Tribute to Jan Masaryk with Love and Gravitas

by John Kaufmann

This is part four. Read the suite from the beginning


This is me, folding clothes with my thirteen year-old daughter.  “Could you imagine actually liking your father when you are, like, forty?”

“Jesus!  Nice to have a vote of confidence, Mei Mei!”

“Annie’s father is a pain.”

“Sam?  He seems kind of goofy, but he’s OK.”


“Yeah.  Didn’t Annie say that he pretends to, uh, crap her doll down through his shirt?”

“I didn’t hear that.”

“She told us.”

“She says that he gets angry easily.”

“Well – I’ve never seen it, but people like that often have quick tempers.”

“Even her mother says so.  In front of her.”

“Mommy loves her father, and she’s well over forty.”

“Yeah, but she’s –“

“Taiwanese.  But Ah-Gong really is a mensch.  That’s not xiao xun.  That’s just a great guy.”


“Maybe you’ll understand in thirty years, Young Lady.”

“Area Man Lectures Daughter!”

“Grandpa has been known to lose his temper from time to time too, you know.”

“Grandpa is a dinosaur.”

“His father – your -great grandfather – died when he was twelve.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Well, he did.  Grandpa was younger than you when he lost his father.  Wouldn’t you have liked that?  No father?”


“I think that that shaped him as a father.  Something was missing.  He tried to fill it with a void.  Unfortunately, I was that void.”


His father – my grandfather – the guy who died young – was supposedly a great guy.  He was an engineer.  I understand that he was quiet, reserved, gentle and decent.  I never knew him, of course.  Uncle Bob used to tell me that I looked like him.”

“Who was Uncle Bob?”

“My great uncle.  GG’s little brother.  Don’t you think it is strange that your great grandmother was named –“

JiJi!  Area Man Makes Inappropriate Bilingual Penis Joke with Daughter!”

His father – my great grandfather – got his PhD in chemistry in Germany.  He was worried that his son – your great grandfather – the guy who died young – spent too much time rowing crew when he was at MIT.  You know what MIT stands for?”

“Hah, hah!  Never heard this one before!”

“Made in Taiwan.”

“But Grandpa was a pain in the ass as a father.  Sorry – pain in the butt.”

“I can imagine.”

“Take these and put them in your bureau, please.”


“Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst?”

“Is everything with you either an obscure private reference or recycled content?”

“Clean your room while you are at it.  I have seen meth labs that are cleaner.”

“You’ve seen meth labs?”

“Not very good meth labs.  Mobile homes where people have been cooking meth.  We come in after they bug out, and clean em up.”


“They are a meth.”


“We digress!  Clean your damn room!”

“Breathe, Dad.  Relax.”

“Please and thank you.”

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