Yesterday, I had a conversation with my Dad. An imagined conversation with my father who passed away in 2007. Throughout his 68 years on this earth, my Dad imparted a certain wisdom, in a Yogi Berra kind of way. I miss many things about my Dad, but I miss the conversations the most. Quite often I create my own, as if he were still here. I'm a writer, it's what I do.
My Dad was born and raised in a tough New York borough, the one so tough they had to add a THE to its name. Even after moving to the suburbs, he never lost his Bronx accent or swag. Both key elements in imparting his gems of wisdom. His opinions would often leave people tilting their heads, trying to understand. Like the time he sat in the Doctor's office, watching the staff click buttons and switches a very complicated procedure, my Dad offered: “ And I thought being an airline pilot was hard.” “You're an airline pilot?” “Oh no no I'm not, but it just always seemed hard.”
He wasn't an old man, my Dad, but by now he would have been. By now I'm sure he'd have plenty to say about this ever evolving world in which we live. It would sound something like this, I'm sure:
“Your mother and I went out to dinner last night, that new Italian place, sat next to one of those yuppy couples.”
“Hispters, Dad. They call them
“Hipsters, huh?” “Well, these two eejits had their baby in front of one of those ipods for 45 minutes while they waited for a table.” (Yes, my dad used the word 'eejit' . A Jewish New Yorker by birth, he became an Irish Catholic by proxy.) My mom would interrupt with her correction that it was not a baby, the child was at least 4 years old. My Father would continue.
“...Kid stared at that thing, through the entire dinner, didn't even eat. What's so wrong with a little waiting ? A kid can't wait in a restaurant? A kid can't stare at a ceiling or watch people walk by, suddenly there's something wrong with that? It's not bad enough their parents are hunched over these damn texting machines? I see it everywhere, at the Doctor's office, same thing.”
“Nobody knows how to wait anymore. Even you, kids. (I'm 43 years old, my dad still refers to me as a kid.) When you kids were young, you wasted all your time flipping through the damn commercials. And what did I tell you? People paid good money for those commercials. The least you could do is watch them. Now you've got kids who don't even know how to wait for a dentist appointment. You know what I used to make you do in the dentist office?
“Highlights!” we both yell. And laugh.
“You're damn right, Highlights. Solve a puzzle, read about Goofus and Gallant. No, not these kids. These kids only know how to press buttons and kill ugly birds.”
“Angry Birds, Dad”
“Damn hurry, everyone is.”
“I am relaxed.”
“So the Hippy couple had a fit because their stroller wouldn't fit next to their table. This is my problem? You bring your kid to dinner at 9 o clock at night? I need this? I'm trying to eat my veal, which was not a patty by the way, very tender, delicious. But then I got shlip and shlop over here trying to cram an ipad into a stroller and a stroller where it don't wanna go.Kid should be home eating Goldfish and drinking out of a sippy cup. Not in a restaurant scrolling on a damn smart cell.”
“Smart phone, dad.”
“Yea, smart. Friggin' kids have to fill every second of their lives with button pushing.When I was their age, the only buttons I was pushing were my mother's, but only if my dad wasn't around because he would beat me. Another another thing you kids don't do. Beatings. Nobody beats their kids anymore. That's the problem. It's the demise of the family. That. And divorce. Everybody gets divorced . Nobody stays together. You know why? That thing right there, that's the reason people don't stay together anymore.”
“A coffee machine?”
“Not just a coffee machine, the damn single cup brew. They should call it what it is, a marriage killer.
One day you're starting your day over a shared pot of Joe and the next? day you're going it alone. It's an anomaly, it is.”
“Yea, a metaphor. A metaphor for life.”
“How long you think it will be before you're in separate beds?”
“Eating separate dinners?”
“Doing separate wash cycles?”
“Really, Dad? Washing your clothes separately equals the end of a marriage?We've been doing that for years, his clothes get very dirty.”
“Well, you're teetering.”
I pour him a cup of coffee from the single cup brewer, he sips.
“Ha, that's a good cup of coffee.”