Sunday, October 23, 2011

You can't pop your collar without a good breakfast

Apropos of nothing, my Daddy enters the room and says, in a pained voice, “So if I grew a ponytail, you’d just cut it off?”
                “Yes.  Lopped.  Immediately.”  To catch you up, we had recently had a conversation about things that I loathe; men with ponytails being one of them.  Al Franken, Dick Cheney and people who think irregardless is a word are three others.
“Lopped?” he asked, with the same look on his face that Lulu (his dog) had the first time she saw herself in a mirror.
“Yes.  Lopped.  Maybe even with pinking shears.”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that.”
“But it’s my hair.”
“Obviously if you are so inclined to grow a ponytail, you have taken leave of your faculties and someone needs to intervene.  That someone is me.”
“Ok, but what if I wanted a mullet?”
“A mullet is simply a ponytail having a party.  It would be lopped as well.”
“Without any warning.”
“This counts as the warning, just so you know.”
“Who made you the hair police?”
“It’s not just hair; clothes too. And I was elected.”
“I don’t remember voting.”
“It was secret ballot.  But I assure you, you voted for me.  Twice.”
“Why are you so aggressive about this?”
“Ponytails on men are aggressive.  So are popped collars on old people, so don’t get any ideas.”
“What’s a popped collar?”
“You’ll never need to know.  See how I protect you?”
Dear readers, I feel I must take a minute and apologize if anyone reading this has been offended.  Of course, I’m not apologizing for my opinion; I feel pretty confident that I am right.  But if you have a ponytail, feel a kindred spirit for those who do or are at present wearing a popped collar (and you’re over 21), I apologize for the fact that I am judging you so hard right now, I think I may have just pulled a muscle.  And for that I am truly sorry.
After the hair discussion, my Daddy decided to “git inside that head ‘a yours” and asked me for my opinions on any number of topics.  I would like to think it was to truly gain insight into what makes his eldest son tick.  I suspect, however, that is was simply a ruse to distract me while he foraged for illegal items that he doesn’t know I know he hides in the deep recesses of his bedside table.  What sort of caretaker would I be if I didn’t spy, people? Don’t be so naïve.  I have to save him from himself.  This is a diabetic who fixates on sugar to the point that it’s almost funny.  In the middle of a meal that he has personally requested and is eating with as much as haste as a Minuteman waiting for Paul Revere to ride by screaming about lanterns and boats and British dudes, he will state, “Boy this sure is good, but not as good as chocolate ice cream.  I’d love a gallon (!) of that right now.”
                So I am forced, FORCED do you hear me, to sneak and spy.  Peek and pry.  I have, however, found very little in the way of evidence of contraband snacks.  I have, so far, simply found more empty wrappers of his approved snacks than is typically allotted.  Even if they are sugar free, eating 7 popsicles in a day is not good.  Anyone who has gone on a sugar free diet can tell you what sugar alcohol does to you.  And you, as a regular reader, are far too familiar as it is with this area of his personal hygiene.  If you are a new reader, start at the beginning.  And thanks for your support.
                I started to think I was making headway.   Maybe he is listening to me and not eating foods that are bad for him although he has stopped losing weight after the initial 20 pounds.  And I was about to get all proud of him (and myself) when my network of accidental spies began reporting.
                Before you get all judgmental, let me say that it all started innocently enough.  My assistant Marie casually mentioned that she saw my Dad at the snack machine (on the hospital campus where I work), buying a soda one afternoon after his doctor appointment.  Another time she made him some coffee and when she asked how much sugar he took, he told her two spoonfuls, never mentioning that he is supposed to use Equal or Splenda or Old Lady (Sweet n Low) since he is diabetic.  Later her daughter, Dawnyielle,  then mentioned, oneday visiting on her day off, that she had seen my Dad on the other hospital campus (where we live) reading a book outside the convenience store, soda in hand.  When I casually mentioned this chance sighting, my Daddy had the nerve to say that she must have mistaken him for someone else.  As if there are two redheaded rednecks with a grey bowler and green paratrooper suspenders, riding a red scooter.  Really?  That’s your defense?  It wasn’t me.  Are you suddenly an R&B singer?  If you’re going to make a concerted effort for people to notice you, which was his goal with the hats, then you must deal with the consequences of being noticed.  Wearing colored pants (pink, kelly green, aqua) keeps me honest, y’all.  You can’t perform any activity that requires stealth or secrecy if people can see your pants from outer space.   
                I decided not to press the issue due to the fact that I was secretly proud of him for actually leaving the house without me, even if it was to cheat on his diet and move ever closer to the reality of “the sugar taking his feet”, which is his favorite lament.
At least he’s doing something.   The fact that these activities are simply sketchy as opposed to openly larcenous is a workable paradigm.  This coupled with the fact that he’s started to cook for himself in the mornings is progress. I'm looking past the fact that there’s not much else to do once you’re awake at 4:30 AM.  Apparently he feels that God has taked him with ensuring the sun rises on time because he wakes at the same time each day and he has no chickens to feed or cow to milk.  The only downside is that he is not one to cook breakfast foods on a consistent basis.  I have attempted to grow accustomed to being awakened to a variety of smells.  Some are awesome (bacon); some are subtle (grilled cheese) and some are downright odd (shrimp and okra?!). 
The fact that he is up makes me happy.  I worry about his health being negatively impacted by his lack activity on a daily basis.  So even when I would prefer not to be roused from slumber with an offer of stewed tomatoes, or tommy-toes, as he calls them, I am happy that I am offered something other than silence.  Because I know that day is coming and I can't bear to think about it.

1 comment:

  1. Umm.... Shrimp and okra? Is that a country thing or just your daddy thing? Are there any older groups that he could get involved with? That's one thing we tried so hard to get my G-Pa to do.. but he'd never make an effort to get to know others. I think it would have greatly increased his quality of life. Anyway, it makes my heart happy to follow your life this way. Great writing! :)