I almost made it through Father's Day without thinking about my dad.
Okay, that sounds horrible, and isn't really true. There's no way NOT to think about him, what with the sheer volume of irritating PR email pitches that pile up all month. "Don't forget about Dad!" they say in the subject lines, "Please please blog about some crap we think is perfect for your dad! Who is dead!" is how I sarcastically translate them, right before I dump them into the trash can, unread. It's a new yearly tradition, although the righteous anger I used to feel over some poorly targeted email blasts has faded over the years.
(No, I am NOT getting an early start on my Father's Day gift guide. Because I am at my father's FUNERAL, motherfucker. UNSUBSCRIBE.)
I almost made it through without thinking about my dad in any painful, punch-in-the-gut sort-of way. That's more what I meant.
I focused entirely on Jason (who also had his birthday yesterday), so I had lots of extra planning and shopping to focus on, with a goal to give him an entire weekend of fun and presents and relaxation. We got together with friends, went to picnics and his favorite restaurants, checked out some potential new neighborhoods (found one! we're in love! someone come buy my house!), and took the kids out for random adventures around the area.
It was a busy few days. Too busy to be sad or even wistful.
And then we decided to go see Inside Out.
I was expecting to cry. The trailer made me cry. I knew going in that this movie would be a return to form for Pixar (we were disappointed in Brave and Monsters University, and we like to pretend that Cars 2 never happened and stare at the kids blankly when they ask about it). And by "return to form" I of course mean a "return to masterful emotional manipulation and a direct pokey line to my tear ducts."
But I wasn't expecting Richard Kind.
So you probably know Richard Kind from oh, probably a million things. Mad About You, Spin City, Scrubs, Curb Your Enthusiasm, a whole bunch of movies, and a ton of voice-over work.
My dad was his high school English and drama teacher.
I've never met him or anything like that (he graduated before I was even born), but at some point in my childhood my dad saw him on television and sort of nonchalantly mentioned that oh, he was my student. Nice kid. Smart kid. Good for him!
I, on the other hand, was blown away. AN ACTOR. ON TELEVISION. AND MOVIES. Sitting in my dad's classroom, where I liked to hang out sometimes and help my dad staple things to the bulletin boards. My dad back in his study, grading his papers and tests on Shakespeare. I know, I know. Cool story, bro, except to a much younger me it really was. I had zero other connections to anyone remotely famous, so even that one random degree of separation managed to blow my mind.
Later I'd watch Mad About You with a sense of pride. Good for him!
Yesterday, I recognized his voice in the movie and promptly burst into tears.
(His character would eventually bring even Jason to tears, so consider yourself warned. You don't need a weird Pavlovian connection to Richard Kind for his performance in Inside Out to completely destroy you. Bring tissues.)
After that, I didn't even try to stop from crying. The movie hit me over and over in all my soft, vulnerable places and I let it.
(Are you a parent? SMACK. Are you a former 11-year-old girl? DOUBLE-SMACK. Are you a goddamn human being who has lived on this planet? SMACK SMACK SMACK SMACK SMACK.)
It was good and cathartic. The kids loved it and want to see it again. I might need a bit.
My dad hated computer-generated animation, incidentally. He loved old-school, hand-drawn Disney and refused to see anything from Pixar after Toy Story, which he deemed "creepy."
But I know he'd be so proud of Richard. He always was.
And of me, I think. No, I know.