Sunday, November 13, 2005


My dad is a great whistler.
He will tell you he's not musical
But he can whistle any tune - - and then improvise on it for hours
If he'd learned to "speak" music, he'd be a composer.
I'm sure of it.

* * *

When my siblings and I were growing up,
Dear 'Ole Dad had a special 13 note melody that he whistled when he wanted the dog to come. (Think opening of a horse race)
There was also a 3 note motive he used to call his kids

People were either impressed that kids came running when he whistled, or absolutely appalled. Dear 'Ole dad got a lotta grief (esp. from his mother) for "whistling to your children just like the dog."

(Dear 'Ole Dad would point out that the "Kid Calling" tune was very different from the "Dog Calling" tune - but appalled people don't appreciate subltely!)

* * *

The other night I had dinner with Dear 'Ole Dad.
The ketchup bottle had a fine-tiped nozzle which he used to make intricate ketchup designs ontop of his meatloaf

I said, "Fancy Stuff"

He said, "This is nothing, you should have seen me as a kid, I made plow lines in my mashed potatoes, with the beans sticking up in rows like a farm."

I said, "My father never let me play with my food."

He replied, "The father of your childhood is gone."
He talked about Papa VW mellowing out once his kids left the nest, and how he's starting to mellow out now that his kids are grown. He said that if he were to raise his family all over again, he would do some things differently, and maybe even play with mashed potatoes!

* * *

So I asked Dear 'Ole Dad if, in doing things differently the second time, would he still call his children by whistling.
He laughed ("You better believe I would whistle again!")
But went serious again and said the main thing he would have done differently is church.
He didn't know how. Maybe a different church, maybe different choices, but he would do something differently. He said, "They were always fighting . . . "

* * *

They were always fighting.
I didn't notice it until 7th grade.
That was odd.
7th grade is too young to be told what's happening, but old enough hear gossip.
(A bad combination)

After a few years, I began to see fighting without the help of gossips.
Constant tension, stubborn traditions, hidden subtext.
I learned to be angry,
But I also learned to argue and think.

Thinking turns people into heretics
It's a heretical thing to say. . . but I'm proud to be a heretic
Heretics have more fun!

* * *

The cover story in this week's City pages is on religion, What's a lapsed Catholic former sex worker to do when she find out she still belives? It's a good essay (except the skate punks at Orland Square were completely plastic, wannabee, losers. The real skaters hung out at Chicago Ridge).

My two favorite quotes:
He didn't employ the phrase "buttfuck" but not everyone is as eloquent as Renee

There is nothing implicity sheep-like about collective worship. In fact, studies show that sheep have not been know to commune for religious purposes"

I'll have to take her word for it.
Thee wan't a lot of sheep herds roaming around Mt. Greenwood, Chicago Ridge, or even Orland Park. In fact, all my sheep-knowledge comes entirely from a few hours spent at the Petting Zoo.

* * *

The Brookfield Petting Zoo had goats and sheep in a pen
With a playground made of tires
Kids were allowed/encouraged into the exhibit to play on the tires with the goats
Once upon a time the VW family went to the Brookfield Zoo, and all the VW kids were playing in the sheep/goat exhibit (with at least a dozen other kids).
After playing for a while, Dear 'Ole Dad whistled his three note whistle, and of course, all the VW children ran out of the exhibit. (Afterall, when Dear 'Ole Dad whistles, you come!)

The other kids playing with us noticed the sudden hurried rush children, and decided something fun (or dangerous) must be happening, and they ran for the exit too. The sheep/goats apparently didn't want to be left out, and next thing you know every critter in that petting zoo exhibit was stampeding to the exit.

* * *

Like I said at the very beginning,
My dad is a great whistler.