Archive for February, 2017

February, Going on March

February 7, 2017

The other day, Shop Boy spoke with his dad. This would not be a big deal except for the political undercurrent in America and our starkly varying views on it. No, that’s not really it. My dad’s a smart guy, great with numbers and generous with his checkbook. He was the best man at my wedding to Mary (almost 28 years later, I still believe I made the right choices). But, ahem … what a pain in the ass!

OK, that’s not really it, either.

My dad’s 87, which means he’s seen some good stuff and some really bad stuff. He’s got the perspective of being alive through the aftermath of America’s Great Depression, of being an immigrant’s son, of working himself through college, of a hitch in the U.S. Army, of a career at the Department of Housing and Urban Development that let him raise seven kids, retire earlier than most and live not as a rich man but as a guy who’s got few worries besides the sands of time running out. He’s got a new hip, and a bum shoulder—which doesn’t keep him from swinging a golf club, so he’s OK with that. Again, he’s got perspective.

It’s just that he chooses not to use it sometimes. Dad’s a contrarian, in other words. He finds it funny that we get so worked up over the idea of a petulant egomaniac putting the whole world on edge. Trump? Really?

I called him anyway. He’d sent me a check at the holidays, and this is February. It was time to pull my head out of my … uh, the ground, see those four more years of nuclear winter staring us in the face, thank him for the gift and, ugh, congratulate him on the New England Patriots’ win in the Super Bowl.

People often ask Shop Boy, a New England kid, how I became a fan of the Miami Dolphins, the arch enemy of the “hometown” Pats. (I’ll keep it brief, but feel free to skip this paragraph if you hate sports, or especially football. I get it.) There’s a rule in the NFL that if you don’t sell out your games, they aren’t televised locally. The Patriots were very bad when I was growing up those million years ago. Few people chose to go see them in person, so their games were never televised. Instead, every Sunday, ta-da! Miami Dolphins, the only team ever to go undefeated for a whole season. Super Bowl trophies. Colorful players. Cheerleaders wearing … nothing, really. Flipper the dolphin doing somersaults after every touchdown! Today, the Pats are great and the Dolphins somewhat less than that. But you don’t switch allegiances like that guy with the brand-new Patriots hat in your office this week. End of story.

Again, it’s February, and I owed Dad a call. My birthday is this month. (Every single year it’s like that. What are the odds?) Here’s the thing: My dad is living his life, and I do my best to do nothing that pulls him out of his routine, which once again includes Zumba, because of course it does. He’s the only man in the class, because of course he is. None of my visits to him in Rhode Island lasts longer than a day or two, and even those are rare. It’s incredibly important to me that he get to live and die as he chooses. When I’m there he feels he needs to entertain me rather than be with his cronies at the golf course/bar or with the Ladies of Zumba. And my brother and all five sisters keep him surrounded. Will I regret not seeing him more often when he’s gone? Maybe. OK, I’ll miss him terribly. But I’d regret even more disrupting his late-life shenanigans.

Besides, I know this dude a little bit. The memories will remain if I, somehow, outlive him.

Anyway, I had to tell him that we printed posters for the Women’s March on Washington in January. He’d donated a little money to Typecast Press to help with our recent move to the Mill Centre, and I wanted him to know that our new, improved print shop was being used for good causes.

He laughed. I knew he would. Deep down, he’s all right.

OK, that’s not really it. He’d have been right there alongside us if he could be—giving us crap the whole time, naturally. My best man’s got his flaws. He thinks all this is funny, and I sure as heck hope he’s right.

Meantime, here’s to you, Dad: