Tuesday, January 16, 2007


"Anh-anh, ee-see, ooh-ooh!"  was one of the things my Dad used to say to my older sisters Karen, Gail and me as we were growing up.  Translated, it meant: "You girls had better calm down before somebody gets hurt!"  I want to say that it was just overprotective advice.  But I still have the tiny scar across my right eyebrow, as a reminder that it was true.  I was about six, Gail fourteen.  She was lying spread eagled, face up, in the middle of the living room floor.  She held one arm in the air while I held her hand and ran in circles around the obstacle course of her arm-leg-leg-arm-leg-leg..., over and over, giggling louder with every successful turn around her body.  Dad's "Anh-anh, ee-see, ooh-ooh!" should have been enough for me to put the brakes on.  Instead, I ended up proving the wisdom of his warning, by tripping over "arm" and going forehead first into the corner of the coffee table.

Dad would also tell us:  "All I want is ladies!"  That usually came if we were laughing too loudly or said something approaching inappropriate.  Dad said that one to us a lot.  Dad wanted Jane Austen era demure from us.  Instead, he got three baby-boomer, mini-skirt clad girls, riding the wave of 1960's social upheaval right into the women's liberation movement.    It was not an easy time for Dad.

As we grew up, moved out, got married, and my sisters had children, Dad came up with a new phrase:  "What's the Chill Factor?"  He still used "Anh-anh, ee-see, ooh-ooh!", especially with the grandkids.  And he still said all he wanted was ladies.  But after so many decades there was an air of resignation in his reading of that line.  So, "What's the Chill Factor?" became the comment of last resort for Dad.  He often asked it when we were gathered around the dining room table and the conversation veered off onto some topic which Dad deemed beyond the pale of what his demure, delicate, dream daughters should be talking about.  It would always crack us up, Dad too, and nearly always cause us to change the subject.

Today would have been Dad’s 87th birthday, but he passed from Alzheimer's in 1988.  I still miss him like crazy.   We still gather around the same old dining room table, now at Mom's condo.   As we get to laughing, joking and telling some unladylike stories on each other,  I think I can hear Dad's voice - a distant "Anh-anh, ee-see, ooh-ooh!"   But then I really hear it.  Someone of us, who doesn't want to continue to discuss an embarrassing childhood incident, will ask: "What's the Chill Factor?"  and I swear, that's the moment I can hear Dad laughing right along with us.

Happy Birthday Dad. We love you and miss you.


barbie2be said...

oh, our fathers were the same age. i also lost my dad in 1988. much too young if you ask me. my dad's birthday was last thursday. ironically, it is also the day he died.

thanks for stopping by my place today!

Gail said...

I haven't thought about this expression in years!!!!! keep 'em comin'

Anonymous said...

What is the chill factor???
Boy,I was such a thorn in his side!