Father’s Day

It was wonderful when they were young. All of those little people running around the house, jumping on my bed to wake me up, screaming “happy father’s day, daddy”. The cards they made for me at school, big red hearts glued to the front, with illegible hand writing telling me how much they loved me. Tie dyed tee shirts that they had made after taking my white tee shirts from my dresser drawer, which I wore proudly. As I, and the kids aged, the celebration took on a very different feel. This year was no different.

“The kids want to know what you want for father’s day.”, my wife informed me.

“Nothing.”, I answered.

“They’re going to get you something.”, she said, “so we may as well tell them what you want.” I thought long and hard.

“I would like to be left alone.”, I replied.

“What does that mean?”, my wife asked.

“I just want to drink a few beer and watch the ball game.”, I told her.

“Well that’s not going to happen.”, she advised me. “They’re all coming down for brunch.”

“When is brunch?”, I asked her.

“They will be here about 11.”, I was told.

“And when are they leaving?”. I inquired.

“I don’t know.”, she stated. “Does it matter?”

“Well”, I pointed out, ” they usually don’t leave until the evening. That’s not brunch. I don’t mind that they’re hear for brunch, but if they come at 11, why can’t they leave by 1 0r 2. Why do they have to stay until 8 or 9? It stops being brunch if they’re here for another meal.”

‘They want to spend time with you.”, she added.

“Then they could take me to the ball game.”, I responded.

“No one wants to go to the game.”, I was told.

“I do.”, I said.

“They’re coming here for brunch. They want to know what you want for father’s day.”, she continued.

“Okay.”, I answered. “I want them to leave by 1 or 2.”

“You’re being difficult.”, she stated in that tone that is designed to let me know that she is not pleased with me. I didn’t think I was being difficult. If it was father’s day, what couldn’t I get what I wanted? I was pretty certain that I was being reasonable and rational.

When I woke on father’s day, there was no jumping on my bed, no hand mare cards, or tie dyed tee shirts. There were no little voices screaming out “happy father’s day, daddy.”

“Please behave.”, my wife pleaded, as she readied the house for the coming arrival of the prodigal children.

“I always do my best.”, I informed her. “I can’t do more than that.”

“Try.”, she advised me.

They started arriving at 10:30, holding bags hiding gifts, and store bought cards. My wife busied herself in the kitchen, getting out the food to feed the ravenous hoard that would soon invade my dining room. I certainly appreciated the thoughtfulness of the gifts each one brought, but to be honest, I really had no use for any of them. Oh, the rhubarb-watermelon flavored licorice was wonderful, but I really didn’t need another mug, or shirt. My daughter-in-law, the newest member of our family, brought beer. She has now earned a special place in my heart!

We ate, my now adult kids made s’mores, while I drank beer and watched the ball game. We talked about upcoming birthdays, vacation plans, and issues that had arisen in their living situations. We did not talk about Justin Smoak’s home run, or Estrada’s crappy 3rd inning. As diner time approached, the discussion turned to what we should eat.

“What would you like, daddy?”, someone asked. I hate that question. For the past 30 years or so it hasn’t mattered what I wanted, they always seemed to think they knew what I wanted more than I did.

“It doesn’t matter.”, I said, resigning myself to the inevitable outcome.

“Should we order in?”, my wife asked.

“Only if you have money to pay for it.”, I answered.

“What should we order?”, she added. I wasn’t sure what this had to do with me. Why did I always have to be involved in discussions in which they would really never let me have what I wanted. Not even on father’s day!

“Thai food.”, I replied.

“No one eats Thai food here except you.”, one of my daughters blurted out. “We’re not getting Thai food.” And there it went. I was certain that they were going to settle on one of two things: Pizza, or Swiss Chalet.

“Let’s just get pizza.”, one of my sons said. “Its the easiest.”  And with that I heard Don Pardo speaking in my head. “Well, sir, for that correct answer, you have just won an all expense paid trip to anywhere away from your family for the remainder of the day.”

But we weren’t finished, no, we were far from done. “What do you want on the pizza.”, my wife asked.

“I’m good.”, I replied. “I’m not really hungry. I think I’m going to have go lay down soon. I think I may have had a few too many beers.”

