This may come as something of a shock, but my parents have a somewhat, oh let's call it "warped" sense of humor. I know. Clearly I was adopted and they haven't found time to break the news yet.
Anyway, during the last week things with Dad have been pretty scary. Seeing him in the hospital that first day was an experience I could never have imagined and will never repeat because Dad is doing better now and he will live forever and ever just like I'd always assumed he would since he is after all, the strongest man in the world. (What? Like you never regress to the sweet, reassuring denial of childhood?) Dad was in bed, staring at the ceiling, refusing to speak. Well, sort of refusing. He did deign to share a few words (none that are fit to print, of course) when anyone disturbed him. You know. Like whenever anyone annoyed him by making too much noise existing in the same building. Dad is pretty easy going, really. He is. Affable, friendly, pleasant. You know. Just as long as he isn't sick. Because when he is? Wow. Like Jeckyll and Hyde on the days that Hyde forgot to take his meds.
So when Dad reached the point that he wasn't even sniping at the nurses and glaring at the doctors while muttering about how he would be just fine if everyone would just "LEAVE ME ALONE ALREADY, ONLY BRING ME A COKE FIRST" I got worried.
At one point Dad's doctor came in the room, saw my brothers and I and asked, "What did you do to get all these people to come visit you?" While Dad was busy responding (and by "responding" I mean "glaring in silence") to the hassle of having one more person in his room using up all that extra oxygen and space that the hospital probably charges for, my brother Ryan volunteered, "It's his sparkling sense of humor that draws us in, Doctor."
All kidding aside, I admit the lack of humor was something that really worried me. Even when the surly attitude returned, there was still not the slightest indication that Dad might crack a joke. And that's scary. Even in the worst of times Dad has always had a sense of humor that withstands anything. Frequently irreverent, always dry and usually more than a little twisted, he gets me every time. And I am just not ready to part with that humor or its owner any time soon. I kept hoping for some sign of Dad's sense of humor, somehow believing that if I could catch a glimpse of it then my loving funny father must still be in there somewhere.
A couple of days ago, a nurse came into the room and asked Dad, " We need your full legal name for our records. What does the 'L' stand for?" And I froze, knowing that a nurse was about to be treated to some of Dad's less pleasant remarks. You see, Dad hates his first name so much that I was 12 years old before I even knew what it is. He never uses it and I have never heard him even speak it aloud. He was so secretive about it, in fact, that I was deeply disappointed to find out that it's not some horrible abnormal name. I was kind of hoping for something like 'Leakyzit.' It's not though. It's a completely normal, rather common name and yet I still fear that if I were to put it in print here? He'd find out and my life as I know it would be over.
So of course, when the nurse unwittingly broached this very dangerous subject with her extremely cranky patient, everyone in the room sort of braced themselves, you know, the way people do at the first signs of an earthquake.
And then it happened. Without missing a beat Dad replied solemnly, "The 'L' stands for Lucifer."
Ladies and Gentlemen: My father. He's going to be just fine.