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Open It! This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   "Openit, Iguana, open it, open it!" I teased, as my dad opened the oddly wrappedpresent. This was one of our inside jokes which began last year when we saw thefunniest TV commercial. The obnoxious but humorous Pets.com sock puppet waspestering a live iguana to open his Christmas present, saying, "Open it,Iguana, open it, open it! What'd you get, Iguana?" The iguana just satthere, driving the excited puppet mad. It reminded Dad of his childhood when heteased his little sister, and it made me think of how my dad could act just likethe puppet.

I am an only child, but our house is never quiet because Dadfills it with excitement. At times, he is like a big brother. We laughed aboutthe commercial for weeks, so for Christmas, I knew I had to buy him hisown sock puppet.

When he ripped open the package, he was face to face withhis toy counterpart. At first, he didn't know whether to be happy or insulted.Maybe I had usurped his paternal role by giving him a child's toy. He said theobligatory, "You shouldn't have," perhaps actually meaning it, butwithin minutes, I was relieved to see the puppet on his hand and commenting onthe next presents.

What I love most about Dad is that he remains aresponsible adult without losing his sense of humor or childlike love for life.His favorite jokes, to everyone's chagrin, are puns. He is notorious for hisTyrannosaurus Rex series: What do you call a dino eating a taco? TyrannosaurusTex Mex. What do you call a dinosaur with big muscles? Tyrannosaurus Pecs. Thesejokes are funny in the weakest way, but many more are so atrocious that we meetthem with stone faces.

My dad has a great ability to maintain apositive outlook in order to comfort his loved ones. He has been battling coloncancer for five years, but even in the hospital he keeps up his banter so that Idon't see a suffering cancer patient. He can turn his situation around so that astay at the hospital seems enjoyable. He watches all the TV news he wants, chatswith the nurses and calls home complaining about the service. He hardly mentionsthe pain of the operations or the chemotherapy.

Dad can go from beingstrong and shielding me from the painful details of his disease one minute, tobeing a cookie-stealing older brother the next. I face a barrage of jokes andpuns daily. His humor and positive attitude will remain with me always, andsustain me through tough situations.

Mine is a father who cares, a friendto joke with, and a brother to tattle on. Right now, I am cataloging his list ofhorrific puns because I may need to use them at college next year. As I once saidwhile hiding a candy bar, it's good to have a few Twix up my sleeve.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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