Friday, September 30, 2011


It’s almost funny the number of noises that emanate from general area of my father up to and including his dog Lulu.  Not only are there the previously mentioned toxic fumes but there are also random bursts of what I can only describe as auditory clatter.  For example, he has recently begun singing, apropos of nothing, the 1960s song “Brand New Key”.  You know, the “I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates; you’ve got a brand new key…”song?  I don’t know why either.  Of course it’s preferable to his usual song of choice which starts with that timeless phrase, “I don’t know but I’ve been told, a green grasshopper has a red…”  I’ll leave the last word to the mysteries parked in his noggin, y’all.
There are also the staccato bursts of whistling which, although impressive, occur at random times that tend to startle one such as me; someone who is used to a quiet little abode.  I didn’t realize that old people are loud people.   Not only just with the level of sound needed for them to enjoy the TV, but just the loudness of the talking, the coughing, and the wheezing.  Hold on a minute, I think he needs his inhaler.  Sometimes I can’t tell if he’s having a bronchial incident, as the ER docs call it, or if he’s just practicing his pre-pout huffing.  And he is an Olympic level pouter my friends.  It's truly astonishing.  The fact that he’s lost 12 pounds in 3 weeks is lost on him.  His only focus is that he has only been allowed one soda since he arrived.  I explained to him that diabetics can’t have regular soda.  Since he refuses to drink diet soda because of the “aftertaste”, he can’t have any at all.  What aftertaste he’s referring to is beyond me, since he is a big fan of Sweet and Low and everybody knows that tastes like old lady; you know like White Shoulders and baby powder.  Maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, the noise level doesn’t abate even when he begins to slumber, which occurs at any given time of the day or night.  He sleeps in bursts, like an overworked programmer for Microsoft or some other Silicon Valley company.  Every couple of hours he’ll nod off and then suddenly wake up like that girl did in Pulp Fiction when John Travolta gave her the adrenaline shot.  You know, when she jumped and gasped?  Although he adds a look of accusatory confusion that says “where am I and what happened to my sandwich?” 
I already discussed our TV tastes and the fact that we have agreed to “play pretty” and allow each other to watch our favorite shows from time to time.  Being a non-regular viewer of TV, but a hard core user of Netflix, I am usually exceedingly generous with the remote.  However, I have grown used to the habit of enjoying my disks on Tuesdays and Saturdays and watching each disk the day it comes in and returning it the next day.  Obviously all the selections in my queue were chosen long before this co-habitation was even a glimmer of an idea in the back of my mind.  And even though he enjoyed the Burn Notice Season 4 marathon, he does not care for multiple episodes of Big Bang Theory, also Season 4, which I purchased or The New Sherlock Holmes, which I Netflixed. 
He decided to be polite and said, “This show is not in’tresting me at all, so I’m gonna take a nap ‘til you get your fill.”  That seemed awfully benevolent; until the snoring began.  Both he a Lulu are mouth breathers in the literal sense.  She because of her boston terrier heritage (short snout) and he because of the numerous nose breakings throughout his life, from incidences and allegations the likes of which even he will not disclose.  And this reticence is from a man who had a conversation that veered from flatulence to the Playboy channel in his initial conversation with my assistant, Marie.  Thank goodness she’s good natured and not litigious.  
And the snoring not only began in earnest it crescendoed to the point that I had to leave the room as I couldn’t turn up the volume enough to hear it without waking the slumbering duo and I just flat out refuse to use closed captioning on any program spoken in English.  I'll gladly read a foreign film, but my "fanciness" has boundaries, y'all.
I was forced from the room like a despot from his third world throne although the noise from those unhappy mobs is no match for the chaotic symphony of numerous sleep-interrupting horks, the loud, metallic pwangs and wooden plomps of his recliner being declined (is that the opposite of recline?) and the random snorffs (that's a snort and sniff combo) of both father and dog.  At least I'm used to them now.  The first night he lived here and got up to use the bathroom at around 2:00 am, I thought somebody was trying to break in the house and "git" me and I near about wet myself before I realized that if my intended captor was making that much noise, it wouldn't take much effort to escape. 
Throughout the evening, I've been trying to think of a way to bring this whole thought home and maybe make some sense of the situation, but I've come to realize, it'snot really that simple.  There's not always a Family Ties-esque synopsis that both educates and entertains.  Truth is, he's old and loud and set in his ways.  I can be downright persnickety and am more set in my ways than I ever imagined or admitted.  But we're family and you make do with the cards you're dealt.  At least that's what Kenny Rogers taught us and although some days I may feel ready to run, I'm not ready to fold 'em just yet.


  1. Oh Dusty! Do I understand. After my divorced I quickly had my grandmother come live with me here in Austin. Newly divorced, 34 and back on the dating scene. Well we could sit down and bang out a new southern novel on that alone. Interesting how even at 34 I would get the phone call while on the, very well calculated dates I would have from time to time at 11:00, " Don't you think it's about time you get on home? Don't want him to think you're one of those girls". Be glad you have the father son relationship. I felt like I lived with one of your southern lady characters.

  2. Dustin - the comment about how old people are loud made me laugh. My grandpa (G-Pa, as I called him), moved in with us when I was in middle school. I realized I got used to the noise, but it just brought back tons of memories. My G-pa really loved the show "Matlock" and he would crank that show up real loud so you would know he was watching it no matter where you were in the house. He also had a problem with constantly belching and making other noises... constantly. He didn't really like watching TV with us, but sometimes would come in and sit for a while. Mostly I think he watched the news to make fun of people. Reading this made me miss him, in a good way. :)