“Do you want your surprise first?”, she asked. While I had hoped that it was going to be incredibly hot sex, I knew that it wasn’t going to happen, especially not with the kids around. “Its your favorite.”. she added, “Key Lime tart.” She was right, it was my favorite. I ate the tart, and was satisfied that it had been an okay father’s day. It was good to see all of the kids together, it generally doesn’t happen often enough. And to see them laughing, and getting along with each other, well, it made me realize that it isn’t really all that bad.

I went to lay down, after saying goodbye, and thanking them for the cards and wonderful gifts. My wife came into the bedroom shortly after to see if I was alright. “I’m fine.”, I told her.

“It was nice of the kids to come down. It was good to see them so happy.”, she told me, “You’re a good father.”

“Thank you.”, I answered. “I try my best.”

“I hope you had a good father’s day.”, she said. “And I hope that we can have everyone over again next year.”

“Okay.”, I answer. “But next year, I am giving each of them a white tee shirt and I want them to tie dye it for me.” She stood up and smiled.

“They will.”, she said. “They will.”

 

 

Lock, Stock & Over The Falls Without A Barrel

 

Niagara Falls has always held a special place in my family’s collective heart. Just over an hour drive away, it had always been the go to destination for family outings, and weekend getaways.

The other night, all of my kids and their significant others were over for dinner. As the conversation turned to our family trips to Niagara Falls, the day trips and the weekends, my wife asked if I remembered the first time that I took her there. There are many things that my aging memory has lost somewhere in that time and space that seems to swallow up my keys and eye glasses, but that first weekend in The Falls, is forever tattooed in my brain, and on my right forearm.

We were still dating then, in that place between let’s live together and what the hell is going on with you? We went for a weekend, and now my wife was questioning my ability to remember that trip.

“Well”, I said, “Let’s just go back a lifetime or two. Pay attention boys and girls, this will both shock and amaze you.”

“Its not going to be about sex again, is it?”, one of them asked.

“No.”, I said, “Its been so long, I don’t remember any of that stuff.”

“You’re such an ass.”, my wife said, as she hit me in the arm.

I began my tale of the most expensive weekend in Niagara Falls history. “We left on Friday afternoon and, before heading out on a mere one hour drive, we stopped and had a late lunch, as your mother was hungry. Back on the road, after her cheeseburger and fries, I took her to Niagara-On-The-Lake. We parked and walked down the main street, filled with artisan boutiques and shops. Your mother had ice cream. We dove on to The Falls, and checked into our Hotel, a quaint little establishment complete with a heart shaped Jacuzzi, and water bed, nestled between a Wedding Chapel, and a liquor store. To this day, I am still not sure if the trip to the liquor store is to be made before or after the stop at the Wedding Chapel.

After settling in, we headed out to wander around the falls. As we walked along Ferry Street, she spotted a Taqueria, and decided that she was in the mood for a snack. Two tacos and a white wine later, we were off to see The Falls. We walked along the pedestrian pathway that edged the gorge, and marveled at the international tourists  who ‘ooohed’ and ‘aaahed’ at the wonder of it all. By now, it was rapidly approaching feeding time, and when she spotted the sign in front of The Love Boat advertising Prime Rib, our dinner plans were secured. Your mother had the prime rib, complete with a baked potato, and some green vegetable thing. I had mussels in garlic and wine sauce. We left the restaurant, satiated, and headed back to the room. As we neared our hotel, your mother spotted a 7-11, and determining that we should have emergency rations in the event of a sudden global shortage of prefabricated junk food, stopped to purchase a bag of potato chips, a bottle of ginger ale, several chocolate bars, and a pack of beef jerky.”

“And you had to pay for all of that?”, one of my daughters asked.

“Oh,”, I said. “In her defense, she always offered to pay. I wouldn’t let her. I figured that she was bound to make herself sick long before I ran out of money.I was however, wrong. I had to make several trips to the ATM just to keep her fed. I mean, she only weighed 100 pounds. How much food could she eat?

Anyway, we spent the night in the room where she finished off the chocolate bars, half a bag of potato chips, some ginger ale, and most of the beef jerky. I was starting to feel sick just watching her eat.”

