Paternitas - 405 Magazine


When I was about a week old, I turned yellow – my liver hadn’t kicked in yet or something.

When I was about a week old, I turned yellow – my liver hadn’t kicked in yet or something. It turns out that isn’t terribly uncommon, but this was in 1978, before WebMD, and my dad only knew that there was something visibly wrong with the brand-new addition to the family. So he bundles me up and drives back to the hospital, marches in, hands me to the admissions nurse and thunders, “I want you people to fix my son!”
“…Or exchange him for one that works; he should still be under warranty!”

Of course, my source for that story is my dad himself, speaking decades after the fact and probably facetiously, but the thing is: I believe him anyway. That’s pretty much indicative of his sense of humor, and while I often found it… problematic during my teenage years, it’s become one of the things I’ve been happiest to inherit from him along with a systemic tolerance for heat, pretty great genes in the size/eyes/teeth/immune system departments and a ferocious love of the written word.

We weren’t quite simpatico on every topic – he was adamantly opposed to me playing videogames, for example – but while I don’t plan to have children of my own, I would almost certainly use his approach to certain aspects of parenting: “Read this. Think about that. Consider their perspective. Did I ever tell you about your oldest brother, who died under mysterious circumstances after continuing to do what I just told you to stop doing?”

He’s been a great influence on me from day one, and I get choked up when friends of the family occasionally tell me I remind them of him. So even though he’ll never read this himself (because he’s never cared for computers): Happy Father’s Day, Papa. Thanks for everything. And if I ever do come up with any kids, we can tell them together about the video store that was damaged in the tornado; I hear they have “Gone With the Wind.”

STEVE GILL is unusually tall, has a B.A. in Letters and a minor in Classics from OU, drinks a great deal of coffee and openly delights in writing, editing and catching the occasional typo for Slice – especially since his dream career (millionaire layabout in a P.G. Wodehouse novel) is notoriously difficult to break into. He's probably trying to think of a joke about pirates right now.