CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)

AUTHOR: CHARLI

HED:Merry Christmas to me; Happy Birthday to you

By Charlie Langford

Daily Journal

I have to tell this tale on my dad because today is his birthday and what greater honor can a father receive than to have his only son tell an embarrassing story in public. I confess that I have yet to tell Dad this story.

But first, I have to give him credit where credit is due.

Dad has worked in the newspaper industry for what now must be more than 40 years. He is naturally inquisitive and has a keen eye for detail.

As a result of his job, our family, like some families in the military, moved a great deal. We moved from Tupelo, to Huntsville, Ala., to Miami, to Orlando, and to New York. These moves usually resulted in great adventures that will forever be etched into my memory. He took us, my two sisters and me, to places many kids never get to go.

The adventures included going camping on the beach in the Florida Keys, watching the Miami Dolphins play in the old Orange Bowl, riding in the Goodyear blimp, bass fishing in the Everglades, seeing the launch of a half dozen Apollo missions, attending the VIP opening of Walt Disney World and seeing the tall ships sail into New York Harbor during the nation's bicentennial celebration in 1976.

Dad enjoyed these adventures with as much childlike enthusiasm as we did. His curiosity was infectious and probably resulted in my entering the field of journalism. I will forever be grateful for my childhood.

Now for the embarrassing story.

Dad is very meticulous about his wardrobe and appearance. He wears not-overly expensive suits, but suits that are well-tailored and stylish. His shirts are always pressed and his shoes always shine. His hair has a Trent Lott neatness. He's not snobbish about his clothes, but every article of clothing obviously is carefully selected before it's purchased. If you want clothing for Christmas or a birthday, Dad's the guy. He knows how to buy.

This past Christmas, Dad took a cue from my wife, Ginna, that I wanted a golf sweater. Actually, Dad offered to buy new clubs or a new golf bag, but Ginna decided that because I had clubs and a bag I didn't need new ones and suggested he purchase a sweater. Thanks, Ginna.

Dad's knowledge of golf, much less golf fashion, is somewhat limited.

When Christmas arrived I opened the box and saw a red and white sweater with what looked like a golfer standing over a putt on one side and another golfer riding in a golf cart on the other. The colors were somewhat loud, but not overbearing. I figured with just the right amount of bravado I could wear the sweater to work where fellow golfers with equally loud sweaters would turn green with envy.

For the next six weeks the golf sweater hung in the closet until I finally decided, "Today's the day."

I slipped the sweater over my back and adjusted the cutoff sleeves so each squared with my shoulders. When I started to button I noticed the sweater buttoned right side over left. I felt the blood flow to my face. I stepped to the mirror and confirmed my initial feeling of horror. The golfer standing over the putt was wearing a skirt.

Dad had purchased a ladies' sweater. I had not gotten new clubs or a new bag for Christmas, but a ladies' golf sweater. I was displeased, to say the least, but out of a sense of not wanting to hurt Dad's feelings, I have not told him about the sweater.

I did relay the story to my sister in Chicago and she in turn told me that when Dad bought the sweater he also purchased a jacket for himself, but had yet to find an occasion to wear it. A couple of weeks ago when they were getting ready to go dinner, Dad put the jacket on. It, too, buttoned right side over left. So much for the keen eye for detail.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Charlie Langford is Daily Journal copy desk chief.

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