Monday, March 4, 2019

Who's Paying? I Guess I Am!

as featured in Desert Exposure Magazine
My father walks every day--EVERY day--rain or shine.
    Trust me, I know because I have to listen to him complain how much his feet hurt when he gets back. Part of me wishes he'd stay home, that way I can keep an eye on him, but another part of me realizes when he's not here I don't have to watch baseball on TV. It also gives me a chance to sneak away and do something special with one of my grandkids.
    Like in January, for example, I took my granddaughter to see a special showing of The Wizard of Oz.* Interestingly enough, there were mostly adults in the audience. Very few kids. A group of ladies sat next to us. They came in late, then left to go get food. They couldn’t have done that BEFORE they entered the theater? I said nothing, even though I wanted to. My granddaughter was enjoying the experience, plus this is a different time we live in.
    The lady who sat right next to us then answered a few text messages on her phone. It was distracting. To me, at least. Again, my granddaughter was transfixed by what was on the screen. I held my mud and said nothing.
    A few minutes later, my granddaughter finished the popcorn in her kid’s box and wanted more, but she didn’t want to miss whatever came next for Dorothy. I weighed my options. The lady sitting next to us came in with three other women. They were all grandmotherly types, so I asked if she would watch my granddaughter while I made a quick trip to the concession stand. She was glad to. I was off and back as quick as a flying monkey.
    When I got back I thanked her.
    “Your granddaughter is a darling,” she told me.
    “She’s a good girl,” I agreed.
    I thought to myself: “Sometimes it’s better to hold your mud.”
    Getting back to my father, I've mentioned before I enjoy hiking. I know a thing or two about shoes. My father benefits from this knowledge. As a result, he wears the best shoes my money can buy. I say “my” money, because my father can afford to pay for his own shoes, but affording to and actually doing it are two separate things.
    Many a time we've gone to Costco and I'll see an item in our cart magically appear out of nowhere. It could be a pack of 50 little cheeses with a smiling cow on the label. I like cheese, but I don't want to eat 50 little packages of them. Neither does my father. He'll eat one, complain about how it stopped him up, and then the rest my wife will have to imaginatively include in the meals she prepares. Or it could be a box of 48 corn dogs. I like corn dogs, but FORTY-EIGHT?
    "Pop," I'll tell him when the box mysteriously appears in the cart. I don't know how he does it. One moment something's not there. The next something is. He's pretty quick for an old guy. Anyway… "Pop, are you in the mood for a corn dog?"
    "What?" is his usual reply.
    "A corn dog. Are you in the mood for one?"
    "Am I in the mood for what?"
    "A corn dog."
    "A what?"
    "A corn dog."
    I think my father tries to wait me out. If he keeps asking me to repeat what I've just asked him, he probably figures I'll get tired and quit, but I'm shopping with my wife. What else is there for me to do?
    "Why do you ask?" my father says, suspiciously.
    "I can't help but notice you put a box of 48 corn dogs in the cart."
    “I did?” he’ll say.
    I'll point at the box. He'll look at it as if he's never seen it before in his life.
    "If you want a corn dog,” I’ll tell him, “why don't we go to the snack bar? I’ll buy you one."
    See? I'm not such a bad guy. I don't mind buying my father a corn dog. What I mind is buying 48 of them, him eating only one, and then us having to get rid of the remaining 47. It’s gotten to the point my dogs run into the other room whenever I open the fridge.
    "Oh, I don't want one now," my father will reply.  "I want one for later."
    "Are you sure? We can go to the snack bar. A corn dog sounds pretty good."
    "I'm sure."
    "I'm kind of hungry myself."
    "I said I'm sure."
    When my father's sure, he's sure. Unless he isn't. Although, even when he isn't, it still costs me money, because, out of stubborness, he'll pretend he is.
    Which is a long way of explaining how my father loves buying things. What he doesn't love is PAYING for those things, so he'll drop them in our cart, knowing they will magically get paid for. No "Hey, can you buy me this?"  No "Thanks, son." No "What are you going to do with the 47 corn dogs you'll have left over?"
    My point, and I do have one, is when it comes to buying my father shoes, I don't skimp. I don't skimp with what goes on my feet, and I'd be a jerk if I skimped on what went on his.
    The only problem is my father's feet.
    They’re old.
    Just like the rest of him.
You know what DOESN’T get old? The laughs at,, or @JimDuchene.
*Special thanks to Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies, and Cinemark. Some movies are meant to be seen on the big screen.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Walking Papers? Walking SHOES!

