lie to you all the time. What are you talking about?” I explained all about the appendix and what I had just learned, and it was Dad’s time to roar with laughter. “Really?” he asked. “That’s why you don’t eat popcorn? Your mother and I thought you were weird and just didn’t like it.”

My relationship with that young lady ended soon afterward, probably because she realized that her mom was probably right, she could do better. The good news was that my next girlfriend taught me even more about human anatomy. But that’s another story.

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24 Comments on Dad Lied

  1. Roger says:

    ROTFLMAO, You have a great sense of humor!


  2. Michael Morris says:

    Nick I’ve been a longtime lurker on both this and your RV blog. I have also read all of your novels and I just downloaded your two Highway History books. As a newspaperman myself, it is amazing to me how well you can write everything from humor to political op-ed that gets so many people fired up or a novel that keeps me up late trying to figure out “who dunnit.” There are many writers who can do one or the other but you do them all with excellence. I daresay you could write a grocery list and it would be fascinating.

  3. Kayjulia says:

    Tickled me pink 😀

  4. Melissa Beahm says:

    I must agree with Michael Morris — you are an amazing writer and I enjoy your posts so much!

  5. You started my day with a chuckle. Thank you.

  6. Molly Pinner says:

    Bob & I happened to be reading this at the same time….it was easy to guess why we were both laughing so hard, so early in the morning! Thanks for the chuckles!

  7. Barbara says:

    Loved it Nick. My dad used to make milk come out his ear. We (small kids) could never figure it out. Great memories.

  8. David Cross says:

    Great story.

  9. Steve says:

    Too funny Nick! I’m not sure this is a “Bad Nick” column as much as a “Bad Dad” story…. Do I sense another non-fiction book here? 😉 I will admit doing similar things to my son while also winking at his mother… :-)

  10. Wayne says:

    Thanks for clearing that up. I’m making Pop Corn right now.

  11. Sharon says:

    Wow! So that’s what causes an appendix to burst! I never knew. What a great way to start the day, laughing at/with Nick. 😉

  12. Bill says:

    My Dad was the same way! To this day (I’m 72 years old) and I still cringe whenever I remember the embarrassment of repeating one of my Dad’s lies among friends. I guess they weren’t really lies. If he didn’t know something he’d just make it up and I’d think it was the gospel. Funny thing, I sometimes find myself doing the same thing with my grandchildren. The DNA runs deep.

  13. Nevada Dave says:

    Your fantastic Nick…You’ve just made my day to be outstanding like your writing. Now I know why I start my days out with your blog….

  14. Chris says:

    And Charles said “that’s good, he needs to write more humor!”
    And I said, “I’m not letting my dogs sleep with him. We’d freeze to death!”
    Max and Pepper send their love to Uncle Nicky

  15. Dave Mingus says:

    Another great story Nick, and a great laugh. Keep it coming guy, I do enjoy it.

  16. Donna says:

    Way too funny! It reminds me of how my mother lied about the cold apples in the crisper bin in the refrigerator being better than the ones sitting out in a bowl on the dining room table. She had put live lobsters in the apple bin to cook for supper. What she didn’t know was one of those claw snappers had lost his rubber band and almost got me! Yah, so believing everything your parents tell you isn’t always the best policy!

    Great story, Nick! Don’t forget to grab a huge bowl of popcorn with plenty of butter before your next movie and make sure there’s no lobster snapping inside the bowl first! LOL.

  17. KatheK says:

    Oh how adults have such a powerful influence on kids! Your story reminded me of one from our family. When my sister was little, her friends were discussing how they had been baptized and therefore would go to heaven when they died. My sister had no idea what they were talking about and worriedly ran to ask my mother, who was washing string beans in the sink, whether she had been baptized. My mom said, “No” and my sister was distraught, whereupon my mother took a dripping string bean from the sink, bonked my sister on the head and said, “I baptize you string bean”. My sister still looks back with embarrassment when she thinks how many times she told people she’d been baptized string bean.

  18. Aaron Borovoy says:

    That story made my day, Nick!

  19. Tony says:

    Great laugh, thanks Nick

  20. LaDonna Kinney says:

    What a great story Uncle Nick. I could so see Great-Grandpa saying that. Just so he could have the rest for his own

  21. Traci says:

    they had TV way back when you were a kid?!

  22. Elizabeth says:

    Well, actually, that is what the doctor told my husband when he had to have his appendix out…that it was full of popcorn seeds!! Unpopped ones that is. His ruptured on the operating table and some fell back in. So he got to have his side left open a few days to drain out the nasty stuff…stuffed with rags soaked in salt water…ouch!! COLD SALT WATER says my husband. His fever raged for several days during which time we prayed a lot…they were not really sure he would be ok for a time there. I know it sounds funny when you wrote your story above…but I guess it can happen. This was back in about 1982 in Bremerton, Washington…true story, Nick!!

    He claims I hit every hole in the road on the way to the hospital…yep I drove him, saved money you know. Believe me, I tried NOT to hit every pothole…but he did find out how it feels when you are in labor and the driver hits holes in the road too!! When we got there, he was in agony and in the emergency room, they were not paying much attention until I told him, just get down on the floor and they can figure out HOW to get you back up again (no where to even sit down, much less lie down in that emergency room)…he walked in, so I suppose they thought he was ok. Heh…not so ok, as it turned out!!

  23. Steve says:

    With all the pain and discomfort of your face scrapping treatment…and you are writing humor…good humor…thanks Nick! Red Skelton would approve.

  24. J.C. Webber III says:

    Yes, that was a great story Nick. But I want to say something about the heredity versus environment thing.

    My Dad and I both print rather than write. I remember giving up handwriting way back in grade school. I always assumed it was because my father printed rather than use cursive handwriting and I wanted to emulate him. I later discovered that my grandfather also printed instead of using cursive. But the clincher was when I discovered that my estranged son (long story for another time) also used printed handwriting and that it looked surprisingly just like my father’s and mine. And I had not seen him since he was 18 months old (he was 16 at the time of this discovery). Maybe there is something to this heredity thing.

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