I’d like to call this meeting to order. Does everybody have a beer?” Randy Jackson looked around at the people gathered on the front lawn of the Jackson homestead. It was not a large crowd. Aside from Randy and his wife Jackie, there were only Brady, with his wife Amanda holding baby Michaela, and Jennifer with her boyfriend Alan. Off across the lawn Randy and Jackie’s children, Allison and Andy were playing together in the sandbox. They would not be part of the meeting.
Except for the children of course, everybody did indeed have a beer.
“I didn’t know we were having a meeting,” said Alan, who was relaxing in one of the coveted Adirondack chairs next to Jennifer who had snagged the other one. “I thought we were just getting together to hang out and barbecue some burgers.”
Jennifer reached out and patted Alan’s arm. “Don’t be alarmed,” she said. “It’s not a real meeting.”
“I beg to differ,” said Randy. “We have all met here on the lawn and we are going to talk about an important issue so that is the very definition of a meeting if I’m not mistaken.”
“What’s the issue?” said Alan. “Should we start by discussing the definition of a meeting? Because it may not be exactly what you think it is.”
Jennifer looked around at the others, then hooked her thumb towards Alan. “Jeez,” she said. “Who brought this guy?”
“He just wandered in,” said Brady. “He looked thirsty so I got him a brew. Apparently he’s staying for the meeting.”
“I’m staying for the barbecue,” said Alan. “If there’s a meeting involved, so be it.”
“Right,” said Randy. “I’ve already called the meeting to order so let’s just get to the issue. Father’s Day. Which is coming up fast. And the fact that we want to get our father something nice this year instead of forgetting about it like we usually do and just getting him another set of pliers because it’s 5:30 on Saturday and we still haven’t got anything and you can never have too many pairs of pliers.”
“Well said,” said Brady applauding loudly. “I vote we get him a vice grip.”
“No,” said Randy. “That’s a bad idea. You CAN have too many vice grips and Dad passed that threshold in 1982.”
“We need to think about this logically,” said Jennifer. “What is Dad’s favourite thing in the world?”
“Puns,” said Amanda. “Everybody knows that.”
“Oh yeah,” said Brady. “He does love his puns. Remember the time he got stopped for speeding on the way to the grocery store and when the officer asked him why he was in such a hurry he pulled out Mom’s grocery list and showed it to the cop and said, ‘Can’t you see? I’m in a race against thyme.’”
“That was a good one,” said Randy.
“Not his best though,” said Jennifer. “Remember the time we were discussing musical tastes Brady, and you went on a rant about how much you hated Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Dad said, ‘Boy, you sure know how to hold a grunge.’”
Brady nodded. “That was masterful,” he said. “That was a Dad joke at its very best.”
“How is this getting us any closer to getting a good Father’s Day present for your dad though?” asked Jackie. “What are you going to get him, an anthology of puns?”
Brady and Randy and Jennifer looked at each other. “I wonder if we could?” said Jennifer.
“NO!” said Amanda. “Bad idea. Bad children. You can do better.”
“OK, OK,” said Randy. “Next to puns, what are some of Dad’s favourite things, besides pliers and vice grips?”
“Pulling vehicles out of the mud with the tractor,” said Jennifer.
“Heckling the auctioneer at the cattle auction,” said Brady.
“Engelbert Humperdinck,” said Jackie.
There was a moment of silence.
“Of those three suggestions,” said Randy, “Engelbert Humperdinck is the only one that offers any hope of success for this meeting.”
“I agree,” said Jackie. “And it just so happens that Engelbert is going to be at the casino in Winnipeg for a show this fall.”
“Excellent,” said Randy. “Meeting adjourned.” He turned to Jackie. “Just FYI,” he said, “if our kids ever get me Engelbert Humperdinck tickets for Father’s Day, I will disown them both.”
“I would expect no less,” said Jackie. “I will see to it that your kids just stick to stuff from the Father’s Day Store.”
“The Father’s Day Store?” said Jennifer. “What’s that?”
“Canadian Tire obviously,” said Jackie.
“Oh duh,” said Jennifer. “I should have known that.”
“I need new pliers,” said Randy.
“Who doesn’t?” said Brady. “I mean really, who doesn’t?”