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Proud Papa Wink

June 19, 2011

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

I haven’t left the reservation in a while, and I’m not exactly vacating my senses here, but with this being Father’s Day and me being a father . . . some thoughts:

I know now that most – but not all – of the times that I did not understand my father when I was a lad, it was his fault and not mine.

Here’s a fresh reminder of how I know that, presented to you in game form:

What do you get when you combine a jet ski, a water intake (on the hull, under the vessel), and a tow rope that’s not supposed to be under the jet ski?

Answer: two hours of hell.

So never mind how we lugged the jet ski out of the water and up onto the dock Sunday, just know that it was a beautiful example of teamwork.

For sake of transparency, it must be pointed out that during this sequence I was occasionally speaking in tongues. Nobody understood 50 percent of what I was saying. I was cycling universes: one where I was sane, and coordinating beautifully, and another where I was not sane.

I used no profanity, and unlike the first time this happened a few weeks ago (the first day we owned said jet ski), the cursed machine was not dropped on my big toe. So perhaps I made a little more sense this time than that.

Thank you, Tori, for applying sunscreen to my back and shoulders while I was trying to take that grate off the intake.

Thank you, Roni, for asking if I wanted that towel to slide under my butt on the dock while I was rooting around with kitchen knives, a couple sorry screw drivers, scissors and a couple kabob stakes trying to make sense of that rope.

Editor’s note: Damn, it figures the first time we go to the lake and I don’t bring my tools that this would happen.

Patrick Matthew, thank you for helping hold the jet ski on its side on the dock while I rooted around in there. And thank you for being patient. Your water-skiing adventure was interrupted. Your patience in the aftermath was welcome.

I will not point out here who it was when I asked if the rope was clear that said yes. It was not a family member, but I will not indict. That would be a poor example.

Overall, I’m proud of the way I handled this sequence, yet I know there were times when others were made uncomfortable because of me and my angst.

Truth be told, I appreciate the opportunity.

I would trade nothing, not money, material possessions, not a state of perpetual zen, nothing for these family moments even if sometimes my family drives me absolutely nuts.

My wife became involved in this process about one-third of the way into it. She diagnosed, made some observations about our primitive methods, and said somebody needed to go back up to the house and get marshmallow skewers because we needed something longer to get past the grate that would not release.

“OK, fine, don’t listen to me,” she said. “I’m the engineer here.”

My ego was a bit bruised by the suggestion, but the skewers were key. Patti (Principe), a Tech graduate (textile/chemical engineering or some iteration along those lines) made the key observation.

Thank you, Patti.

Really, though, this is about the fact that I’m honored and proud to be a father.

And I’m proud to be my father’s son.

He’s a retired engineer, aerospace and aeronautical engineering. Purdue undergrad, masters from Ohio State. Most of his career was spent in fighter design, the last so many years in missile design.

I bet he would’ve solved this problem faster than we did.

Unlike me, he’d have seen the need for skewers right off the bat.

No guarantee, though, that he would’ve made perfect sense in trying to communicate why.

And now, unlike the times when I was a lad, I understand why.

Happy Father’s Day, belatedly, to all fathers, especially mine. Comments to


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