Mike Buzzelli

Column Mike Buzzelli

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and published author. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant, Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine, and an active board member of the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, the Carnegie Arts Initiative and the Carnegie Screenwriters. His book, "Below Average Genius" is a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column here in the Observer-Reporter.

Father’s Day faux pas

June 14, 2013

Both of my brothers are dads, and I think they’re both very good at it. At least I think so. As far as I know, they haven’t sold the kids into slavery, injured them or let them do crystal meth. Seems like they’re doing an excellent job to me, and I thought I would tell them since Father’s Day is coming up.

My brother, Rick, moved to Ohio a while ago. He found a new job and a new house and moved to Streetsboro, not far from Cleveland. His wife, Vickie, moved up with him. His kids, Brittany and Nick, were both attending universities here in Pittsburgh, and they stayed here. Brittany will be 22 in August. Nick will be 20 in the same month.

Since I probably won’t see Rick tomorrow, I thought I would wish him well on his special day. I texted him. It was an informal way to go for the occasion, but he wasn’t my dad so I saw no reason to get him a card or a present. Some say “cheap.” I say, “thrifty.”

Here is the message I texted: “I probably never told you this, but I think you’re a great father.” Send. Done. End of story. Or so I thought.

I went about my business. I came back to my phone an hour later and saw I missed a series of phone calls from him. I had been at an event the night before and put my ringer on silent. I never increased the volume. I missed four frantic phone calls. Assuming that something terrible happened, I called him back immediately.

He picked up the phone and said, “Oh, geez. Never mind.”

I asked about his persistent calling and he said, “I panicked. I had to pull the truck over. I thought I was going to throw up.”

“Why?” I inquired further.

“I thought you wrote, ‘I probably never told you this, but I think you’re a grandfather.’”

He had read the message wrong and assumed his daughter was pregnant.

When his wife, Vickie, called me five minutes later, she was still laughing. She told me the story from her perspective.

She said, “Rick called me and said, ‘I’m sending you a text Mike wrote. Read it and call me back.’ I did and called him right back and said, ‘I think it’s really nice.’ And he said, ‘You think it’s nice?!?’ Read the last part again and call me back.’”

She told me she read it again and called him back. He finally said, “He thinks I’m a grandfather! I don’t know what I’m going to do!” I imagine there was some discussion about burying Brittany’s boyfriend in a cornfield somewhere.

She reassured him that he read the message wrong and told him to read it again. That’s when I called him back after missing the series of calls.

Instead of congratulating him on a job well done, I almost gave him a heart attack.

I’ve been wanting to text brother Brian with a similar message, but I’ve held off. I may have to use the word “excellent” or “terrific.” Great and grand are just too close together.

Happy Father’s Day, dads!



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