“You should have dumped her, right there.”, one of them blurted out.

“I thought about.”, I said, “but she was so damn cute. The next morning, we went to Perkins for breakfast. Your mother had an order of pancakes, an order of bacon, and order of sausages, toast and coffee. I kept asking myself where all of this food was going, and hoped that it wasn’t some sort of gastrointestinal parasite. We spent the morning horseback riding along a secluded spot on the shores of Lake Erie. On our way back to Niagara Falls, we stopped at a farmer’s roadside pie stand, and purchased a fresh, home made apple pie, although I have no idea how it was made fresh in the back of his pick up truck. On the way back to the hotel, we had to stop at the 7-11 because, as it was explained to me in the car, no one should have to eat apple pie without ice cream!

Lunch was McDonald’s, and there was fudge from a dessert shop that was being saved for later. After visiting several tourist attractions, and The Harley-Davidson store, I took her across the border to one of the best Italian Restaurants known to man, Como’s in Niagara Falls, New York. We both had veal parmigiana, served with pasta, salad, and a basket of bread big enough to feed a small orchestra. After dinner, there was fudge at the hotel.

Sunday came, and it began with breakfast at a local greasy spoon, after which we checked out of the hotel, and headed back to Niagara-On-The-Lake, to wander through Fort George. We left Niagara, and headed back to the big city. We spent the afternoon at my place, and went out to Swiss Chalet for lunch. It was time to call it a weekend, and I was taking her home, when we passed The Towne & Country Buffet.”

“I think you’re making a lot of this up.”, my wife said.

“Really?’, I asked. “You don’t remember going back 3 times for the prime rib? You also had apple cobbler with chocolate ice cream for desert. Remember now?”

“No.”, she said. “I do not!”

“Well, that’s pretty much how it was, give or take a few meals and snacks. After dropping you off, I went straight to the hospital to donate a kidney. I needed the money for the rent, and a car payment or two.”

“That’s a lie.”, she exclaimed.

“Yes”, I said, “that’s a lie.

“I can’t believe you went out with her again.”, one of them stated. I looked at my wife, and saw in her eyes what I had seen so many years ago.

“She’s was worth it.”, I told them. “Still is. But now you know why I can’t afford to retire. I’m still paying off a restaurant tab from 1995.”

 

 

 

Can I Get Extra Plum Sauce?

 

For those of you who are not aware, my wife has become a minimalist. She has decluttered our lives to the point of no return. It seems that mimimalists can never be satisfied with not having less than they need. She buys the only the bare essentials, the necessities, as she likes to refer to it, and nothing more. I have questioned this movement, and after much soul searching, and self examination, do not share the same extreme views. It really makes absolutely no difference, as my wife has taken over control of our spending.

I know that she means well, and I am aware that she is trying to save money for us in the event that there is some sort of emergency somewhere down the road. I, however, would much rather be sitting in a parked car at the side of the road, drinking beer, and eating a burger, than moving down the road, sucking on rice and beans. I informed my wife that I would be starting my own movement, my own philosophy, The maximalists. Our philosophy is quite simply do it now. Buy it now. Enjoy it now. The future may not come. It is in direct contrast to my wife’s philosophical bent, but we manage to coexist.

As I said, she has taken control of the money. I am not really sure how. I don’t remember a coup of any kind, but she has the control. She tells me that I willingly gave it to her, but that is not likely. I just wouldn’t do that. It is more likely than not, she has inflicted upon me one of those Moroccan, voodoo spells, which has allowed her to usurp control of the money, and the power to make financial decisions.

Now, I enjoy take out food. I enjoy it more than home cooked food, unless there is a brisket, or a turkey involved. My wife advised that there will be no more take out food. Everything we eat, must be made at home with food we have in the house at the time. I tried to make it work, I really did, but I just couldn’t figure out what to make with blueberries, chick peas, relish, and potatoes.

“What are you having for dinner?”, she asked me as I came in the door, torn and tattered from the events of the day, and worn and weary from the ensuing minefield I would be forced to maneuver as I entered the conversation we ere about to have.

“I don’t know.”, I replied. “I haven’t really thought about.”

“Well”, she stated, “I’m hungry!”

