The Source Of That Thing Daddy Always Says

Springfield has a new Denny’s, and it was inevitable that we would venture to the restaurant, the first of its kind in the city, because I spent an awful lot of late night time in my youth in a Denny’s, and I longed for a Super Bird and a bowl of vegetable beef soup.

Still, my children could not understand why I kept calling it Lenny’s.

Gather round, youngsters, and let me explain about the Corlick sisters.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Denny’s advertised on television (perhaps they still do, but we’ve been out of Denny’s television markets for five years now). The commercials featured two sisters, the Corlick sisters. One of them mishears what her sister says to comedic effect (much like Daddy does on occasion, although he’s the only one who thinks it’s funny). Then she mentions eating at “Lenny’s”, and her sister automatically corrects her to “Denny’s.”

I had a few of those free meals at Lenny’s. I recall one year visiting multiple Denny’s so that I could get the free meals. As a young man, I could eat a lot.

So my children know about the Corlick sisters. I would have alluded to the commercials when interacting with the wait staff, but everyone working there was younger than the commercials.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

The Origin of That Other Thing Daddy Always Says

When we’re driving and I see a jogger, I often say, “There’s a jogger. I wonder if his/her name is Jaromir.”

That’s based on a mispronunciation of Jaromír Jágr, a player in the National Hockey League ten years ago when my beautiful wife and I watched a lot of hockey.

And he’s back. He’s going to turn 41 next month, and he’s playing center for the Dallas Stars this season.

Given that the oldest boy is starting to pay attention to hockey and very well might see the Dallas Stars in action, he will not only remember that thing that Daddy always says, but he might have first hand knowledge of watching the player who inspired it.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Origin of That Thing Daddy Always Says

When it comes time to apply sunscreen to my children in the summer, I’m prone to saying to the children, “Everybody’s free to wear sunscreen.”

That’s the title of a song by Baz Luhrmann from 1999.

I remember it because 1999 was a pivotal year in my life: I got married, moved from an apartment into a rental house that would be my first home with my beautiful wife, and I remember hearing that song on the radio in my office in that new house. The song charted and reached #10.

I remember when I heard the song that I recognized it; not because I’d seen it in an email forward that said Kurt Vonnegut had written it. No, my friends, I’d seen the original column by Mary Schmich. I’d gotten my first office desk job as a technical writer in the explosion of the Internet but before the rise of blogs, so I spent a lot of time in those days reading the Web sites of major city dailies, like the Chicago Tribune (along with the Chicago Sun-Times, Washington Post, New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, Washington Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and so on and so on). When I found I liked a columnist, like Mary Schmich (and Bob Greene and John Kass), I read their complete archives. So I was familiar with the column before the song came out.

But the song, too, sticks with me even now. You don’t hear it on the radio any more and probably won’t find it on any K-Tel collections of music from the 1990s (although I hear Grunge Rock is going to be huge–well, turn it up, man!).

The only place you’d hear it any more is the backwater corners of the Internet. Or, if you’re my children, almost every day, every summer.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories