"Can you get me a pack of my signature gum?" my daughter, Caroline, asked me as I was headed out to the store.
"What's your signature gum?" I asked.
"You don't know? It's Orbit, Wintermint. I've always chewed it."
"Really? You're only a few months away from having your braces removed. While they were on, you were forbidden to chew gum, so in the last few months you developed a signature gum?"
She paused. "Yes ... I would have to say yes ... Yes is my answer."
I have lived my whole life without a signature gum. Or for that matter a signature anything. I didn't realize we were supposed to have signature items.
I asked my other daughter, Julia, about whether she understood what Caroline was talking about. She instantly spouted that her signatures were cookie dough ice cream and the color pink. Julia is forbidden to have a signature gum because she still has very expensive braces.
Everyone had a signature. I asked my wife what hers was, and she responded, "Wouldn't you know that? Shouldn't you know that after 23 years?"
I didn't know hers, I didn't even know mine, so I tried to drop the subject.
My daughters were concerned that I had no signature items. With their help I was able to identify my signatures in the areas of drink, footwear, and cheese. Because of them, I am now able to realize and embrace these items.
When I gave up caffeine a few years ago, I had to find a substitute for Dr Pepper and Diet Coke. After my headaches went away, I settled on seltzer. Seltzer water has the same carbonation that tickles your throat on the way down, without the other crap, so I order seltzer at every restaurant I go to. We even have a seltzer maker at home. My signature drink is seltzer.
When I am not working, I usually wear Teva sandals from April until November. They are good for running around town and even kayaking. Even in February, my daughters pointed out, they can still see my tan lines from my Tevas. Signature footwear: Teva.
I acquired my signature cheese from my Norwegian roommates in college, Arne and Biago. Actually I am unsure of the exact spelling and prononunciation of Biago. We always told everyone that it was just like "Billygoat" without the "T" at the end. Now that I think about it, I think you remove the middle L's also. On reflection, his name didn't have much in common with "Billygoat."
Occasionally, their parents would send them huge blocks of goat cheese from Norway. It was a creamy caramelized sweet cheese that was delicious on a hard roll or cracker. I have loved that cheese ever since the first moment it touched my lips. It's sold in America as Ski Queen brand. The only problem was, when their parents sent them the cheese, they sent them some spending money, which led to the purchase of their signature drink: Carlsberg Elephant Malt Liquor.
James Bond had a signature drink: A martini, shaken not stirred. They did not have those tastes. They had Elephant Malt Liquor. Thank God, after college, I never acquired that signature drink.
The malt liquor wasn't even from Norway. It was from Denmark. The first few nights after the money came did not have signature endings. They had predictable endings. My head still hurts all these years later. We eventually recovered. We were young, just a few years older than my daughter is now.
I guess I should be happy she just wants gum.
I dread the day when, as I prepare to go to the store, she screams out, "Dad, my friend Billygoat is coming over. Will you pick me up some caramelized cheese and malt liquor?
Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His "A Father's Journal" appears every other Wednesday. He can be reached at email@example.com.