There is nobody in the world I take after more than my father, David Ross, so it might seem a tad bit egotistical when I say Dad was a great man. Nobody has ever accused me of being humble, although I have eaten humble pie on more occasions than I would like to admit.
Despite the many choices in life we are all given, Dad believed more often than not that there was a single choice, the right choice, his choice, and he remained to his dying day in disbelief that all did not share this opinion.
In the old days of my youth back in the 1950s, the ice cream king was undeniably Howard Johnson, which proudly advertised that it served 28 varieties of ice cream. Dad believed that 27 of those varieties were a complete waste. There was only one flavor, chocolate, and he just couldn’t begin to comprehend why everybody on this planet did not have a love affair with chocolate.
“Dad,” I explained, “people have different tastes. That’s why Howard Johnson serves so many different flavors. They want to appeal to all the people, not just to some.”
“Yes,” Dad responded, “I know that some people might like tutti frutti, but nobody in their right mind is going to like any flavor more than chocolate. That’s just plain crazy.”
Dad could never understand why men wore earrings. One night we were watching a basketball game, and Dad wanted to know why a strapping man like Charles Barkley was wearing an earring. “Burt, try to explain to me, if you possibly can, why a man would wear an earring. Maybe Barkley likes other men.”
“No, Dad, Charles Barkley doesn’t like other men. He wears earrings because they are decorative. In other words, for the same reason women wear them.”
Dad was not impressed. “Yeah, that’s fine and good, but now tell me why Barkley wears earrings?” My dad was not looking for an explanation. This was his way of saying that, in his opinion, men should not be wearing earrings—period, end of conversation.
Dad’s unwillingness to accept that there was more than one way of looking at something drove me bonkers, but with each passing year, I am, of course, becoming more like my father. Just the other day I heard myself telling a friend, “Why would anybody live in New York, or anywhere else for that matter, when they could live in California?”
It won’t be long before my son explains to me, “Dad, people have different tastes. That’s why they live in 50 states.”
I miss you, Pop!