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To Be Perfectly Frank

To Be Perfectly Frank
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BY LORRAINE DUFFY MERKL

“Just wondering if I’ll ever get a big boy office like this one day,” asks “Danny Reagan” (Donnie Wahlberg) of his Police Commissioner father, “Frank” (Tom Selleck).

Blue Bloods’ patriarch has been my hero since 2010, when the series premiered. Less “ripped from the headlines” police procedural and more four generations family drama, the show, which just completed its 7th season, has been renewed for an 8th, with rumors that CBS plans to let it keep going for at least 10.

I see the aforementioned office as a metaphor for life. Will Danny, or actually I, ever be the grown up that Frank is? Even though I’m on the other side of 50, there are other adults who make me feel like a 20-year-old—and not in a good way; more in the vein of awkward, childlike, and inexperienced.

The Franks of the world just know how to handle every situation, and are so confident in their own beliefs and standards that they can’t be intimidated. And although he can take out a serial killer with single shot, it’s his old-school Brooklyn delivery that always lands the final blow.

Yes, I know Frank is a work of fiction and everything he says comes from the pen of a writer. But Tom Selleck, who I’ve loved since I was in college and he was the spokesmodel for Ralph Lauren’s men’s cologne Chaps, plays him so convincingly, that the character has come to represent everyone I’ve ever met who’s more quick-witted than me, and left me uttering, “Wish I would’ve thought to say that.”

Frank’s comebacks aren’t puerile, or “zingers” a la a sitcom character. They’re more like him letting it be known that he gives as good as he gets. And he’s got range.

There’s his endearing, Will Rogers wisdom, as when he was explaining adult life to his two grandsons: “If a month comes and you can make rent or the car payment, but not both, make the car payment. Because you can always sleep in your car, but you can’t drive your house.”

But his specialty is his folksy, Father Knows Best conversation enders: “This is and will always be an equal opportunity family and I will throw quiche and a hissy fit at anyone who says otherwise;” “Pop, it’s Sunday dinner, not Face the Nation;” and my personal favorite, “Ding. Back to your corners. Pass the potatoes please.”

To prove his apples didn’t fall far from the tree, Frank also enjoys Nick & Nora-type repartee:

Erin: I guess I owe you an apology.
Frank: Or at least a good bottle of Scotch.

Down at 1PP, though, everyone knows he means business. Sometimes with a light touch:

Public Information Officer Garrett Moore: You’ll play nice?
Frank: Right up until nice doesn’t work.

Reverend Potter: Frank Reagan, coming to me hat in hand.
Frank: I don’t wear hats.

Attorney Preston Morris: You’re a real piece of work Reagan.
Frank: Oh please, call me by my first name, Commissioner.

The rest of the time he’s deadly serious, but nonetheless poetic: “You’ve got a badge in your pocket and a gun in your holster. You damn sure better not have a drink in your hand.”

And when people try to dazzle him with B.S., Frank’s mastered the art of repeating their drivel back to them, so they can see the absurdity of what they’re saying: “You’re threatening to fire me from a job you don’t control that you can’t know I want.” Then with just a look he conveys the kicker, “Seriously?”

Not even the clergy is spared.

Cardinal: May I quote Scripture?
Frank: Not unless you want to put me to sleep.

What I want to emulate, though, is the way Frank always manages to take the high road: “I’m going to give you the respect you didn’t give me.”

Maybe someday before I die, I’ll carry myself with his I’m-a-grownup-don’t-mess-with-me bravado. Or as Frank has been known to say, “You might as well go out with a bang and an open bar, right?”

 

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Lorraine Duffy Merkl
Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels BACK TO WORK SHE GOES and FAT CHICK, for which a movie version is in the works.