The adventures of Dad

My Dad operates completely differently from anybody else I know.

I like to think that my whole family is a bit out there but I’m pretty sure they haven’t cornered the market on lunacy, idiosyncrasies, OCD-like tendencies and anti-social behaviour, especially after observing our federal government in action in recent times. My Dad has his own spot in the universe, however, and I like to call it the World of Dad.

On the World of Dad you get to interact with yourself most of the time because Dad isn’t listening to anything you say. He’s just waiting for your mouth to stop moving because he’s just thought of something absolutely vital that must be projected as soon as you stop to take a breather. It usually has nothing to do with the subject at hand as he’s already moved on.

Dad likes to talk about food. Food he has eaten, food he is going to eat and food he would like to eat plus the merit of all of the clubs he has been to taste the aforementioned food. I know what he has had for lunch and dinner most days and I definitely know what he will be having at the club next Wednesday at 12.30pm.

Dad also loves to buy stuff. I try to get to his place before the junk mail arrives, as the last time I missed it he ended up ordering two beds from a newly advertising supplier, one a double and the other a king single that he just had to have. As he lives alone I can only assume he will be testing out each bed periodically based on mood, declination of the morning sun and the sometimes-annoying neighbour behind him who likes to whistle at 2am when the mood suits.

His latest bed, the king single he ordered, only arrived a couple of days ago and he was keen to get me down there to have a look at it as well as to sort out the mountain of paperwork he had piling up in the ‘filing corner’ of his bedroom.

I pressed down on the doona to check the bed’s comfort level. You never know, he might get sick of it eventually and I could be the proud owner of an almost-new, expensive king single for our guest room.

“Gee, Dad, this bed is as hard as a board.”

“Yes,” he said, “It’s really uncomfortable and doesn’t look at all like it did in the showroom when I saw it.”

As it felt suspiciously flat I lifted up the doona and the sheet and looked at the mattress. Dad nearly had a conniption. “I hope you’re going to make that again!” he barked.

I looked at Dad and back at the “mattress” … or rather, the bottom of the mattress. Dad had been sleeping on the base bottom as he had turned the mattress upside down and it wasn’t a two-sided mattress. The pillowtop he was raving about a few days before he got it was sitting snuggly against the bottom base of the bed.

“It’s upside down, Dad.”

“No, it’s not!”

“Yes, it is, Dad. Let me turn it over.”

“No.”

We could have continued on like this for another ten minutes so I flipped the mattress over just to show him what he was missing out on. He sat on the mattress and bounced up and down on it with a silly grin on his face. “That’ll be better to sleep on then, won’t it. Don’t tell your mother about this.”

You bet your ass I will. Mum needs all the ammunition she can get.

Advertisements

Holiday Heaven

My husband recently decided he needed a holiday while he was home.  As he spends weeks away at sea I would have thought that just being home again was enough of a holiday but I went with it and looked at a few spots that might suit us – or rather a few spots that might suit my photography, as I was keen to add a few more sunrise and sunset beach shots to my already extensive experimentation.  You can never have enough beach shots, right?

My husband grumbled but as he was close to everything he needed, food, bed, bathroom and an occasional beer he was happy to comply – until I handed him a list of shots that I wanted to get on his ‘relaxing’ holiday.  I’m reasonably adventurous but I’m not stupid and hanging around somewhere to prepare for shots that for the most part are shot in near darkness is asking for trouble in certain situations so he was to be my ‘wing man’ and protector for however long it took me to get that ‘perfect’ scene.

As I’m more of a night owl than a morning sparrow it was his mission to wake me up before dawn and drive me to my predetermined destination for my sunrise shoot.  I was pretty disappointed that there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky as opposed to the previous day’s complete torrential washout but I worked with what I had and managed to get some half-decent orange hues and some silhouettes – besides, I was pushing my luck getting him to participate in yet another sunrise-stalking protection operation anytime in the near future.

For my sunset shot he just sat in the car and watched me from a distance as I snapped happily away.  I was surrounded by a bevy of shutterbugs, surfers and grommets.  As far as he was concerned, my safety in numbers and his comfy car seat trumped getting sand blasted in freezing mid-winter conditions on a bunch of cold, hard rocks.

On our last day I had booked a helicopter flight to get some great aerial shots of the coastline.  He’d been in helicopters plenty of times for his job so I wasn’t overly concerned during the drive to the helipad but at his shudder and reference to unreliable ‘kerosene canaries’ when he spotted it, I was on full alert for an ocean ditching, life jacket inflation and holding a very expensive camera out of the water at all costs.

Needless to say we made it back safely with some great shots – which is another story worthy of its own post.  I’m pretty sure my husband was extremely relieved to also make it back to his leather recliner and his flat-screen television for some much needed shuteye for the remainder of his stay at home.

Routines

We all have our routines.  Logically I would even call those who have no routine being routine in their lack of routine, so to speak.  My routines at times border on being extremely habitual to mildly obsessive and I’m just under the threshold of OCD according to my psychiatrist – which I am not too worried about considering I’m one of the saner ones in my family.