as featured in Desert Exposure Magazine
My father walks every day--EVERY day--rain or shine.
     Maybe it's a habit he picked up when he was in the military. Maybe it's a habit he picked up as his body started showing the wear and tear of aging. Maybe he just wanted to be ready whenever the opportunity to be romantic with my mom in their later years presented itself.
     Personally, I think my father walks because he believes that as long as he's walking he'll never die. The only problem is his mind is willing, but his body is letting him down. Starting with his feet.
     "I need a new pair of walking shoes," he tells me, as he walks into the kitchen where I'm at. I'm reading the newspaper at the table, and he's carrying with him a well-worn pair of New Balance that he has never complained about before. "These hurt my feet."
     "What's wrong with them?" I ask.
     He looks at me as if I'm stupid.
     "I told you, they hurt my feet."
     "Yeah, but HOW do they hurt your feet? Are they too tight? Rubbing against your heel? Giving you blisters?"
    "They just hurt."
    Having made his complaint known, he then puts them on, and goes on his walk. My wife walks into the kitchen about then.
    "Want some coffee?" she says.
    "Of course, sweetie," I tell her. "I would have made some myself, but nobody makes coffee like you."
    "You just say that,” she tells me, “because you're too lazy to make your own.”
    She thinks I'm kidding when I compliment her, but it's true. She does make excellent coffee. I don't know how she does it. I can used the exact same ingredients, the exact same equipment, and make it the exact same way, but her coffee will always turn out better than mine, so, even though the first thing I want when I wake up is a cup of coffee, I'll wait for my wife to make it for me.
    Armed with a freshly brewed cup of coffee, I go out to the front patio to finish reading my newspaper. After awhile, my father returns. He looks tired. He was gone less than a half-hour, but he still looks pretty beat. I look at him walking toward me. There was a time when he could work all day and dance all night, but that time has come and gone.
    Myself, I like to hike. I can go off into the mountains and hike for hours. Sometimes I'll take my dog, but most times I'll just hike by myself. The time will come for me, too, I suppose, when a walk up and down the street will be more effort than it's worth.
    My father sits down beside me.
    "I need a new pair of walking shoes," he tells me again. I'm sure he's been thinking about this his whole walk. "These hurt my feet."
    I don't say anything. I don't want to travel the same trail I hiked down earlier.
    "After I walk three miles, my feet hurt," he explains. "They’ve never hurt before."
    I want to stay out of it... but I can't.
    "Are you sure it's the shoes that make your feet hurt?" I ask him.
    My father makes a disgusted, snorting sound.
    "Of course it's the shoes," he says, and snorts again. "My feet have never hurt before."
    I must admit, he has a point, but, then again, he's not the young pup he used to be, either. Even at my age, after a good night's sleep, the first thing I want to do is take a nap.
    "If you want, pop, I'll take you to the store and you can buy a new pair of shoes."
    "Don't trouble yourself, son. I'll go with your wife the next time she goes to Costco."
    I smile to myself at this. I know the reason he would rather go with my wife. If he goes with me, he'd have to pay for them himself. If he goes with my wife, he'll just put the shoes in her cart, and SHE’LL pay for it.
    I don't mind buying things for my father. What I mind is he doesn't even pretend to take out his wallet, and we usually end up with things we don't need, like 48 corn dogs or 120 miniature cream puffs. I tell my wife constantly, "I don't mind spending money. What I mind is WASTING money." My father, on the other hand, doesn't mind wasting money, as long as the money being wasted isn't his.
    Another thing that bothers me is he refuses to say "please" or "thank you." You know who taught me that particular quirk? My father. Growing up I would always have to say "please" or "thank you," and, once grown, I understood the importance of those words. My father, on the other hand, has grown older backwards. "Please" and "thank you" no longer have any importance to him.
    My wife comes outside to bring him a cup of coffee and then goes back inside.
    "Whew!" my father says, letting out a big rush of air. "I'm beat. That was some walk, let me tell you."
    "Where'd you go?"
    My father had to think about it a bit. And then he thought about it some more.
    "Oh, I just went to the end of the block and back."
    "To the end of the block and back?"
    "Yeah, the end of the block and back. Can't you hear?"
    I ignore that. My Dad's tired. I'm sure he's got various aches and pains to contend with. As do I.
    Especially once my father wakes up.
Walk on over to,, or @JimDuchene.
Your stomach will ache… from laughter.