“Hello. You’ve reached the voicemail for Dr. Randall. I’m not able to get to the phone right now, so please leave me a message. Remember, I hear poorly, so speak slowly.” Beeeeeep.

“Hey dad, it’s me. I need to talk to you about CBLO versus TPLO and tapeworms. Call me back!”

For the record, dad’s hearing is fine. Or mostly fine. Years of working next to squeeze chutes–despite wearing ear plugs–mean that while he won’t hear pins drop, he’s not ready to check out hearing aids. He just needs callers to slow down so that he can find a functioning pen and something on which to write phone numbers.

But I’m guessing that sometimes it’s not so great to be my dad, if we’re judging solely on the content of the messages I leave for him. I rarely if ever call up to ask him how he is doing or what he had for breakfast or normal dad stuff. Instead, I’m asking for advice on surgeries for torn ACLs on portly Labrador Retrievers (sorry Kaia, but you are) and what can be done about someone else’s dog that has tapeworms. But the thing is, Dad knows. Like off-the-top-of-his-head knows. And in the rare cases where he doesn’t, he knows just who to call.

Dad is kind of amazing this way. When people call me up, it’s because they want to know how to spell something or they want to know how to do something on the computer. My calls seem so tame next to his.

Okay, maybe I’m glad that no one asks me about tapeworms, but then I remember that they did. That’s how I wound up calling dad in the first place.

Dad kind of enjoys knowing this stuff. It makes him useful. It makes him interesting to talk with. It makes people laugh. Besides what else are you going to do with a storehouse of knowledge like this but share it? But one day, one fine day, I’m going to find a question that will stump even Dad and his infamous Rolodex. I have no idea what that fabled question will be, but once I’ve found it, I’ll report back. For a man that can talk at length on tapeworms, whatever question he cannot answer must be a doozie!