You’ve got an impending visit to your family on the calendar, and boy are you excited to see everyone again. There’s just one cloud of anxiety hovering on the horizon. What on earth are you going to talk to your dad about all week? Don’t you worry, friend. I’ve got you covered with four abiding classics by your and your father’s shared comedy hero, Weird Al Yankovic.
“Smells Like Nirvana”
You were in pre-K when Kurt Cobain died, and you’ve grown up romanticizing that troubled young man with the strung-out eyes and the flowing, grime-coated locks. Remember that super cool Nirvana poster you hung in your room when you were sixteen? You dad sure does. It’s no secret the only reason it didn’t get snatched down right away is because your mom convinced him it was a harmless, rebellious phase that you would grow out of. Your father never really “got” grunge music, and he says that Cobain’s death is exactly the sort of thing that happens when you do drugs and shirk your responsibilities.
This is not a suitable topic of discussion with your father as long as you want to keep the peace. But you know what is? Weird Al’s “Smells Like Nirvana”. You and your father may enjoy it for very different reasons, but at the end of the day, you can always put on this song and say “Dad, have you heard this? It’s good,” and count on Dad to answer, “Yeah, I have. It is good.”
“Like a Surgeon”
Don’t even get your dad started on Madonna. He’s from another time, and what you see as pioneering feminism he sees as silly and attention-desperate. It’s like she was being provocative just to be provocative. He doesn’t understand why you would see such vapid songs and ridiculous costumes as empowering. In fact, it makes him concerned for you and your future relationships with men. Is this what you want to emulate? Do you even know what “Like a Virgin” is really about? No, he’s not going to tell you, but trust him, it’s beyond inappropriate.
You know better than to start a dialogue about women’s sexual liberation with your father. But here’s something you can start a dialogue about: Weird Al’s “Like a Surgeon.” Remember that video? It’s just the kind of celebration of goofiness that both you and Dad can get into.
“White and Nerdy”
Dad expected a lot of you as a kid, and you never quite seemed to live up. Plenty of your friends were impressed with your B- average in school (you took honors classes so honestly that’s more like an A), but it wasn’t good enough for your father. He always thought you could do better, that you were smarter than this. No matter how many times you tearfully begged him to cut you some slack and tried to convince him of your relative stupidity, he still maintained that you weren’t living up to your potential. It’s like what did he want you to be? A total freaking nerd geek?
Yes, yes he did, and it’s still a sore subject. But you know what’s not? Weird Al’s “White and Nerdy.” The next time the subject of mathematics comes up, intercept the conversation before it turns to your subpar pre-calc score from years ago (seriously, years ago, Dad!) by reminding Dad about this song. Soon enough you’ll be laughing together instead of glaring at each other across the dinner table.
Your family doesn’t really talk about the fact that you left the church and religion in general. Everyone knows it’s going to open a bigger can of worms than it’s worth. When you visit home, you quietly tag along with your parents on Sundays, but they know deep down you aren’t invested. You could never even begin to explain to your dad how religion made you a worse person and you’re so much more satisfied with your character since forsaking it. He could never understand.
Religion and conservatism are potential destruct buttons for your relationship with your father, but here’s something that’s not: Weird Al’s “Amish Paradise”. Dad’s views may be behind the times by your standards, but even he finds the ridiculousness of this Weird Al classic to be hilarious. You can enjoy a good chuckle over the juxtaposition of hip-hop music with an extreme conservative lifestyle, and your father can enjoy a good chuckle over those crazy Amish. Neither of you will be fighting over the existence of God.