Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Life with Father

My dad is a very interesting man. He gets upset if you buy a medium beverage instead of a large, since, according to him, large is always a better deal (even though I waste half of a large beverage). He used to drive up to twenty miles out of his way just to "save" one or two cents per gallon on gas. He loves to yell at the TV whenever he feels that a referee has made a bad call, or if he thinks a player needs his wise advice. He insists that corn raises his blood sugar too much (he's a diabetic), yet will eat two pieces of frosting-covered cake at a wedding. He's arthritic, yet lies on his belly on the floor to play with Mitzi, his seven-pound malti-tzu (who used to be mine, until I went to Korea). His love of peanuts nearly rivals his love for my mother (okay, I'm exaggerating a little on this one).

On a vacation or a short trip, my father is even more interesting. He refuses to buy a single ice cream for everyone on vacation, instead opting to buy multiple boxes of ice cream treats, then harasses everyone for not eating enough (the last time he did that, he got upset with Mom and me for not being able to each eat six ice cream bars). He positively delights in arguing with or ignoring whomever is acting as his navigator when he drives (if you tell him to go left, he turns right). His idea of relaxation is beating the sun out of bed, and he finds endless joy in trying to make everyone else relax in the exact same manner.

So, since my father is on this short trip to Virginia with me, you can probably imagine how "interesting" it has been so far. Dad recently bought a Tom Tom (GPS) to help him navigate. He's as excited as a small child about his new toy! My sister set it up for him, carefully selecting the voice that most closely resembled an annoyed, menopausal woman in order to help him pay attention to the Tom Tom's directions better. After today, I can assure all that he treats the Tom Tom almost like a human navigator. Yup, he still doesn't listen!

We had a brief detour in Maryland because Dad didn't believe the Tom Tom and I when we both assured him that he needed to turn right on a particular exit. When the two of us told Dad to go south at another exit, he tried to go north (picture me screaming "No Dad, south, SOUTH, SOUTH!!!"). At another point in the trip, he neglected to notice that there were two left turn lanes, almost turned directly into a minivan with my new car, and then spent the next twelve miles arguing with me, claiming that there was only one turn lane and that the other guy was 100% at fault.

Believe it or not, Dad and I actually had quite a nice drive down, despite his creative interpretations of simple instructions. I enjoy spending time with him, even when he doesn't listen. We spent most of the ten hour drive discussing country music performers (I started learning about them in an effort to bond with him years ago), John Wayne (ditto), aging, Mom, cars, and plans for the future. We had a good time, and I remembered why I miss him every time I move away. In spite of Dad's selective hearing, we made it safely to Manassas, where we are now comfortably ensconced in a hotel room. Dad is entranced by his softball game on the TV, and I'm content with Mackie (my MacBook).

Tomorrow, the hunt for my new apartment begins. On one hand, I'm excited beyond belief. On the other hand, I'm a little wistful, knowing that I'm going to miss seeing that eccentric, "interesting" father of mine every day.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"