My dad’s 54th birthday was on Monday. We celebrated last night with dinner at Stadium Camellia because my father is a consummate carnivore.
Name: Alden Higa
Other Known Aliases: Al, Coach Al (when wearing cap), King Walrus, the Baron of Beef
Other Known Aliases I Spent All of Last Night Coming Up With: Prime Minister of Prime Rib, Sultan of Sirloin, Ruler of Ribs, King of Kalbi, Bacon Boss, Hamburger Hero, Chancellor of Chocolate, Pot Roast Prince, Ribeye Raja
Favorite Foods: meat, chocolate
Favorite Sports Teams: Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta Braves
Hobbies: tending to herbs and plants at home, cooking, baseball (when wearing cap)
My dad might lack the overall speed and athleticism of his youth, but you’d never know it by the way he attacked the containers of raw meat set up near our table. While I was still trying to figure out Madison’s seating arrangement, I looked up and my dad was already dropping piles of meat onto his plate. He’s been saying “You snooze, you lose” for my entire life, but it’s not just some kind of psychological ploy to get his kids to the dinner table. It’s the way he lives his life, like Vin Diesel’s quarter-mile at a time.
I was most glad I had time to talk to Paul and my parents because I see them the least since I have Matty and sometimes Tanya on Mondays. As we were winding down at dinner, my dad made one last meat run. He asked if Paul and I would like more or something. We both told him we wanted bbq beef, Paul specifically said “just a little.” A few moments later, dad returned with a pile of raw bbq beef. “That’s so much!” Paul said.
“But it’s so thin!” my dad shot back. “That means there’s so much in there!” I said.
There are many ways I could describe my father, but I feel like this example does it justice. Sometimes, I think he’s lived in a full house for so long that he’s completely lost perspective on how much food an average human can eat. I imagine that when he cooks, he considers himself and Matty as “two average humans,” which is really closer to three-and-a-half. Even when we didn’t have a lot of money, my father always cooked way more food than necessary. “I never want anyone to feel like they have to hold back,” he once explained to me. “If we have left-overs, you just pack them up and send it home. I’d rather that than run out of food.”
He’s always been generous in this way, sometimes at his own expense. Not just with food but also with his time, his possessions, his energy. At 54, he’s not as limber as when he used to drive the Dodge, but if there’s a buffet line, his granddaughter, or someone who needs help around, he’ll surprise you with world-class quickness.
Happy birthday, dad.