I've chosen to write about prompt number 3:
3.) What does that tell you about your father? List five products your father used (or uses). Write a longer piece about, at least, one of them.
I couldn't sleep last night, so as I was tossing and turning, I was trying to think of five products my Dad uses. Although there are many things I could say about my Dad, many memories I could write about (mental note to self to write about his workboots someday), many personality traits and qualities of his that I could share, writing about products he uses is difficult. My Dad is a frugal guy. Having grown up poor, as the 10th of eleven kids on a tobacco farm in Kentucky, my Dad has never had an abundance of cash to spend. He's not a big brand name guy-he generally seeks out the least expensive item he can find, especially if it is something for his own use.
I could easily come up with products that remind me of my Mom-the Kroger brand of Noxema that she has been washing her virtually unlined face with for most of her life, would be at the top of the list. I only have to smell that instantly recognizable scent to think of my Mom, and kissing her soft, freshly washed cheek goodnight. I will always associate Triple Lanolin Hand Lotion with my Grandma. That familiar yellow tube with the fancy green script writing almost always pops into my head when I think about her. She was a smoker when I was a child, and the smell of her cigarettes would entertwine with the scent of her lotion, and her L'air Du Temps perfume, creating a surprisingly, not unpleasant, Grandma smell. (Ok, here I am trying to be all sentimental and reflective, and I'm trying not to giggle at "Grandma smell"! See what happens when I try to get serious around here?) Camel Cigarettes will always remind me of my Grandpa, who lived to the ripe old age of 93. He smoked Camels from the time he was 14 until he was sucked so far into the depths of Alzheimers, that he forgot that he was ever a smoker to begin with.
But my Dad? Wow. Let's see, there's Grape Nuts Flakes cereal, Maxwell House Coffee, Mennon aftershave, and.....ummmm....hmmmmmm.
Let's start with the Grape Nuts Flakes-if any of these products say anything about my Dad, it will probably be the flakes. When my Dad finds something he likes, he sticks with it. He's not a flaky guy. (Ha! See what I did there?) Everyday of my childhood, as far back as I can remember, my Dad ate Grape Nut Flakes cereal. Every. Day. Have you tried this stuff? It tastes like cardboard-I don't understand the draw, but apparently he liked it. (Past tense-he's actually now in the midst of a decades long Corn Flake phase.) My Dad is the type of guy who goes through long phases of eating exactly the same thing-usually something very practical, and no frills. I remember a long spell where he would take a sleeve of unsalted crackers, a packet of turkey lunchmeat (you know, the packets of meat that rest below the bologna and olive loaf packages in the grocery store? Those.), and the ever present, stainless stell thermos of coffee for lunch everyday. My Dad prefers simple foods. If you try to impress him with a fancy meal, you'll be disappointed. He'll be much happier with a simple ham sandwhich on fake wheat bread with Miracle Whip.
Maxwell House coffee is another. I don't know if he buys it because he truly prefers it, or because it's pretty inexpensive, but those blue metal coffee cans are a familiar site of my childhood. Never one to throw anything useful away, my Dad has can after can filled with screws, washers, marbles, and who knows what else packed in his shed out back. I remember eating breakfast with my Dad, the smell of his coffee mingling with his breakfast cereal, his newspaper spread over the kitchen table. My Dad is the lone morning person in the family-he's always enjoyed a long, leisurely breakfast, sipping his coffee and reading his paper. Not surprisingly, he takes his coffee black. No fancy flavored cream for him, and he wouldn't be caught dead drinking a Latte or Cappucino.
Mennon aftershave. Well, I can't remember the exact name of the stuf, but I can picture the squat, dimpled bottle, filled with green liquid. I remember my Dad slapping the stuff on his bristly cheeks after shaving. When he wanted to be "fancy", he'd wear English Leather cologne, for my Mom-strongly scented and masculine, it came in a square glass bottle with a wooden cap.
Actually, I find that these things say a lot about my Dad and his personality. He's content with simple pleasures, and he's a very down to earth person, who doesn't feel the need to put on airs for anyone. He's not defined by the brand names he chooses to surround himself with like many people in our society today, but rather by his lack of brand identity. His character, and his quiet, loyal strength are his identity-at least to me.
This picture is one of my favorites, my Dad reading to my kids when they were both tiny.