Getting on a conference call with Bill Geist, veteran “CBS Sunday Morning” correspondent, and his son, NBC morning news host Willie Geist, is like walking into a friendly neighborhood bar and sitting in between two chatty guys who’ve known each other a long time.
The two are on the road promoting their new book, the first they’ve written together, titled “Good Talk, Dad: The Birds and the Bees . . . and Other Conversations We Forgot to Have.”
Although most of the stories it contains took place in the New Jersey suburbs where the family lived when Willie was a kid, one tale takes place during a summer visit to Nantucket.
“Willie was with me,” Bill says, figuring his son was around 8 or 9 at the time. The two were taking a spin in the family’s new red Jeep, looking for a beach they could drive on. “I just suddenly realized that Willie and I were entering a nude beach,” Bill says. “And there were some very good-looking young women there. I sort of feigned car trouble. Put up the hood, looked at the engine.”
It was, he admits, “probably a terrible fathering moment.” His son pipes up, with perfect timing: “As if you would’ve had any idea what was going on in the engine!”
The whole family is funny. “To keep up at our dinner table you better have a sense of humor,” Willie says. “It’s sort of a survival tactic.”
Underneath the silliness, there’s a solid core. Being a good father, just like being a good worker, is something both Geists — each has a son and a daughter — take seriously.
“I’m not sure I have a complete, well-developed philosophy about parenting,” Bill says. “But forget about quality time, and just spend as much time as you possibly can with your kids. So many things, so many values, just rub off by osmosis.”
Willie agrees. “It’s the most basic thing, and almost sounds like a cliché, but showing up is half the job.”
The Geists, father and son, will read together at 3 p.m. Saturday at Wellesley Books, 82 Central St., Wellesley.Kate Tuttle, a writer and editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.