Yesterday, it was the 12 year Dead Dad anniversary to celebrate the deadness of my Dead Dad. It was a great day in history, as I made my fabled ‘Dead Dads Club’ public to the world in the form of a Facebook page. You are most welcome to join it here.
The time has come for me to explain the rules of engagement and philosophy behind this secret society!
1. To be a member of the Dead Dad’s Club, you must have a dead dad. Either he is physically dead, or he is metaphorically dead in your eyes.
2. The object of the Club is to provide therapy in the form of inappropriate comments- and relishing in the stunned silence and awkward foot shuffling of those with fathers. Yes, this is a club where non-members will squirm and question our mental health, but be too scared of upsetting, or offending us to stage an intervention. This is the equivalent of a group of Jewish people making anti-semetic jokes. They can say it- you can’t. Hah!
3. A helpful tool is to draw a picture of your dead dad in the state of decomposition you speculate he is in now. For example, my dad died 12 years ago, so I have depicted him as a mere skeleton with a few tufts of hair. Which is handy- because when he had only been dead a few months, I found getting the shading right on rotting flesh to be quite difficult. Oil pastels were handy for this, as the various shades of brown blend in beautifully.
4. You must pick an ironic theme song to honour your Dead Dad. My cousin’s dad died of a heart attack, so she chose ‘My Heart Will Go On’, by Celine Dion. No, Uncle Terry, your heart will not go on. Not at all.
My dad died of a sucide attempt that was very successful (Yay! Go Dad! You achieved your goal!). His theme song is ‘I just Wanna Live’ by Good Charlotte.
5. When referring to ones father, one must always preface his name with ‘Dead’; ie: Dead Mike loved the rugby, my Dead Dad used to eat lambs testicles; or my Dead Father is a bit dead on the inside and outside. This is to avoid confusion with Non-Dead Dads, and the unfolding of the scenario mentioned later on.
You may wonder how I got the genius inspiration for such an amazing socitey. The truth is, I found myself consistantly being put in the situation where someone would ask about my dad; and then the hideously awkward conversation that followed always left me feeling terrible. Not because I was upset about talking about my fathers death, but because I felt bad for making the other person feel uncomfortable, and being a ‘buzz-kill’.
Here is a classic example of the regular social murder I would commit, then feel guilty for:
“So, what do your parents do for a living?”
“Mum is a cop, but she is quite keen to move into child abuse. Prevention.” (Note- I am giving the question asker the opportunity to change the subject, and save them from the hole they are digging)
“Cool. So what does your Dad do?” (Damn! they didn’t take my diversion!)
“Ah, he use to be a fitter welder.” (Last ditch attempt to save situation)
“What does he do now?” (OK, I tried my best, but you wouldn’t stop pushing…)
“He died.” (Atmosphere destroyed)
“Sorry.” (I bet you are)
“It’s fine, you didn’t kill him! Did you?” (Trying to make light of situation)
“Oh. haha…. How did he die?” (Fear has paralysed your ability to change subject)
“I don’t know.” (I have a fair idea, but am in damage control.)
“Ohh….” (Situation has been brutally assaulted, and no amount of skin grafts or plastic surgery can make it look pretty again, both parties feel hideous, and will do anything to change the subject)
“Remember the Venga Boys? They mixed some sweet aerobics competition beats.” (Nice save, Sarah!)
So after years of apologising and feeling bad, I have found the best way to tackle these situations is with the spirit of The Dead Dads Club. This is my new Scenario:
“So what do your parents do?”
“Mum’s a cop, Dad committed suicide 12 years ago, but it’s OK, one of those things that was shit at the time, funny in hindsight.”
And that is the beauty of the philosophy. Simple, brutal, non-victimised honesty.
The goal of Dead Dads Club is to disrupt the self indulgent, self pitying mindset that we are encouraged to wallow in after the death of a loved one. Death is an inevitablitly, not a failure of the health system. If people want to be all precious about death, let them be the ones left feeling embarrassed, not us!
So draw a picture! Pick a song! Experience liberation from social faux pas- with the ‘Dead Dad’s Club.’ Join now!