LIBRA HOROSCOPE (from astrology.com): You don’t usually have a hard time communicating with people — but you might find it hard to reach them today! It’s still worth the effort, especially with those you are already close to.
While Mom was off “sale-ing” at garage sales, Dad and I had our own garage issues. I showed up just after 9, ready to hit Home Depot. Dad was in the garage, sitting in his lawn chair beside the space heater, reading the Sports section of The Sun.
“Ready?” I asked, feeling chipper and naively hoping to complete the reorganization by noon so I could hit a shoe sale with Nadia after lunch.
He didn’t look up from the paper. “For what?”
And sigh. Should’ve seen it coming. Dad will agree to do something just to get people (usually, Mom) off his back. Then, he just hopes the task will go on the never ending To-Do list, taking its place far behind “take down Christmas lights” (from 2001) and “remove dead rhodo bush” (2003).
I glanced around the garage and noticed the pile of discard tools had disappeared, with the broken shovel and the busted hedge trimmer mixed back in with all the clutter. “Dad.” No answer. No movement.
“Dad!” Hoarder still unresponsive.
He shuffled the paper to turn to the next page. “Heard you the first time.”
Bigger sigh. “The socially appropriate thing to do is respond when someone calls you.” Oh, gawd. I heard my mother’s voice come out. When Dad goes all ostrich-in-sand, it’s hard not to harp.
And it only got worse. I had to yank the newspaper out of his hand—well, after the tear, he retained the bottom portion of the back page—and take away his coffee mug. With the promise of a stop for real coffee on Commercial, I got him he to grab the keys to his truck. Although I really needed the caffeine soothie ASAP, I insisted we hit Home Depot first. No way was Dad going to get me with a feigned headache right after Café Calabria.
Shopping for storage tubs, Dad was like a five-year-old boy having to try on suits. “How do you like these, Dad?” Shoulder shrug. “What about these?” He never looked up, fiddling with a couple loose screws in the palm of his hand. I stopped consulting Dead Dad Walking and we managed to fill the back of the truck with pegboard, two dozen storage bins, three shiny new aluminum trash cans and a new snow shovel. (Granted, he could go many months without a chance of snow, but I figured it was the only way to get him to part with that stump of a shovel back home.)
Our café stop was quicker and quieter than usual. He couldn’t (or wouldn’t?) concentrate on conversation and kept peeking out to see if anyone was stealing his new (unneeded?) goods from the truck. I grabbed a couple To Go cups and we were on our way.
Back at Ground Zero, Dad stood back as I started trying to sort things. Then I baited him with a question about Luongo and he launched into a tirade about lazy goaltending that got him so riled he couldn’t help but use his hands and join in the sorting. His ire toward Luongo shifted to being irked with me. “Those don’t go together!” he said as he took the used paint rollers out of the tub of paint-splattered old clothes. Five minutes later, I was the spectator.
By 12:30, I announced I was leaving after promising (threatening?) to spend all of Easter Sunday redoing the whole thing—maybe even tossing paint rolls back in with old pairs of jeans—if I showed up for brunch and found the job incomplete. He muttered something which I didn’t ask him to repeat. No need for a “French” lesson from Dear Old Dad.
Once back in my car, I let out one more rattled exhale. Bond with Dad, check! Time to reward myself with a new pair of shoes.
JERRY BUZZED MY CONDO JUST AFTER 8. I WAS GROGGY, STILL IN BED. IN FACT, I THINK HE INTERRUPTED MY DREAM. I WAS ABOUT TO GRAB MY OWN GRABNER MOMENT, TAKING A PASS FROM WILLIE MITCHELL & LOOKING @ A WIDE OPEN NET TO COMPLETE MY HAT TRICK. THE BLARE OF THE BUZZER RUINED EVERYTHING. IT CAN BE HARSH AWAKENING TO REALITY. I WASN’T A CANUCK &, DAMMIT, WILLIE STILL WASN’T EITHER.
“I GOTTA THROW ON SOME CLOTHES. YOU WANNA COME UP?” I ASKED.
“NO. I’LL WAIT.” HE SOUNDED GRUMPY. YOU’D THINK I’D SPOILED HIS CANUCK DREAMS! COURSE I KNEW WHY HE WAS HERE.
WE WALKED OVER TO STARBUCKS W/A LITTLE HOCKEY TALK—HE WAS A FLAMES FAN, ONLY 1 OF THE MANY REASONS I DIDN’T LIKE HIM. COFFEE IN HAND, HE SPILLED IT: “I NEED TO MAKE THIS CLEAR. YOU FUCKIN’ LEAVE MY KIDS ALONE!”
WHOA. HARSHER THAN WHAT I’D EXPECTED. “UH,…I’M THE UNCLE.”
“EXACTLY! I’M THE FATHER!”
“SO ACT IT.”
FOR A SECOND, IT LOOKED LIKE HE’D TAKE A SWING @ ME. GOOD THING HE THOUGHT BETTER OF IT. I AM, AFTER ALL, FIVE INCHES TALLER & 60 LBS HEAVIER. JERRY WAS NO FIGHTER. MIGHT HAVE BITCH-SLAPPED HIS SISTER ONCE, BUT THAT’S ALL. GUESSIN’ SHE MADE HIM LEARN HIS LESSON.
INSTEAD OF PHYSICAL ACTION, HE CHOSE TO GLARE @ ME. YOU KNOW HOW PARENTS TELL YOU NOT TO MAKE AN UGLY FACE? HOW THE WIND IS GONNA BLOW A CERTAIN WAY & THAT LOOK’S JUST GONNA FREEZE ON YOUR FACE? WELL, I DIDN’T FEEL THE GUST MYSELF, BUT I SWEAR IT SWEPT THRU JERRY. THAT WRINKLY GLARE JUST CONTINUED TO STARE ME DOWN. WHATEVER. I GOT UP AND ORDERED A SCONE. EVEN PITCHED IN FOR AN EXTRA 1 FOR JERRY—JUST TO SEE IF HE COULD MOVE THAT FACE ENUF TO CHEW.
MY TIMEOUT HELPED JERRY RECOVER. IN FACT, ANY BRAVADO WAS GONE. “MY SON’S ON DRUGS.” HIS EYES WELLED UP. “HE DOESN’T TALK TO ME. AT ALL. JUST LOOKS @ ME LIKE I’M THE MOST HATED PERSON ON EARTH.”
“IS THAT WHERE YOU GOT THAT LOOK YOU WERE GIVIN’ ME?” MAYBE I SHOULDN’T HAVE MADE LIGHT OF THINGS, BUT THE GUY WAS GONNA BAWL IN THE MIDDLE OF STARBUCKS. A BITCH-SLAP WLD HAVE BEEN MORE WELCOME.
HE CRACKED A SLIVER OF A SMILE. “SORRY.”
“YEAH, WHATEVER.” AND FOR THE NEXT HOUR WE TALKED ABOUT TRAVIS, ABOUT HIS WORK, EVEN ABOUT SARA THREATENING DIVORCE (NEWS TO ME, BUT NOT NECESSARILY UNWELCOME). I HAD AS FEW ANSWERS AS JERRY. I THINK THAT’S WHAT MADE HIM OPEN UP. SOMETIMES WHEN YOU PUT 2 HEADS TOGETHER, YOU DON’T GET A SOLUTION. YOU JUST GET A COLLECTIVE MIGRAINE. BUT IT’S A START.