All the door locks in the house must be checked before going to bed and before leaving the house.  This is non-negotiable as safety will always come before paranoia in my books.  My husband has another word for it and won’t even check the locks before we go out anymore as he knows I’m going to do my once-over anyway.  As he has been known to leave doors open and cars unlocked in a less-than-secure neighbourhood in the past I’m not taking any chances with our personal protection anytime in the near future.  Our home is equipped with an alarm system, window locks on Amplimesh safety screens and I have been entertaining the idea of getting some surveillance cameras for the front door.  The latter isn’t so much for security as it is to catch the smug would-be graffiti artist in the act after the defacement of my last political sign during the last election.

My dogs have routines, too.  If I’m still sitting on the lounge when their bedtime rolls around they will take themselves off to find a good position on the bed, taking the opportunity to find the best spot on the pillow before I can get to them.  Dinner time is apparently 5 o’clock in the evening no matter what.  It does not matter if the sun is blazing in the sky in the summer or pitch black in winter.  They seem to know.

My husband has his own routine.  He is up with the sparrows while I am still in bed long after the sparrow has fed the kids and gone off to forage.  He takes his naps seriously as he works away a lot and can be found in his favourite chair while home checking out the insides of his eyelids on a regular basis.  His routine borders around the time he is home and the time he is away and we all just have to go with it – hence my preoccupation with aforementioned lock checking and security no doubt.

My son also has a routine although we are not quite sure what it entails.  I gave up trying to get him into patterns years ago after he nearly blew the house up and not long after that losing the keys to the house in an unknown location.  My only routine with him is to not leave him in charge of the house or in possession of too many keys at once.  It seems to work.

I generally get by with my routines.  Every now and again I will leave the sameness and safety of my regular patterns and do something completely left field and erratic – more than likely having planned it all out in my head beforehand.

 

Dad revisited

Dad got a phone call recently from a Foxtel representative extolling the virtues of their new whiz-bang IQ3 entertainment system that he simply had to have despite the fact that he already had an older system of theirs which was working well.  He latched onto it immediately of course.  If anybody knows my father they know that if it’s new and it’s shiny he just has to have it even if he doesn’t know what it is.  For the two weeks he had to wait for it to arrive we all heard about this new and exciting system he was getting on more than one occasion.

I was covertly giving him a wide berth until he called to tell me that it had been installed and I had to go down there as soon as I could to put the key code in for his Internet to be connected to his new Foxtel.  I decided that ‘to be forewarned was to be forearmed’ in this case and I rang the local installer to find out exactly what had occurred during the installation.  I think I could hear him scratching his head as he told me that he had installed almost the same system for Dad as he already had except this one had an Internet connection and he didn’t know what a ninety-year-old was going to do with an Internet connection.  I didn’t either but I was pretty sure Dad would think of something if he pressed the wrong button.

I got the Internet going and showed Dad how to use his new technically-savvy remote control and left him to it.  He was hopping with excitement and pressing buttons before I hit the front door.  I rang Mum when I got home and I had an each-way bet with her on him calling me the next day because he’d pressed something he shouldn’t have.

Technically I lost that bet because he called Mum 24 hours later and told her he didn’t want it, he couldn’t work out how to use it, he had pressed the wrong button and he had ended up with a couple of movies that he had apparently ‘bought’.  He wanted me to organise a cancellation of Foxtel, a return of the IQ3 and a complete cancellation of his account.  I must be psychic.

I eventually sorted it all out with a threatening phone call to Foxtel asking them never to ring my father again as he was ninety years old and nearly deaf and he didn’t understand what he was getting into.  If they wanted to argue the point they could talk to my solicitor and see who came out looking better at the end of the day.  I then tuned Dad’s television into all the new free-to-air stations he wasn’t getting and left him to it.  He gets so many new stations now for free that he says he wonders why he didn’t give Foxtel away years ago.

Mum has just informed me that he is talking about buying a recorder for his favourite free programs.

I can’t wait.

Plane sailing

I’m not a frequent flyer but I do enjoy the occasional flight to an even more enjoyable destination.  I use the term ‘enjoy’ loosely, however, when I am flying with my husband, a serious frequent flyer and notorious frequent-flying grump –  no doubt aggravated by years of flying with every bad cliche known to man.

Flying with my husband is like buying a ticket in the lottery.  You have a million-to-one chance of winning – and I have a million-to-one chance that my husband will enjoy his flight with nothing and nobody to annoy him.  If the inevitable does occur and we travel together I say a prayer for a vacant seat in another part of the plane if something gets on his last nerve.

The usual protagonists include screaming babies, undisciplined children, rude people and exceptionally bad body odour – any of which you are bound to encounter when you are packed like cattle in anything less than business or first class.  My husband can tolerate screaming babies up to a point, as even he understands what air pressure can do to little ears but he will loudly ask the flight steward for another seat if it goes on for two hours with no reprieve and he can get away from it.

