“Sh*t My Dad Says” by Justin Halpern

This book is food for the soul because it will make you laugh out loud. It’s not as introspective as my typical fare but that’s okay. My excerpts here will not make you think the deepest thoughts but they will make you laugh. And just as it says in both “The Positive Dog” and “10% Happier”, you can’t be stressed, angry, or sad if you’re laughing. If just for those few moments when you might let out a small chuckle, I promise, you will feel a little healthier in your soul.

  1. On My First Day of Kindergarten: “You thought it was hard? If kindergarten is busting your ass, I got some bad news for you about the rest of your life.”
  2. On Sportsmanship: “You pitched a great game, you really did. I’m proud of you. Unfortunately, your team is shitty… No, you can’t go getting mad at people because they’re shitty. Life will get mad at them, don’t worry.”
  3. On My Last-Place Finish in the 50-Yard Dash During Little League Tryouts: “It kinda looked like you were being attacked by a bunch of bees or something. Then when I saw the fat kid with the watch who was timing you start laughing… Well, I’ll just say it’s never a good sign when a fat kid laughs at you.”
  4. On Showing Fear: “When it’s asshole-tightening time, that’s when you see what people are made of. Or at least what their asshole is made of.”
  5. On Dealing with Bullies: “You’re going to run into jerk-offs, but remember: It’s not the size of the asshole you worry about, it’s how much shit comes out of it.”
  6. On Going to a Party with No Adults Present: “Not a fucking chance… Yeah, you’re responsible, but I’ve seen those kids you go to school with, and if they weren’t so stupid, they’d be criminals.”
  7. On Giving UP a 450-Foot Home Run in My First College Baseball Game: “Jesus. That wasn’t even a home run, that was a fucking space experiment that should be written about in science journals or something.”
  8. “It’s never over. You, your body, the energy inside it, it all goes somewhere, even after you die. You’re never gone.”
    Clearly, my mom had had a word with him.
    “So you’re saying you think we live forever? Like, ghosts and all that stuff?” I implored.
    “No, Jesus Christ. You need to take a fucking science course or something. What I’m trying to say is that what makes you up, it’s always been around, and it always will be around. So really the only thing you should worry about is the part you’re at right now. Where you got a body and a head and all that bullshit. Just worry about living, dying is the easy part.” (Funny but true. “10% Happier” talks a lot about the Buddhist idea of dust-to-dust and ashes-to-ashes. While misconstrued to believe that “all life is suffering”, all of life, everything around us is temporary. So focus on the living and make the most of the life you have right now, because in the end, it’s all going to be gone even though part of you will be coming back.)
  9. On Whether to Vote for George W. Bush or Al Gore: “Gores seems kind of like a pompous prick, but every time I see Bush I feel like he’s probably shit his pants in the last year, and it’s something he worries about.”
  10. On Furnishing One’s Home: “Pick your furniture like you pick a wife; it should make you feel comfortable and look nice, but not so nice that if someone walks past it they want to steal it.”
  11. On Nontraditional Entertainment: “There’s something to be said for sitting around and drinking a beer while you watch your dog try to fuck a punching bag.”
  12. On Talking Heads: “Do these announcers ever shut the fuck up? Don’t ever say stuff just because you think you should. That’s the definition of an asshole.”
  13. Here is a touching story that Justin Halpern closes the book with:
    “When I was in my early twenties, I was head over heels for this woman. She was gorgeous. Just a real beauty. And full of life.”
    Most of us like to assume, or wish, that our parents only had sex with each other, and only the necessary number of times it took to produce us and our siblings, so it was strange to hear my dad talk so highly about a woman other than my mother. He never had before, and I was intrigued.
    “So me and her, we dated for a while. A long while. Then, one day, we got to talking, and I told her how much I loved her, and she looked at me and told me, ‘I don’t love you. I never will,” he continued.
    “So what’d you do?” I asked.
    “I told her I thought that I could change that. Maybe she didn’t love me right now, but she would eventually.”
    “What’d she say?”
    “She said okay. And we stayed together. And we fought. We fought a lot. And then I realized I had made a big mistake. She had given me her youth, and it was gone, and I didn’t know how to get out of it. And then she got sick. And she was dying,” he said, taking a deep breath, thinking for a moment, as if he were replaying something in his mind he hadn’t thought of in a long time.
    “So I made good with her, and I stuck by her. And then she died. And I felt horrible. Because I felt like here was this woman who didn’t want to be with me, she told me that, and I ignored it. And she was spending the end of her life with someone she didn’t love. And now she was gone. And part of me felt relieved that I was freed out of this relationship, and that made me feel so terrible, I couldn’t deal with it.”
    My dad sat back in his wicker chair for a few quiet moments. The waitress arrived with our food, and he picked at his salad before looking up at me.
    “People are always trying to tell you how they feel. Some of them say it outright, and some of them, they tell you with their actions. And you have to listen. I don’t know what will happen with your lady friend. I think she’s a nice person, and I hope you get what you want. But do me a favor: Listen, and don’t ignore what you hear.”
  14. “Well, I figure this book is about you and me. I mean, I’m the star, but you’re in it too.” He laughed. “And when I told you that story, you were hurting. So I guess I want people to know that maybe I’m not the warmest human being on the fucking planet, but I love the shit out of you. The story I told you, the reason I don’t tell nobody is because I never had a reason to. You’re a pretty together kid.”
    “Thanks, I appreci—“
    “Don’t get me wrong, you’ve got a big fucking mouth, and you ain’t the prettiest to look at, but I love you, and I want people to know that when it comes down to it, I’d do things for my family that I wouldn’t do for nobody else.”


Sh*t My Dad Says

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