“Then you should eat.”, I told her.

“But I don’t know what i want.”, she replied.

“Is that now a consideration?”, I asked. “Just make something with the food we have here.”

“There’s nothing good here.”, she said. “I want something good.”

“Like what?”, I asked her.

“I think I want ribs.”, she replied.

“Uh huh.”, I remarked. “So you have decided to become a part time minimalist?”

“No. But I want Chinese food.”, she explained. “Ribs, rice, and 2 egg rolls. Do you want something?”

“From where?”, I inquired.

There’s only 1 place my wife can eat Chinese food at due to all of her food allergies and sensitivities, and I hate it. Really. The food is barely recognizable as food, and they take forever to deliver.

“Can we afford to order in?”, I asked. “What about the future emergency you have been planning for?”

“This is an emergency.”, she informed me. “I’m hungry. Do you want me to get you something?” Oh, those minimalists! $50 worth of Chinese food, and I can’t get $5 for a bagel and coffee at Tim Horton’s!

“I don’t know.”, I answer. “I’d have to look at the menu.”

“We don’t have one. I threw it out when we decided that we weren’t going to order in anymore.”, she told me.

“To be clear”, I reminded her, “we never decided anything. You decided.” My wife informed me that its not important who decided. She said I should remember that we are in this together, and she is only trying to help us save some money for the inevitable, mystery emergency.

“Okay”, she said, “I have the menu online. See what you want so I can order already. I’m hungry.”

I must have read that menu 3 or 4 times, and still nothing appealed to me. “Well?”, she asked, growing more impatient by the nano second.

“Just get me a won ton soup, and a large fresh watermelon bubble tea, no tapioca.”

“I don’t think that’s enough for free delivery.”, she said.

“So pay the delivery charge.”, I told her.

“Are you crazy?”, she asked. “Its $3.50.”

“So you want me to order more food to avoid paying the delivery charge? ”

“Ya.”, she said.

“Okay”, I said as I looked at the menu once again. “The cheapest thing on the menu is $6. You understand that we are now paying $2.50 more than if we just pay the delivery charge?”

“Just get 2 spring rolls or something.”, she said. “They’re $2 each. That will be enough for free delivery.”

“That still costs more than the delivery charge.”, I remind her.

“Yes, but at least you’ll have the food. At least you’re getting something or the money.”

“But I don’t want any spring rolls.”, I told her. “Just soup and a bubble tea. If you want me to get something else, get me another bubble tea.”

“We don’t have money for that.”, she said. “They’re almost $7.”

“Whatever.”, I said. “Just order the food. I’ll pay for the delivery charge.”

“No.”, she stated rather firmly. “Its the principle.”

“Whatever you decide.”, I told her.

About an hour later, there was a knock on the door. I opened it and was surprised to find a Swiss Chalet delivery man standing there. I called my wife and she came to pay the bill.

“What happened to the Chinese food?”, I asked.

“I changed my mind.”, she said. “You were making it too complicated, and I know you don’t like South China’s food, so I just ordered Swiss Chalet.”

“But I was really looking forward to the bubble tea.”, I told her.

“I got you the chicken spring rolls, and the 1/4 chicken, white meat. And, I got you an iced tea.”

These are the moments when I realize that I really don’t care if my wife is a minimalist, or a communist. I’m just glad that she’s my wife.

“Thank you.”, I said. I kissed her on the forehead as I reached for cutlery.

“You’re welcome.”, she replied. “But this is the last time. Starting tomorrow, we eat whatever we can find here.”

I looked at her in disbelief. I had heard the “This is the last time” line many, many times before, and it never really is.

“I mean it.”, she said. “No more ordering in.”

“I understand.”, I told her. “By the way, I have a late meeting at the school board tomorrow. Can I get $5 for coffee at Tim’s?”

“Do you know how much we just spent on dinner?”, she asked.  And there it was, proof positive that a minimalist can fall off the wagon, and get right back up again, faster than you can pick up a knife and fork.

When I woke in the morning, I went out to collect my bags for work. There, on my desk, was a $5 bill, with a note. ‘Have a good day. Good luck with your maximalism. Love you.’

God, how I adore this woman.