He has been known to ask mothers to stuff socks in their screaming two year old’s mouths and threaten old-enough-to-know-better children from kicking the back of his seat to near death when he can no longer take it.  Older kids have seen the death stare on more than one occasion as he looks over the top of his seat to confront his aggressor.  It seems to work.  Parents are not sure if they are flying with a maniac or not so they act fast so as not to find out.

He has had near scuffles in the aisle when a cantankerous Texan with a large hat couldn’t keep his elbow to himself and another similar elbow jousting match with an overly large gentleman who really should have bought himself two seats and not one.  On both of these occasions my husband was transferred to first class – no doubt because my husband is no fool – you can be an ass but only to another ass who is being an even bigger ass to the flight steward by complaining about my husband being an ass.

Smells and body odour fly high up there on my husband’s personal gripe list and I have witnessed him coming out of a near coma of sleep by the stench of a passenger sitting in the opposite aisle and yelling at the top of his lungs “Poo!  Jezuz, you stink!” and then going back to sleep again.  I am ashamed to say I almost laughed out loud at his antics that time, as there were at least seven people around us at the time all nodding in agreement but suffering in silence.. including me.

My husband, bless him, is no shrinking violet and never has been.  He will always tell most people what he thinks and rarely keeps it inside if he is irritated.  Once it is out, however, it is generally gone and won’t be rehashed or groused over at a future time and date, unlike some people who hold grudges forever and are perpetually unpleasant people.  I wouldn’t call my husband unpleasant and believe it or not he’s not honest to a fault – he knows strategically when to exercise discretion about my choice of outfits, hobbies, my family weirdos, friends and sometimes my less-than-fantastic ideas.

My husband is an original.  I’m not giving him back.

 

Cyber Dad

I’m really enjoying living close to my parents again and being able to see them more often.  Dad is now taking advantage of the fact that I am close by and gets me to help him with his day-to-day ‘electronic difficulties’.  This can cover anything from making sure his television is connected properly after he has played around with it and messed it up, making sure his  new phone is working after he has played around with it and messed that up, too, and ringing utility companies when something goes completely wrong and Dad has tried to fix it and it becomes yet again even more messed up.

Just recently Dad decided that he wanted to enter the world of cyberspace.  We all cringed but we went with it.  Everybody else was doing it, apparently, so he wanted to do it, too.  Mum says that if everybody went out and bought a pink elephant in a purple tutu for no apparent reason he would want one, too, even though he didn’t quite know why.

He wanted a tablet because my uncle had a tablet and wouldn’t stop raving about it.  I wish my uncle would stop raving about stuff because the last thing he raved about was a coffee maker and Dad bought one even though he doesn’t drink coffee.

I had a look around and decided that the best tablet for the money by comparison and quality was the Apple iPad.  I couldn’t get Dad down to the store fast enough as he wanted to get his hands on one and start pressing the buttons.  I explained to Dad that to have the iPad connected to the Internet he would also have to have an Internet connection established as well.  I naturally got the job of Internet organiser and it was an agonising wait of 24 hours after he purchased his iPad before I could set up the Internet.

My father is not technically savvy but he did his best to learn and was amazed when I downloaded a few game apps like solitaire and jigsaw puzzles.  The irony was not lost on me that Dad had just paid five hundred dollars to play Solitaire and do a few jigsaw puzzles when he had a perfectly good five dollar pack of cards and some good jigsaw puzzles which would have cost him around thirty dollars.  I have also taught him to explore the world using Google Earth and he’s been everywhere from the pyramids in Egypt to his old house as a kid.

My dad may not be technically minded but he is having a darn good time tapping away and feeling like he has one up on most of his retired jigsaw genius, card playing, travelled friends.

And it’s not a complete loss, of course.  When Dad finally gets sick of it and moves onto a computer or back to his cards I may be the new owner of the almost-new Apple iPad.  I may have to fight my son for it, however, as he apparently doesn’t have one of those in his more technically-savvy-than-me arsenal.

Smokers anonymous

My husband has recently given up smoking.  He told me he was going to give up smoking when he turned 40 and as he turned 50 a couple of months ago, it has taken him quite a while to throw that ‘last’ packet in the bin.  As he likens it to cutting off an arm or a leg I suppose 10 years isn’t that much of a stretch.

He seems to be going well but I’m keeping a low profile and out of the way as he can go from being a happy little vegemite to an angry bigger troglodyte in 0.5 seconds.  He certainly gives my so-called PMS a run for it’s money – and he wins the Golden Globe for grandiose dramatics on suffering withdrawals.

I’ve noticed my sweet treats going missing on a regular basis and empty ice cream wrappers turning up in the rubbish bin every other day.  He came home yesterday sporting a red ring around his mouth but knowing his history – a jam doughnut trumps another woman.  The former may kill him eventually.  The latter and I would kill him immediately.

I’m starting to get a little worried about him as he is starting to look like the Goodyear blimp.  I have bought healthy snacks for him to find around the house but he zeros in on the 100 percent fat content like a homing pigeon.

I’m hoping it is a phase and he wakes up one morning and actually looks into the mirror he is avoiding at present.  It is only a matter of time before he either frightens himself into taking up smoking again or gets serious about getting healthy.  I’m having an each-way bet.