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Thursday, November 23, 2017

What my Dad Means when He Says the Word

by Robert Lanterman (writer), Boise, ID, January 03, 2017

When my dad says things are "neat", he doesn't necessarily mean that they're cool, admirable, or fascinating.

As Christmas leaves us, I find myself reflecting on the holiday’s most tenured traditions. Grandma’s cooking, Christmas tree decorating, presents on the morning of, etc. One thing that I find to be commonly overlooked about holidays and basically all family gatherings, however, is my dad’s frequent usage of the word “neat”. “Neat,” now that I think about it, may be his go-to word. Maybe your dad says “neat,” maybe he says “swell,” and hopefully he doesn’t say “fresh.” Regardless, here’s the three different ways my dad uses the word “neat,” and to better understand holidays and family time, I think I need to examine each one individually.

The “Let Me Elaborate on What You’re Showing Me” Neat

Do you ever tell someone something you’re excited about, and it reminds them of something related, which they proceed to talk about for fifteen minutes? Or, they have an uninvited opinion on what you’re showing them, which they also talk about for fifteen minutes? My dad does that, and it usually starts with “oh, neat!” Granted, sometimes he asks a question, but the rabbit trails can be confusing. For instance, he’ll come to a show my band is playing, and will ask “how do you guys sell to people with credit cards?” I’ll tell him that cheap tickets are intentional and important in all corners, and I’ll show him our Square Reader, and he’ll say “oh, neat!” and then proceed to tell me about how a lot of businesses recently got chip readers, as well as why they changed from card swipes to chip readers, and then maybe he’ll bring it back to how we should get a chip reader. I’m not really sure what the point of him telling us this is, since there’s actually not a free device that lets you do that mobily. Just wait until he finds out that you can check in to a concert with just a selfie.

The Courtesy Neat

You know when you tell someone about something you’re excited about and their response is something like “cool” or you know they don’t care or aren’t listening? Like when you were young and you showed your parents how you beat all of the gym leaders in Pokemon Blue and they didn’t care? Or how you showed your dad how your ska band all got matching fedoras and… nevermind. You know what I’m saying though. Maybe they give you a smile and nod, but that’s about it? Sometimes, in place of all that, my Dad will say “neat”. Don’t get me wrong, I understand it. I definitely would rather shrug off some of the things he is interested in for example, chemistry, or me not spending my savings account (my bad). But I try to listen, still. He doesn’t really realize that he’s shrugging me off when he says “neat” that way, but to be honest that makes it funnier in hindsight.

The “Let me Show You My New Computer” Neat

This is when your dad starts the conversation to tell you about something he genuinely thinks is really neat, but then elaborates on it for much too long. For my dad, it’s a new computer, or an iphone, or a tablet. Other dads seem to really like strange tools, like science tools that look like lawnmowers or particularly fancy power tools. A recent one I experienced was my dad’s license plate frame that has cameras in it connecting to his phone. It was really cool, but I got it the first time. Still, these are the best kinds of “neat” things my my Dad could tell me about, because they’re things he is genuinely excited about. And it’s special for him to share them with his son. However, he could probably cut the conversation down a bit, as these conversations often occur during dinner time and I care more about food than new toys and operating systems.

Let’s talk about our dads together. Hit me up on Twitter @robolitious.



About the Writer

Rob Lanterman is a writer/musician living in Boise, ID. He graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor's in Business. When he's not playing music or indulging in freelance writing (a large part of his day job), he's probably writing bios for himself in third person. He also runs a punk rock record label Hidden Home Records.
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