My Dad, Jerry Silvers

I know I usually reserve this blog for weird comedy articles about nothing, but today I’d like to talk about my dad, Jerry Silvers.

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This guy.

My dad was a hilarious jokester who loved to find different ways to make people laugh.  If he liked you, you pretty much knew you’d eventually be the victim of his pranks.  It was only a mater of time.

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody more giddily proud of any accomplishment.

He also loved to share funny stories.  Some of his favorites were about when he and my mom went to wrestling shows in the early 80s and how much different it was from the modern WWE’s squeaky-clean, high-def, PG-rated television product.  If you run into a WWE performer after a show today, he’ll be contractually obligated to smile while he gives you an autograph and reminds you that the troops are the real heroes.  Contrast that with my dad’s story of when he and my mom left a show only to find a very drunk Hector Guerrero belting out “Werewolves of London” in the parking lot before gleefully mooning a group of onlookers.  If there’s anything sorely missing from today’s sports entertainment, it’s drunk, indecently-exposed luchadores.

Another favorite wrestling story of my dad’s was how often people would stop him at wrestling shows to tell him he looked like a younger version of NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race.

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That’s Dad on the left.  I think.

One guy who approached him at a show was convinced there was no way Dad wasn’t related to Race, so Dad decided to go along with it and claimed he was Harley’s son.  He didn’t miss a beat when the excited fan asked him for an autograph, signing with the made-up name “Jerry Race.”  I’d like to think that guy kept my dad’s autograph among his prized wrestling memorabilia, right next to signed photos of Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes.  Hopefully he got a chance to meet Harley Race years later and have a confusing conversation about that time he got an autograph from his son Jerry.

The “Jerry Race” anecdote took place years before I was born, but there was another “dad quickly assuming another identity” story that I actually got to be a part of.

I was summoned for jury duty in federal district court an hour and a half away, and since “I have no way of getting there” wasn’t a good enough excuse to get out of it, my dad drove me.  Side note: I was disqualified from serving on the jury because they didn’t feel a call center worker could be impartial in any case involving phone numbers.  True story.

Since almost fulfilling your civic duties really works up an appetite, my dad and I decided to stop and eat before we left town.  We finally settled on a Mexican place that looked like it struck the right balance of “affordable” and “not immediately regrettable.”  We sat down and looked at the menus in silence, as is the custom of dads and sons eating lunch together.  A realization slowly set in for both of us around the same time our waitress brought us water and asked if we were ready to order: this place was somehow way more expensive than we assumed it would be.

It sounds like we were just being tightwads, but there really was a huge disparity between the restaurant’s appearance (“typical cheap Mexican joint”) and its prices (“Aztec-inspired gastropub”).  Putting a cartoon jalapeño on your sign and then charging that much for tacos is just confusing.  It was like they ran out of menus so they just stole some from a much nicer restaurant across town.

We bought some time by telling the waitress we weren’t ready to order, then we discussed our options.  Do we just leave?  That’s rude, right?  We can’t just leave.  Do we just say we changed our minds?  Should we make up an excuse?

We settled on that strategy: make up an excuse.  And as the waitress returned to our table to take our orders, my dad pulled out his cell phone and started this conversation:

“This is Dr. Silvers.  Oh, okay, is he ready for surgery yet?”

What followed was my dad cramming as many medical-sounding terms into thirty seconds as he possibly could.  “Check his vitals.  Order a scan.  Stat.”  It shouldn’t have been even a little convincing, but the waitress was buying it!  She looked so genuinely worried about this made-up patient and his vague medical emergency that I feel sort of bad about it in retrospect.

She lowered her voice to ask me if everything was okay, and since I was apparently a lot less prepared for this than my dad, all I could come up with was, “Yeah, but we have to go to the hospital.”  And then an awkward beat, and then: “We’re doctors.”

I left her a tip, and my dad and I laughed all the way to the Chinese buffet down the street.  It was a good day.

Dad died a year ago yesterday.  It’s an absence I feel every time I need a laugh and he isn’t there to give me one.  Every time I (try to) write something funny, I’m reminded that I’m only able to do that because he left me with a sense of humor.  I shared these stories here today because I think my dad would like to know he’s still making people laugh.  Speaking of which, the last thing I want to share is this photo I found after Dad passed away:

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Just look at this guy!  He obviously knew he was taking a hilarious picture here, but there’s no way he could’ve guessed just how much his future son would laugh at this decades later.  Oh, Dad.  We all miss you so much.

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