On all of the Wednesday's in 2007 and 2008 my Dad, Doug Jack, picked me up early from school and would drive me an hour and forty minutes into downtown Toronto to attend Teen Troupe rehearsals at Second City.
Now, as any Southern Ontario resident can tell you it is near impossible to go in or out of the city between the hours of about 2 and 8pm. Which meant we needed to find a better way. That led us to the sweet sweet ride through the weird little neighbourhoods of South West Toronto. Clarkson, Port Credit, Longbranch, New Toronto, Mimico. Our favourite route.
Most of you will never be so lucky as to hop in a Volvo Sedan with Doug and make your way down Lakeshore. I feel bad for you really. So, because I am a kind-hearted and generous person I'll give you a little insight in to the sort of gems you can learn on that trip.
If you're driving to Toronto from my hometown and you've made it to Clarkson you're about an hour into the trip. This also means you've just realized you forgot to eat lunch and a dull headache is setting in behind your eyes. My dad has given me a lot of great traits like my sense of humour, my love of smoked salmon and stumpy little legs but unfortunately he passed on his propensity for headaches as well. Never fear! Doug has a foolproof cure for that late afternoon killer. "Drink a Pepsi and wait 15 minutes!" Either he's a medical genius or a Victoria Secret model looking to slim down before fashion week but it really does work. The mix of sugar and caffeine and whatever it is that makes it brown gives you enough of a boost to power through the rest of your afternoon. Skip the acetaminophen and try it next time. You can thank Doug.
When you find yourself on Lakeshore for an extended period of time you come across a lot of terrible drivers. Tensions are high, dude! This is when you get some of the best advice. "Always follow people into their crazy" I cannot tell you how many times I've thought of this. My dad has been a lawyer for thirty years and has had to battle some serious crazy pants peeps. His best advice when someone is being irrational is to agree with them. Reflect their ideas back to them until they realize how insane it really sounds. For example, next time your friend tells you there won't be a line-up outside the brunch place at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning, just go with them and get in line, they'll know what they did and you'll never have to have that argument ever again. It always works. If it doesn't work, just run away. They're not human.
Oh man. You guys. You've been on Lakeshore for like a long ass time and you're still not even that close to your final destination. This is the part of the trip where everyone starts going a little bananas. That's when Doug starts to teach you a clinic in the Riff. My dad is the king of riffing on the same dumb joke forever. Sure we were headed to Second City so I could learn how to do improv but I probably learned more about comedy just hanging out with Doug. For example, recently, my Dad drove past a Subway sandwich place pointed at it and said "Now is that where you pick up the underground train? It looks like it may have a deli in it. That's nice. Pick up a sandwich before the commute" and then for about seven minutes riffed as a guy who has never eaten a sub from Subway before. It was stunning. "Yes, and" isn't a rule for him it's a way of life.
We've decided New Toronto is the worst-named neighbourhood. What does it even mean? What's so new about it? Go home neighbourhood namer, you're drunk. My dad on the other hand has a dope name. "There are two kinds of men in the world, Doug's and guys who wanna be Doug's." That's my dad's favourite joke. If your name is Doug he'll tell you it. If you know a guy named Doug he'll tell you it. If you've heard that in western culture the name Doug is a fairly popular name he'll tell you it. It's also true. I've never met a Doug I didn't like. That being said I do not like New Toronto.
You're so close. Almost done with the favourite route. This is when we slip in to the comfortable silence that can only be shared with your Dad on a car trip. Sometimes being quiet says the most. My dad can take control of any room whenever he pleases. I've seen him make countless toasts, speeches, lectures and eulogies that have blown people's minds. The kid has a way with words. But the moments that he chooses to be silent, to sit back and take it all in, to enjoy the world around him, that is when he says the most. I'm not always good at taking a backseat conversationally but from hanging out with my Dad I've learned that it's ok to sit in the silence.
Yeah. My Dad is pretty cool. He's a genius and looks like the cartoon man on the Pringle's can. That's a hell of a combo. I mean sure, every dad has their weird little tips and tricks and jokes but I'm pretty sure mine is the best.
Go call your Dad. Thank him for being weird. He'll like that.